Daily Egyptian

Letter to the editor: Events in Charlottesville are saddening

By Joshua Bowens

We, as members of the Undergraduate Student Government and members of the SIU community, are saddened by the weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The violence that has erupted is an unacceptable display of the unfortunate racial tensions in the United States at this time. However, we cannot let acts like these discourage us. We as an organization strive to promote an inclusive and welcoming environment on our campus.

This year we hope to further improve our campus by working with Registered Student Organizations that promote inclusivity, understanding, listening and communicating with our students on issues they feel need to be addressed and developing initiatives with the administration to promote a welcoming campus for our community.

If at any time you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact USG president Joshua Bowens at [email protected] or at 618-453-6736.

USG president Joshua Bowens is a junior from Chicago studying political science.

1 Comment

One Response to “Letter to the editor: Events in Charlottesville are saddening”

  1. Bradley Skelcher on August 16th, 2017 3:47 pm

    This is a letter from the President and Provost at Delaware State University. I am also a proud alumnus of SIUC having earned my BA, MA, and Ph.D. all in history from SIUC

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    1st Amendment, US Constitution
    Ratified December 15, 1791

    The events taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend led to the death of three American citizens, serious injuries to many more, and a raging debate over what it means to exercise the right to freedom of speech and assembly. It was a significant moment in a long American struggle rooted in race, class, and power. Unfortunately, it was also a familiar moment and one that cannot be tolerated if, as a nation, we are indeed striving for “a more perfect union.”

    To be clear and unequivocal, there is no scenario that one can contemplate where freedom of speech and assembly should include intimidation, violence and/or the loss of life. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled specifically on the categories of behavior that fall outside normal First Amendment protections. These include, but are not limited to, “incitement to violence” and “true threats.” Both seem applicable to this situation, a conclusion substantiated by the brute force of one man plowing his car into a group of “anti-racist” demonstrators in the name of white nationalism, neo-Nazi philosophy, and the long, sordid history of the Ku Klux Klan.

    As leaders of one of the most diverse Universities in our country, we will always speak out fiercely against the actions of these hate groups. They are symbolic of the underlying issue Dr. W.E.B. du Bois first noted in 1900 at the American Negro Academy, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” Now well into the 21st century, our country continues to struggle with issues of equity, equality, and disparity in a broad socio-economic context.

    Those are complex problems, but the solutions to Charlottesville do not require new remedies. In the face of hate, the only proven antidote is UNITY. That unity was on full display in central Virginia, as Americans of different backgrounds and beliefs stood together, risking life and limb, against a common threat to our democracy. They did not retreat, even when faced with intimidation and violent retaliation. And we were all watching.

    So while we are justifiably enraged by the tragic events of the past weekend, and grieve for the victims and their families, Delaware State University also stands in complete solidarity with those who linked arms in Charlottesville to defend all that is good and decent about this nation. We honor the people who have risked and even given their very lives for the notion that we are ALL indeed “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    In the coming weeks and months, we know that our University community — students, staff, and faculty alike — will show its support by our actions. We encourage you to stay vigilant, speak up and show up when it matters most.

    In the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, our ultimate measure, “is not where [we] stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [we] stand at times of challenge and controversy.”

    Today, we stand with Charlottesville and the nation’s never-ending quest for “a more perfect union.”

    Of Service,

    Harry L. Williams
    Delaware State University

    Tony Allen
    Executive Vice President & Provost
    Delaware State University

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