UVA Center Board Member Resigns After Explaining Why Women Didn't Want to Go Shoe Shopping

September 6, 2018

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center is facing its second controversy in almost as many months, with the resignation of a member of its governing council over a sexist email he wrote to the council’s former chair. In the year-old email obtained by Politico via an open-records request, Fred W. Scott Jr. wrote that women “don't like to be put into groups. They group up all the time, but these are their own voluntary groups. Lunch, coffee, Children, etc. No men allowed in.” Some people “just like to stir up trouble then melt into the background and watch,” he added, and, “If we have such a person, they may not be the best choice to promote.”

The email was reportedly in reference to what is known at the Miller Center as “shoegate,” in which Scott awkwardly offered to take female center employees shopping for shoes in exchange for their hard work (he later apologized). Scott, whose family has made major donations to the university, also wrote that there “are no United White People College Funds or White Students' Alliances or Men Against Drunk Driving. Even at a ‘tolerant university' ... especially there! Women's Initative [sic]. We both support it. Is there a Men's Initiative???”

Over the summer, many Virginia professors opposed the Miller Center’s decision to hire Marc Short, President Trump’s recent legislative affairs director, as a senior fellow. Two center professors resigned their positions in protest. Politico also reported that Scott is the center’s third council member to resign in a year over sexual harassment allegations. The center has since introduced additional sexual harassment training and a code of conduct.

The center, which studies the U.S. presidency, said in a statement that its “current leadership was unaware of the existence of this email until the evening of Aug. 28,” and that it “strongly objects to the content and sentiments expressed in [Scott's] email, including discriminatory and offensive language as well as any suggestions of potential retaliation against any Miller Center staff members.” Scott, who declined comment, resigned Friday.

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