President Sullivan Condemns Demonstration Violence

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia
August 12, 2017

The University of Virginia strongly condemns the hateful and violent activities in Charlottesville and on Grounds this weekend. For a list of University statements, see below.

A Community Message From President Sullivan, Aug. 21
Sullivan Announces Working Group to Assess University’s Way Forward, Aug. 18
A Message to UVA Parents from Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin, Aug. 15
Sullivan Addresses Safety Concerns, University Response to Torch March, Aug. 15
UVA Rector: Our Way Forward is Together
Message From President Sullivan to Alumni and Friends, Sunday Evening

University Returns to Regular Operating Schedule, Sunday Evening
Community Update From President Sullivan On Emergency Declaration, Saturday Evening
UVA Community Message From President Sullivan, Saturday Afternoon

Statement Regarding Change In Academic Division Operating Schedule
Message From The University of Virginia, Saturday Morning
Message From President Sullivan, Friday Night
Sullivan's Message To UVA Community In Advance of Rally, Aug. 4

 

A Community Message From President Sullivan

Aug. 21, 3:20 p.m. 

As we continue to reflect on the events of August 11 and 12, my sincere hope is that the vibrant energy that comes with the beginning of a new academic year will help the healing process for our community. The University has welcomed more than 4,000 new students and many new faculty and staff to the Grounds and to Charlottesville. This year’s entering class is among the most diverse and brightest yet, bringing new perspectives and talents to the Grounds. The newest members of the UVA family include first-year students from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and from 73 foreign countries. I enjoyed meeting our new students and their families at our residence halls and at various welcome events over the weekend. 

Many of you have expressed safety concerns in light of the hateful events of August 11 and 12. I have heard your concerns. I want to assure every member of the University community that your safety and well-being remain our top priority. We have already taken several immediate actions to enhance the safety of our learning and living environment. These steps include:

  • Hiring additional personnel within the Ambassadors Program and expanding their presence by adding new patrols on Grounds;
  • Hiring an outside security firm to review the University’s security and safety infrastructure; and
  • An immediate review of existing laws and University policies regarding open flames and the public’s ability to access certain historic and open spaces such as the Lawn and Academical Village.      

These initiatives will complement the efforts of the working group led by Dean Risa Goluboff, announced last Friday. We are determined to make whatever changes are necessary to protect our people and our Grounds.

We are reaching out to our students and employees who were injured by white supremacists and others who came to our community intent upon dividing us. University Police are actively investigating several incidents that occurred on the evening of August 11, and the University is aggressively asking for the prosecution of any and all violations of the law.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our University and our values. I ask that we continue to work together as we seek to build and foster a safe, caring, and inclusive community.

Sincerely,

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

UVA Rector: Our Way Forward is Together

Aug. 13, 6:30 p.m.

Dear University Community:

Our University condemns the vile view of humanity that invaded the Charlottesville community and our Grounds this past weekend. It is fundamental to the moral fabric of any society to condemn beliefs and behavior that are so odious they threaten the very essence of that society. And so we do.

The actions of those who visited evil upon us are nothing short of white nationalist and white supremacist terrorism intended to intimidate our community. They will not succeed. We will not surrender. We are here to support all in our community, particularly those who feel the impact of their hatred most keenly. And we are here to ensure our highest priority - the safety of all.

Such terrorism could lead us to succumb to hopelessness, to believe these acts have halted, if not reversed, the progress of racial reconciliation and social pluralism we have made over the past half century. But progress on these fronts is never linear. We all need to transform our anger at the actions of this past weekend so as to rededicate our energy, our talents, and our hearts to our institutional purpose of developing citizen leaders in all fields of endeavor to evolve to a more perfect union. If we are to succeed in that purpose, we must be honest about the issues facing our society. It has never been more critical than now to ensure equality and justice for all in our community regardless of color, identity, belief, or orientation.

We mourn those who lost their lives, and our thoughts are with their families. We are forever indebted to all who courageously protected our fellow citizens or cared for the injured. Let us emulate their dedication as we strive to achieve the intended potential of our University, our community, our Commonwealth, and our country. In doing so we will find our own potential. We are all here for a purpose, and the events of the last few days have leant that purpose greater clarity and urgency.

