Leaders condemn recent actions of white supremacists, discuss current state of free speech on college campuses
In light of the chaos which occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia after a “Unite the Right” march led by white supremacists escalated into violent altercations between the marchers and counter-protesters that left at least one person dead, statements have been issued from administrators at both the UC and university level.
On Aug. 12, the day of the march, UC President Janet Napolitano issued a brief statement via Twitter.
“We abhor the violence & hate in Charlottesville that have tragically perverted Americans’ right to speak freely,” a Tweet credited to Napolitano from the University of California Twitter account stated.
A few minutes after the initial Tweet, Napolitano affirmed the UC system’s stance alongside the University of Virginia in “condeming this shameful display,” via the University of California Twitter account.
On Aug. 14, Napolitano sent a lengthier letter in response to the aftermath of the events from Aug. 12. Napolitano began the letter by condemning the actions of “white supremacists” and restating the UC system’s adamant support for “diversity and inclusion.”
Napolitano’s letter also addressed protections for free speech on college campuses. Marchers gathered at the University of Virginia, which has condemned the “hateful and violent activities” of late.
“University campuses in particular are meant to foster an exchange of ideas, and to teach students how to respectfully approach viewpoints different from their own — even when those viewpoints are offensive and hurtful,” Napolitano stated. “But the acts of domestic terrorism we saw in Charlottesville represented an assault on our cherished values of diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance. We must continue to speak and act against the shameful behavior we witnessed over the weekend and ensure that our colleges and universities, and our nation as a whole, remain safe and civil for all.”
Napolitano’s statement also offered “profound condolences” for the loss of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car was driven into a group of counter-protesters, injuring 19 others.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May issued a brief statement via Facebook.
“We condemn the violence and hate on display in Charlottesville today,” the post stated. “Freedom of speech is not about provoking and inciting violence. Our thoughts are with our University of Virginia colleagues.”
ASUCD President Josh Dalavai issued a personal statement via Facebook.
“This movement can […] no longer be labeled anything other than white angst, supremacist and reactionary,” the post stated. “Chants of ‘we will not be replaced,’ ‘white lives matter,’ and ‘Jews will not replace us’ all prove that statement beyond a shadow of a doubt, if the Confederate and Swastika flags weren’t enough proof. This is no longer a game (it never was), and they are out here looking for blood.”
Dalavai credited the uprising of white supremacist ideology to the presidency of Donald Trump.
“To not be outrightly upset and ready for action is dangerous at this point,” Dalavai’s post stated. “Nazism and Fascism is growing in America and you can no longer disregard that notion as an overreaction. We are at a tipping point.”
In regards to the upcoming start of the 2017-18 school year, Napolitano’s letter stated that the UC system “remains committed” to creating and promoting a “safe, responsive and equitable environment” for all students, faculty and staff members.
“We reject all forms of discrimination, commit to fostering an atmosphere of respect and inclusion and pledge to defend the right to free speech,” the letter stated. “This summer and fall, as UC students, faculty and staff return to their campuses, I ask that we all recommit to these enduring values of diversity, equity and inclusion and work to live up to these ideals in all that we do.”
Written by: Hannah Holzer — firstname.lastname@example.org