UC Santa Barbara and the UCSB Associated Students released a joint statement Wednesday condemning the acts of racism last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia and affirming the university’s dedication to diversity and tolerance.
The statement was signed by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and the Associated Students (A.S.) executives, President Hieu Le, Internal Vice President Jasmine Sandhu, Kristin Hsu, external vice president of statewide affairs and Batsheva Stoll, external vice president of local affairs.
“We denounce the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who made the campus of the University of Virginia a site for hate and intolerance,” the statement reads. “Free expression is essential to the educational mission of universities, but it does not include or protect actions that are meant to intimidate, harm, or threaten others.”
The statement comes after the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally that began last Friday in Charlottesville when over 200 people marched through the University of Virginia campus protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The rally escalated Saturday at a park in Charlottesville and turned fatal when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing one woman. Two Virginia state police officers were also killed in a helicopter crash while patrolling the rally.
The Beloved Community Isla Vista and the UCSB MultiCultural Center (MCC) hosted a candlelight memorial Monday in the MCC to remember the lives lost during the violent rally, as well as to stand in solidarity with those opposing the violence in Charlottesville.
Klawunn said she would like the joint statement to serve as an extension of the sentiments expressed at the memorial for those who could not attend.
In an interview with the Nexus, Le said he wanted to write a joint statement with the university because the racism seen in Charlottesville is a “breach” on all aspects of society and “goes beyond students.”
Over 50 student body presidents from universities across the country released a similar statement of solidarity on Aug. 13 for the people of Charlottesville, including the student body president of UC Berkeley.
Klawunn told the Nexus she is critical of the University of Virginia campus for its choice to accept a white supremacist rally on campus and said it was a “clear challenge” to the values universities represent, such as diversity, inclusion and free expression.
Le said President Trump is a representative of hate and his “abhorrent” response to the white supremacism in Charlottesville affects many members of the UCSB community.
“President Trump has consistently shown his incapability to do his job as a moral leader in this country,” Le said.
Trump condemned the white supremacism in Charlottesville, but said there is “blame on both sides” of the violence and also questioned the removal of the Confederate general’s statue.
Klawunn said it is “critical” that she collaborate with students to improve campus climate and show the student body that the university will not accept or tolerate racism or racial violence.
The university and A.S. plan to host a discussion, “Living Lives of Resilient Love in a Time of Hate,” on Nov. 8 in Corwin Pavilion as an opportunity to dialogue about race and diversity within the UCSB community.