 

Frank M. Conner III
Rector

Message From President Sullivan to Alumni and Friends 

Aug. 13, 5:11 p.m.

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-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 Sullivan
President

 

University Returns to Regular Operating Schedule

Aug. 13, 4:30 p.m. 

Dear Members of the University Community:

I write to inform you that the University of Virginia has returned to a regular operating schedule.

The series of events that have transpired in Charlottesville and on Grounds this past weekend are tragic. 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.

I want to express our sincere appreciation to the members of the University community – faculty, staff and students –who worked tirelessly over the weekend in support of our educational and health care mission, particularly our colleagues in the UVA Medical Center.

The safety and well-being of all UVA community members continues to be our top priority. Next weekend, thousands of new students and hundreds of new faculty and staff will arrive on our Grounds to begin a new academic term. 

Students seeking support during this difficult time can contact UVA Counseling and Psychological Services at (434) 243-5150 during the day or at (434) 972-7004 after hours and on weekends. Additional information may be found online at http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/caps.html.

Faculty and staff, in both the academic division and the medical center, may contact the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) if they need to speak with a counselor or obtain a referral to other confidential resources that may be available. You may schedule an appointment with a FEAP consultant by calling (434) 243-2643 or by visiting https://www.medicalcenter.virginia.edu/feap/general-information.

The weekend events do not define Charlottesville or the University of Virginia.  Our community comes together in times of great need, and in the coming days we will continue an important dialogue and begin the healing process.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, there will be important opportunities to discuss as a community the events of this past weekend and how our community of trust and mutual respect can further demonstrate and underscore our shared values.

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

 

Community Update From President Sullivan On Emergency Declaration

Aug. 12, 6:08 p.m.

To the University Community:

I write to request your assistance in continuing efforts this evening to ensure the safety of our community after today’s senseless violence sparked by the “Unite the Right” rally.

Importantly, our UVA hospital remains open, and health system employees should report for work as scheduled. Academic Division designated employees should also report to work as regularly scheduled.

Due to the current declaration of a State of Emergency in Virginia, the Governor’s office is urging all members of our community to stay home this evening.  The safety and well-being of all members of our community is my most important priority as president. I ask that you help by staying off the streets tonight as our public safety officials work to maintain order and offer assistance to those who are in need.

Please also join me in offering heartfelt thanks to members of multiple law enforcement agencies, first-responders and other public servants who put themselves in harm’s way today to protect our community.

I also ask you to keep in your thoughts and prayers those who lost their lives or were injured today. Such violence violates common decency and the most basic values that we hold as a community.
 
Teresa A. Sullivan
President

 

UVA Community Message From President Sullivan

Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m.

Dear Members of the University Community:

All of us are profoundly concerned and disturbed by incidents occurring this weekend related to the “Unite the Right” rally in downtown Charlottesville. 

Last night, alt-right protestors carrying torches marched on UVA’s Grounds, 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 today’s “Unite the Right” rally in the city, there were numerous outbreaks of violence and reported injuries among protestors and counter-protestors. Earlier, we had encouraged all UVA community members to avoid the rally and to attend UVA-sponsored events instead. However, due to public safety concerns and after a declaration of a State of Emergency in Virginia, we cancelled the previously scheduled events that included academic programming, community discussions in the University Libraries, and athletic events.

The University of Virginia is a public institution and follows state and federal law regarding the public’s right to access open spaces, including the rights of the marchers who assembled on our Grounds last night. We also support the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, including the rights of the protestors and counter-protestors today. At the same time, we know that the ideologies and beliefs expressed by many of the groups that have converged on Charlottesville this weekend contradict our values of diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. We strongly condemn intimidating and abhorrent behavior intended to strike fear and sow division in our community. Acts of violence are not protected by the First Amendment.

The safety and well-being of all UVA community members is my foremost concern as president. We are continuing to monitor the developments in downtown Charlottesville and to coordinate with state and local law enforcement. The UVA medical center remains open.

