Blandy REU Program Diversity and Anti-Racism Statement

The Blandy REU program community commits to making Blandy Experimental Farm a welcoming and supportive environment for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or any other grouping that has historically disadvantaged people. Increasing the participation of people in groups that are underrepresented in science is at the core of the mission for our Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. We oppose all forms of discrimination, harassment, and violence against people based on their race, ethnicity, or gender identity. Learning to practice anti-racism is a major current focus of the Blandy community. We join the nationwide movement against anti-Black racism in the wake of recent well-publicized killings of Black people by police, as we confront the deep and pernicious history of racism in the United States, a history that includes the very grounds now occupied by Blandy Experimental Farm.

In the early 1800s, the Tuley family established a plantation known as "The Tuleyries" and profited from the forced labor of Black enslaved peoples until the Civil War. In 1903, Graham Blandy, who made his fortune as a stockbroker and railroad magnate in New York, purchased the Tuleyries property. In 1926, upon the death of Graham Blandy, 700 acres of Blandy’s property was bequeathed to the University of Virginia and was named “Blandy Experimental Farm.”

Remnants of the history of slavery can still be found on the grounds at Blandy, including a cemetery for the enslaved people and an unusually large two-story barracks where enslaved people were housed. The barracks was repurposed by UVA in 1927 for laboratory, dormitory, and office space. In 1941, the University of Virginia renovated the building, called “The Quarters”, and expanded upon it by adding two new wings. When a modern laboratory building was constructed in 2012, the lab rooms were converted into offices, and the Quarters building remains the central hub for administration and many other activities at Blandy Experimental Farm. One of our long-term goals is to construct new housing for undergraduate student researchers, including REU students. However, until funding for new housing is available, REU students and other undergraduate researchers will continue to be housed in The Quarters.

We understand that some students may be uncomfortable, or angry, with being assigned to housing in a building where enslaved people were once forced to live. We want you to know that the rooms were renovated many years ago and do not resemble the rooms lived in by the enslaved peoples. We are moving forward with plans to carry out in-depth historical research of enslaved peoples on the Tuleyries plantation and to publicly commemorate their lives. We have also begun the process of determining how we can change the name of The Quarters (a national historic landmark), since this name reflects the initial purpose of the original wing – quarters for enslaved people.

Racism is antithetical to everything we do at Blandy, and anti-racism work will continue as an ongoing effort by the entire Blandy community. The diversity of the students in our REU program is a key element in its success. We have a proud tradition of celebrating the successes of current and former Blandy REU students of all races and ethnicities. We are constantly working to evaluate and improve our program to maximize its benefits for the professional and academic success of all our REU students.

Sincerely,

Kyle J. Haynes, PI of the Blandy REU Program, Associate Director of Blandy Experimental Farm and Research Associate Professor

David E. Carr, Director of Blandy Experimental Farm and Research Professor

Mary A. McKenna, Co-PI of the Blandy REU Program, Associate Professor of Biology, Howard University

Ariel Firebaugh, Director of Scientific Engagement, Blandy Experimental Farm

Rebecca Forkner, Associate Professor, George Mason University

Patrick Crumrine, Coordinator of the Blandy REU Program and Associate Professor, Rowan University

T’ai H. Roulston, Research Associate Professor and Curator of the State Arboretum of Virginia

Candace Lutzow-Felling, Director of Education, Blandy Experimental Farm