University President John J. DeGioia joined a growing number of student groups and faculty in condemning the white nationalist rally Saturday in Charlottesville that resulted in violence and the murder of a counterprotester.
“This year, as we prepare to return to campus, however, we are faced with the tragic events in Charlottesville—a painful reminder of the enduring legacies of slavery and segregation in our nation, and of our obligation to reject hatred, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all ideologies and manifestations of white nationalism and white supremacy,” DeGioia wrote in a campuswide email sent Friday.
Tensions first started to flare Aug. 11, when about 250 demonstrators, most of whom were white men, marched through Charlottesville — including the University of Virginia campus — holding torches and chanting slogans like “White lives matter,” “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”
Hundreds of white nationalists and counterprotesters then clashed during a planned Aug. 12 morning demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counterprotester, was killed and 34 others were injured when a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators. The Department of Justice is investigating the incident as an act of domestic terrorism.
President Donald Trump has been roundly condemned for his response to the incident, after claiming Tuesday that both groups of demonstrators used violence and that there were some “very fine people” in the neo-Nazi rally. The comments followed a condemnation of white nationalists by Trump on Monday, backtracking a similar claim that both sides were at fault in an initial statement Saturday.
Georgetown University Student Association President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and over 50 other student body presidents signed a letter standing in solidarity with students at the University of Virginia and calling for advocacy for underrepresented populations on college campuses.
Mack and GUSA Vice President Jessica Andino (COL ’18) said a failure to denounce hate speech runs contradictory to Georgetown’s values. According to Mack and Andino, GUSA will work with the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action to conduct a campus racial climate survey to help guide the university’s work on diversity.
“As students at Georgetown, we are committed to social justice and peaceful expression as the bedrock of a healthy collegiate society. We therefore have an obligation to call out and condemn racism, bigotry, and violence—as these pose a grave threat to the values of our community,” Mack and Andino said in a statement to The Hoya.
Both the Georgetown University College Democrats and Georgetown University College Republicans published statements Aug. 13 condemning the violence in Charlottesville and have published a joint viewpoint in The Hoya.
“Let us be absolutely clear: this was the ugly face of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, the KKK, white nationalism, the alt-right, neo-Nazis and all other hate groups which seek to assert their hateful ideologies,” GUCD wrote in a statement. “We extend our arms to our friends of color and to the Jewish community for long enduring this white supremacist bigotry and oppression.”
GUCR called for Americans to come together in light of the incident.
“GUCR strongly condemns the senseless violence occurring in Charlottesville,” GUCR wrote in a statement. “Hate has no place in the U.S. or near a college campus. E pluribus unum.”
Hoya Staff Writer Jeff Cirillo contributed reporting.