We will continue to uphold our shared values as a community and reject the ideology of intolerance and hate.
 
Teresa A. Sullivan
President

 

Statement Regarding Change in Academic Division Operating Schedule

Aug. 12, 11:37 a.m.

Due to the ongoing public safety concerns in downtown Charlottesville and as a result of both the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle declaring a local state of emergency, the University of Virginia is cancelling all scheduled events and programming today (Saturday) effective at noon.

This cancellation includes all academic programming, the scheduled community discussions taking place in the University Libraries, and all UVA Athletic events and programming. The University is monitoring the developments in Charlottesville and continues to coordinate with state and local law enforcement.

The UVA medical center remains open.

 

Message From The University of Virginia

Aug. 12, 10:27 a.m. The University of Virginia issued the following update today regarding Friday evening’s demonstration on Grounds:

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan strongly condemned the demonstration that occurred on Grounds on the evening of August 11. The intimidating and abhorrent behavior displayed by the alt-right protestors was wrong. Those who gather with the intent to strike fear and sow division do not reflect the University’s values and will not influence or diminish the University’s commitment to inclusion, diversity and mutual respect. Included in these values also are a respect for the First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly.

The University of Virginia is a public institution and as such must abide by state and federal laws regarding the public’s right to access open spaces. While University policy speaks to the ability to reserve space inside University-owned facilities, permits or registration to access public and open outdoor spaces are not required. 

With regard to the incident last night, University Police arrested one protestor and charged the individual with assault and disorderly conduct. Several injuries were reported, including one University police officer who was injured while making the arrest. Several other members of the University community sustained minor injuries during the confrontation.

Law enforcement did not deploy pepper spray or any other chemical agents. Reports indicate that the pepper spray was used by the protestors. Law enforcement on the scene declared an “unlawful assembly” once physical altercations among the protestors began to escalate.

The safety and well-being of every member of the University community and its visitors remains a top priority. The University continues to monitor developments in the City and is closely coordinating with state and local law enforcement. The University continues to discourage members of the University community from attending the planned downtown rallies.

 

Message From President Sullivan, Friday Night

As President of the University of Virginia, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order.  

Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable.  The violence displayed on Grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the University’s values.

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

 

Sullivan's Message To UVA Community In Advance of Rally

The following message was sent Aug. 4, 2017, in advance of the Aug. 12 rally.   

To the University community:

On August 12, several groups are planning to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally in Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville. Although the groups represent a variety of ideologies and agendas, many of them express beliefs that directly contradict our community’s values of diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

UVA is public in the most profound and meaningful sense of that word; we are committed to the public good, and we seek to recognize and represent the great diversity of the public in our Commonwealth and in the country. We believe that diversity is an essential element of excellence, and that intolerance and exclusion inhibit progress. We also support the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. These rights belong to the “Unite the Right” activists who will express their beliefs, and to the many others who disagree with them.

One may stand up for one’s beliefs without physical confrontation. I urge students and all UVA community members to avoid the August 12 rally and avoid physical confrontation generally. There is a credible risk of violence at this event, and your safety is my foremost concern.

Moreover, to approach the rally and confront the activists would only satisfy their craving for spectacle. They believe that your counter-protest helps their cause. One advocate of the rally said, “We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.” The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.

I encourage you to participate in events on Saturday, August 12, that are open to the community and planned by UVA. A group of faculty and staff will be prepared to facilitate discussions on topics such as constitutional rights and citizenship; community dynamics and polarization; and local history. Several University libraries will be open. Athletics has two free events scheduled on Saturday. The men’s soccer team will host Wright State in Klockner Stadium at 1 p.m., and beginning at 4 p.m., Athletics will host its Fall Sports Meet-the-Teams event followed by Scott Stadium Movie Night. Additional details about these and other events scheduled for August 12 will be announced early next week. I encourage participation in these UVA-sponsored events.

With the August 12 rally coming just a few weeks after the KKK rally in July and amid the continued divisive rancor in our national discourse, we are reminded that the struggle for equality, inclusion, and civility requires a prolonged and persistent effort. Let’s do our part to continue this important work.

Teresa Sullivan
President

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