SGA president signs letter denouncing violence in Charlottesville, VA

George Andersen and Blakeley Bartee

Dylan John, Georgia Southern University Student Government Association (SGA) president, signed a letter along with SGA presidents across the United States denouncing the actions that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

White nationalists gathered Saturday in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally, wielding torches and protesting the potential removal of the city’s statue of Robert E. Lee, as stated in The New York Times. The rally resulted in violence.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was charged with second-degree murder on Saturday after he allegedly drove his car into a line of other cars, pushing cars into a crowd of pedestrians whom witnesses said were counterdemonstrators, killing one and injuring 19, according to the New York Times.

More than 100 SGA presidents signed the letter, posted on Twitter by Jeremy Paul, Otterbein University SGA president. This is the message written in the letter:

“As Student Body Presidents across the United States, we are deeply saddened by the events that have occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. We are united with the students of the University of Virginia, as what affects one of our campuses affects us all. College campuses are spaces that students should be able to call home, not places of violence, hate, and racism. Students should always feel welcome and safe at our incredible higher education institutions, never having to fear for their personal well-being. As the voice of our students, we collectively call on one another to speak up in the face of injustice, as silence reduces us to bystanders in oppression. This is a statement to not only support the Student Body at the University of Virginia but to make clear our advocacy for the victimized and marginalized students on all our campuses. 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. If the students of the University of Virginia or the citizens of Charlottesville need any assistance, please know you have a network of universities that supports you.”

“We [SGA presidents] decided that a statement was appropriate to say that we do stand against acts of violence and racism on our campuses,” John said. “Above all, we want students across the nation to know that student governments stand together in supporting and ensuring that our students feel welcome and safe on campus.”

John said it is very important that the SGA presidents make the statement collectively, because together, the SGA presidents in the National Campus Leadership Council have a combined student body in the millions.

John said, “I want Georgia Southern students to know that we stand with students who may feel like they are marginalized at any point. Student government is an outlet to support our students, to protect our students and work with university administration to ensure that our students feel welcome and safe at all times.”