On Tuesday, August 15 Oswego State President Deborah F. Stanley addressed the campus community regarding the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Three days before Stanley issued her statement, white supremacist and neo-nazis took to the streets of Charlottesville, protesting against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park. These protestors, calling their rally “Unite the Right”, were met with resistance from counter-protestors.
The resulting violence reached levels that caused the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, to declare a state of emergency. The protest soon became violent when one of the white supremacists, James Fields, plowed his car into a group of anti-protesters killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring many others.
As a result, Fields was charged with second-degree murder, and almost $250,000 has been raised for Heyer’s family. In Stanley’s statement, she stated that the Oswego State community stood with her in solidarity against all bigotry and violence.
Stanley continued, condemning the terrorism caused by the white supremacists. In her comment regarding the violence, she states that the acts that were committed are not protected by the constitution.
In addition to that comment, Stanley also mentioned that being silent would hinder the nation’s future on progressing as a more diverse society. Stanley praised the heroic work of the two police officers who died while on duty, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M.Bates.
Moreover, she expressed the sympathy the Oswego State community gives to all of the victims affected by the violence. “President Stanley’s statement exemplified her leadership and support of the entire SUNY Oswego family.” Wayne Westervelt, chief communication officer for the Oswego State office of communication and marketing said.
Westervelt feels honored to work for a president who encourages people to value one another and lift each other up during difficult times. Westervelt also said that her message was shared on social media, with an extremely positive, thankful,and proud reaction from the students, faculty and staff.
Oswego State student Nicole Barry, said that the newsletter was reassuring and that she feels protected and safe in the campus community. She also said she believes that the document, was an effective way for the president to express her feelings with the student and faculty body. Barry said it was refreshing to know that the newsletter is permanent and can reference back to it via email or the school website whenever she feels the need to.
She is happy to know that President Stanley cares about the students and staff. Stanley was not the only member of SUNY faculty to share a message about the Charlottesville violence. The newly appointed SUNY Chancellor, Kristina Johnson, sent a SUNY-wide video message through YouTube.
The chancellors video, which welcomed students back for the fall 2017 semester, also mentioned her feelings about the Charlottesville incident. “I feel strongly that my first responsibility is to address hatred clearly and unequivocally,” Johnson said. “Bigotry has no part in our culture, and we must oppose it at every turn.” “I will do all I can to ensure that SUNY students can learn in an environment free from fear and intimidation,” Johnson said, as she closed her statements on the Charlottesville violence and moved to the rest of her message.