The Associated Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution through email Wednesday condemning the white supremacism last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia and standing with the university in its rejection of racism and violence.
The resolution, titled “A Resolution to Condemn and Disavow White Supremacy and All Forms of Racism,” condemns the racialized violence in Charlottesville as domestic terrorism and affirms the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate’s commitment to fighting racism, hatred and bigotry.
“It is undeniable that current political precedents, climate, and culture are a legitimate threat to all students of color and their allies,” the resolution reads. “It is clear that there is a moral obligation to become active and set the tone in this stand for the protection of our fellow students.”
The violence in Charlottesville began last Friday when over 200 people gathered on the University of Virginia campus for a “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally. A woman was killed at a Saturday rally in the city of Charlottesville when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Two Virginia State police officers also died in a helicopter crash Saturday while patrolling the rally.
“We should not be receiving praise for this,” Senator Dhishal Jayasinghe said of the resolution he authored with Senator Kristen Armellini. “A.S. is meeting a certain obligation. This is something my job requires.”
A.S. President Hieu Le and former A.S. presidential candidate Nawar Nemeh cosponsored the resolution to show the bipartisanship of the legislation.
Jayasinghe said he wanted to author the resolution because he has been personally affected by racism and bigotry and feared for his life as a student of color.
Jayasinghe recently attended a lobby visit at the United States Student Association’s National Student Congress in Florida and said he and other student lobbyists were forced to remain indoors when individuals nearby were wearing shirts with the Confederate flag design.
“This is the first time something so far away has come so close to home,” he said. “We literally feared for our lives.”
The resolution’s impact is amplified by similar statements released by other universities, Jayasinghe said.
University of California president Janet Napolitano released a statement Monday in response to the events in Charlottesville. On Wednesday, UCSB A.S. executives released a joint statement with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn condemning the white supremacism in Charlottesville and confirming UCSB’s commitment to intolerance.
The university also hosted a candlelight memorial Monday in the MultiCultural Center to remember the lives lost amidst the violence in Charlottesville.
Troy Eggertsen, President of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), expressed his support for the Senate’s resolution and said while YAL defends the right to free speech, the group “will never defend” the hateful message of the white supremacists in Charlottesville.
“Rather than see these hate groups have their first amendment rights violated, we would like for them to be continually shamed and exposed in the public sphere,” Eggertsen said.
Jayasinghe said although he will be studying abroad in the fall, he intends to keep working with the Senate and Armellini to combat intolerance.
He added that he hopes this resolution will lead to an “action plan” that could include protests and sit-ins in the coming year.
“This is all we can do as of right now,” Jayasinghe said. “It’s really up to Senate when it reconvenes.”