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In wake of Charlottesville, University of Alaska leaders call for tolerance and inclusion

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: August 19, 2017
  • Published August 19, 2017

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, University of Alaska leaders sent emails to students, faculty and staff calling for inclusion and tolerance, as well as the rejection of hatred.

"Now, more than ever, we must all rally around these ideals: UAF welcomes all, including those of different nationalities, religions, races and genders," said the email Thursday from University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Daniel White.

"We are a place for diversity of thought and civil discourse," White wrote to faculty, students and staff. "We reject the type of violence and hatred wrought on the community of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus by white supremacists and neo-Nazis."

Last Saturday, a rally in Charlottesville turned violent as white nationalists, some waving Confederate flags and banners bearing the Nazi swastika, clashed with counterprotesters. During the mayhem, a car plowed into a crowd, leaving one person dead and nearly 20 injured.

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen mentioned the violence in his welcome-back email Wednesday to faculty and staff, underscoring UA's commitment to opportunity, equity, "the peaceful freedom of expression," diversity, non-violence and inclusion.

"As we prepare for a new academic year, we will continue efforts to make our university welcoming to all, including those of different ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities," he wrote. "While discourse on important values and difficult issues may not always be polite, it must always be non-violent."

The chancellors at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau also sent emails with a similar tenor to faculty, staff and students, about a week and a half before the start of fall classes.

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield wrote in an email Wednesday: "As Chancellor, I find the actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semitics, and others who would threaten the rights and dignity of our community to be an affront to our core values of justice, tolerance, equity, and cultural safety. Freedom of speech is not an excuse for violence and intolerance."

Caulfield encouraged students to be involved in "the difficult but essential conversations" about race, power and privilege.

UAA Interim Chancellor Samuel Gingerich called on the university community to oppose hatred and violence and honor and encourage tolerance.

"We value and celebrate our diverse community," Gingerich wrote in the Thursday email. "This is inherent in our mission: to maintain a campus where all can teach, learn and serve."

Classes at UAF, UAA and UAS start Aug. 28.

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