Saturday, August 19, 2017  

 
Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
 
 
Charlottsville Students:Safety Worries 08/19 10:20

   CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) -- When Carl Valentine dropped off his 
daughter at the University of Virginia, he had some important advice for the 
college freshman: Don't forget that you are a minority.

   "She has to be vigilant of that and be concerned about that, always know her 
surrounding, just be cautious, just be extremely cautious," said Valentine, 57, 
a retired military officer who now works at the Defense Department.

   As classes begin at colleges and universities across the country, some 
parents are questioning if their children will be safe on campus in the wake of 
last weekend's violent white nationalist protest here in Charlottesville, 
Virginia. School administrators, meanwhile, are grappling with the difficult 
question of how to balance students' physical safety with free speech.

   Friday was move-in day at the University of Virginia, and students and their 
parents unloaded cars and carried suitcases, blankets, lamps, fans and other 
belongings into freshmen dormitories. Student volunteers, wearing orange 
university T-shirts, distributed water bottles and led freshmen on short tours 
of the university grounds.

   But along with the usual moving-in scene, there were some visible signs of 
the tragic events of the past weekend, when white nationalists marched through 
campus holding torches and shouting racist slogans. The protest turned violent 
last Saturday, when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one 
woman and injuring 19 others.

   Flags flew at half-staff outside the Rotunda, the historic building designed 
by university founder Thomas Jefferson. A statue of Jefferson was stained with 
wax from the candlelight vigil held earlier in the week by thousands of 
students and city residents in a bid to unite and heal. Some student 
dormitories had signs on the doors reading, "No Home for Hate Here."

   UVA President Teresa Sullivan began her address to students and families by 
welcoming "every person of every race, every gender, every national origin, 
every religious belief, every orientation and every other human variation." 
After the speech, anxious parents asked university administrators tough 
questions about the gun policy on campus, about white supremacists and the 
likelihood of similar violence in the future.

   For Valentine, of Yorktown, Virginia, the unrest brought back painful 
memories of when, as a young boy, he couldn't enter government buildings or 
movie theaters through the front door. "We've come a long way, but still a long 
way to go for equality."

   His daughter Malia Valentine, an 18-year-old pre-med student, is more 
optimistic.

   "It was scary what happened, but I think that we as a community will stand 
together in unity and we'll be fine," she said.

   Christopher Dodd, 18, said he was shocked by the violence and initially 
wondered if it would be safe for him to attend UVA.

   "Wow, I am going to be in this place, it looks like a war zone," Dodd, a 
cheerful redhead, remembered thinking.  "But I do think that we are going to be 
all right, there is nothing they can do to intimidate us. I am not going to let 
them control my time here."

   Others feel less confident.

   "As a black man, as a black student I don't know if I can really say that I 
am safe," lamented Weston Gobar, president of the Black Student Alliance at 
UVA. He says he'll warn incoming black students not to take their safety for 
granted. "The message is to work through it and to recognize that the world 
isn't safe, that white supremacy is real, that we have to find ways to deal 
with that," Gobar said.

   Terry Hartle, president of the American Council on Education, said colleges 
are in the process of reassessing their safety procedures. "The possibility of 
violence will now be seen as much more real than it was a week ago and every 
institution has to be much more careful."

   Such work is already under way at UVA.

   In an interview with The Associated Press, Sullivan said the university will 
be revamping its emergency protocols, increasing the number of security 
officers patrolling the grounds and hiring an outside higher education safety 
consultancy.

   "This isn't a matter where we are going to spare expense," Sullivan said.

   Hartle said some universities may end up making the uneasy decision to limit 
protests and rallies on campus and not to invite controversial speakers if they 
are likely to create protests.

   "There is no easy universal answer," said Hartle. "There is an overarching 
priority to protect the physical safety of students and the campus community."

   Sigal Ben-Porath, a University of Pennsylvania education professor who has 
written a book on campus free speech, said universities' key mission is to 
serve as platforms for discussion and debate. "The goal of supporting dignity 
and diversity and inclusion is so that we can have an open and free 
conversation."

   At the University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ said 
campus authorities were working to protect free speech and public safety during 
a rally near campus scheduled at the end of the month and a proposed speech 
next month by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro.

   Student body presidents from over 120 schools in 34 states and Washington, 
D.C., signed a statement denouncing the Charlottesville violence and saying 
college campuses should be safe spaces free of violence and hate.

   Ohio State University junior Andrea Gutmann Fuentes said she now worries 
that she and fellow members of a socialist group on campus could be physically 
attacked while peacefully promoting their views.

   "We're coming to a point where I think we're going to see more physical 
violence being enacted upon people with leftist views," said Gutmann Fuentes, a 
20-year-old linguistics student from Cincinnati who identifies as Latina.

   She said she thinks far right groups have been emboldened by the election of 
Donald Trump.

   "That's definitely a cause of fear for a lot of students on campus, students 
who already have been marginalized, and I think that something like this 
probably heightens those fears a lot," Gutmann Fuentes said.

   She's hopeful that students returning to campus will be emboldened, too, to 
speak out and fight bigotry and hate.

   "I do think that that is a thing that is going to continue to happen unless 
we stand up against it," she said.


(KA)

 
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN