TSG responds to Charlottesville protests

Kayla Martin, Activate TU's candidate for vice president of services (left), Tyrell Mann-Barnes and Paige Hill, the candidate for vice president of external affairs. FILE PHOTO | GENEVA HEFFERNAN

UPDATE: This story was changed on Aug. 14 around 2:30 p.m. to reflect new information about the number of student government representatives who signed the statement. 

The executives of more than 100 student governments at colleges across the country, including Temple Student Government’s president and vice president, signed a statement today in support of the University of Virginia’s student body after the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

“College campuses are spaces that students should be able to call home, not places of violence, hate, and racism,” according to the statement, which was posted on TSG’s Twitter. “We will continue to support students and universities in their peaceful resistance to violence, racism, white supremacy, bigotry, and acts of terrorism on our own campuses and beyond.”

Teresa Sullivan, president of UVA, released a statement Friday night that condemned the actions of the protesters.

“I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protesters that marched on our grounds this evening,” she wrote. “I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order.”

On Friday, the night before a planned “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, white nationalists marched through UVA’s campus, holding tiki torches and chanting “white lives matter” and “blood and soil,” which is a Nazi slogan. The march was later disbanded by police, according to CNN.

The “Unite the Right” rally held yesterday was planned as a protest against the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, as well as the renaming of two parks in the city that had been named after Confederate generals — Lee Park and Jackson Park — to Justice Park and Emancipation Park, respectively.

Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes said this statement is the first time that a large group of student governments are working together to “combat blatant acts of racism.”

The statement was drafted by student government leaders in a group chat after Zaynab Abdul Qadir-Morris, president of the Associated Students of the University of California, said she was planning to release a statement addressing the protests to her school.

“@templetsg and over 50 student governments stands in solidarity with those impacted by the blatant acts of racism in Charlottesville,” Mann-Barnes tweeted from his personal account.

He also posted on Monday that more student government representatives signed the statement since it was first posted. It now has more than 100 signatures from student governments in 34 states.

Several Temple students and alumni supported TSG’s decision to sign the statement on social media, including the student government’s former vice president of internal services Kelly Dawson.

“We figured, we can only imagine what the UVA student body is going through,” Mann-Barnes said. “We wanted to show empathy.”

TSG also shared a statement separate from the collective post, re-emphasizing its stance of solidarity with UVA’s student body. The statement also encouraged Temple students to utilize on-campus resources, like the Wellness Resource Center and Tuttleman Counseling Services, “in the midst of these crucial times.”

“To our fellow owls, we encourage you to stay informed, active, and to consistently stand up for what is right,” the statement reads. “Silence, neutrality, and willful ignorance will not make our campus, our country, or our world a better place; whereas, inclusion, action, education, and solidarity will.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that more student governments signed the statement.

Amanda Lien
can be reached at amanda.lien@temple.edu Or you can follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaJLien Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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