Dear Alumni and Friends of the University:
I know many of you are following the series of horrible events related to the “Unite the Right” rally that have transpired in Charlottesville since Friday evening.
Alt-right protestors carrying torches marched on UVA’s Grounds Friday evening, attempting to intimidate bystanders and spread their message of intolerance and hate. There were several violent altercations during and after the march, and minor injuries were reported, including one University police officer who was injured while making an arrest.
During Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in the city, there were numerous outbreaks of violence that tragically resulted in the death of a young woman and many reported injuries among protestors and counter-protestors. And two troopers with the Virginia State Police lost their lives in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville.
We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives, and also express our concern to those who were injured. We also recognize the emotional and psychological impact that these events may cause to members of our University and broader communities.
The University supports the First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly. Acts of violence, however, are not protected by the First Amendment. Violence and bigotry are not political positions. We strongly condemn intimidating and abhorrent behavior intended to strike fear and sow division in our community.
As a public institution, we value diversity, inclusion and mutual respect. We value an environment in which learning happens. The views of many of the groups who converged on Charlottesville are in direct contradiction with this. There were racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic and misogynistic chants. Such rhetoric is not intended to bring us together; it is intended to drive us apart.
The safety and well-being of all UVA community members is my foremost concern as president. Next weekend, thousands of new students and hundreds of new faculty and staff will arrive on our Grounds to begin a new academic term. The University will have its safety and health resources ready and available to our community.
In the days, weeks and months ahead, there will be many opportunities to discuss as a community the events of this past weekend and how our community of trust and mutual respect can come together and further demonstrate and underscore our shared values.
We will continue to uphold these values as a community and reject the ideology of intolerance and hate.
Teresa A. Sullivan