Sterk, College Republicans Group Decry Charlottesville Violence

The Emory community spoke out against the violence and hatred displayed by extremist groups after last weekend’s deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va.

University President Claire E. Sterk condemned “supremacist ideology” in an Aug. 14 all-Emory email responding to the events, which saw white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups violently confront counterprotesters.

“Supremacist groups … seek to undermine the fabric of civil society through ignorance, fear and violence,” Sterk wrote, adding that their actions conflict with Emory’s “core values of equality, inclusion and the pursuit of knowledge.”

Sterk’s comments follow last weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally, intended to protest the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park. Events turned fatal when a car rammed into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others. Two state troopers monitoring the demonstrations died in a helicopter crash.

Student group Emory College Republicans denounced “all forms of white supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry” in an Aug. 14 Facebook post. “The Alt-Right, the KKK and neo-Nazis are a stain on our country and what it stands for — the proposition that all men are created equal.”

After a few members of Republican student groups at other universities were identified at the rally via social media and then criticized for their involvement, the College Republican National Committee called on any member who condoned the protests to step down from their position within campus organizations. Emory’s chapter, which seceded from the national organization June 8, told the Wheel that none of its members attended the rally.

Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair told the Chronicle of Higher Education that institutions are obligated to stand by their values and speak out against white nationalism.

But students with racist views still have the right to learn, Nair said.

“I am not suggesting protect their ideas,” Nair said. “I am saying protect their ability to be a student to the degree possible.”

Student Government Association (SGA) President Gurbani Singh (18B) and Vice President Natasha Armstrong (18B) echoed Sterk’s sentiments in an Aug. 15 email, writing, “we do not stand by nor do we encourage words or actions of hate against any individuals or groups in our community.” SGA also offered resources for undergraduate students “who need assistance or accommodations at this time,” but did not specify what resources would be available. SGA did not respond to request for comment by publication time.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who criticized the “vile displays of racism” and “violence as a means to promote bigotry and hatred” in an Aug. 14 press release, said he would soon make a decision in response to petitions to rename streets named for Confederate leaders or the Confederacy in Atlanta.

Reed ordered Atlanta City Hall flags to be flown at half-staff Aug. 14 to honor the victims of the Charlottesville violence.

This article will be updated as information becomes available.

UPDATE (8/17/17 at 3:14 p.m.): The article has been updated to reflect student group Emory College Republicans’ comment.