After the disturbing developments that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, UVA students are determined to fight against white supremacy. Far-right white nationalists gathered for the Unite The Right rally on Saturday, and in response, counter-protesters brought communities of all color together by carrying out progressive marches and convening in public places, while others shared educational resources online. Since the violence happened, support and strength has been the general sentiment on campus as well, according to a member of UVA's Student Council.
Soon after the rally took place, the university's Student Council issued a resounding condemnation of Nazism and the Unite The Right rally, while calling for unity and compassion in a public statement. Brandon notes that there is an ongoing misconception among observers online that the white supremacists were students from UVA. This is not true, according to Katie Brandon, director of university relations for the UVA Student Council and a Master of Public Policy student, who made clear that the torch-carrying and Nazi-slogan-chanting attendees of the march were outsiders.
"These attendees were not University of Virginia students and most were not from the Charlottesville area," Brandon says. "These white supremacists came from around the nation to bring their despicable ideology and violence to our grounds and Charlottesville."
It would be understandable for students to lose heart after what took place in Virginia. Reports of men touting swastikas on their polo shirts while descending upon the campus covered news media websites on Saturday, stunning viewers in the country and across the world.
"They brought their torches and marched on our lawn and our grounds to intimidate our students, especially black and minority members of our community," Brandon says.
"This weekend left us more unified than ever in our quest to eradicate this abhorrent ideology and deadly violence from our nation."
In chilling photos shared on social media, a group of young activists can be seen surrounded by hundreds of white nationalists carrying burning torches while chanting "you will not replace us." The chant of "you will not replace us" is a more tacit spin on the overtly anti-Semitic chant "Jews will not replace us."
Even with the violence that erupted on campus, Brandon says the students are determined not to succumb to the bigotry that hit the university. Amid Nazi slogans and expressions, Brandon says that students "stood peacefully in the middle of a crowd of people intending to terrorize them," adding that UVA students are actively working on promoting civility "in the face of bigotry, hatred, and unprovoked violence."
That includes members of UVA's Black Student Alliance, who have been been consistently speaking out against racial hate and white supremacy, especially after the events this past weekend.
But it isn't just UVA students actively seeking to eradicate racial animus from the United States. Off-campus and online, efforts to educate readers on race, class, gender, and more have been amplified across on social media. Resources like this one Charlottesville are being shared on Twitter.
Although Brandon says that the students are "angry and heartbroken," the disturbing events of violence on campus are far from putting an end to the university's commitment to racial justice and progress.
While using the local nickname for University of Virginia's students and sports teams — "Hoos," which is short for Wahoos — Brandon says the violence and hatred she saw has united the community. "This weekend left us more unified than ever in our quest to eradicate this abhorrent ideology and deadly violence from our nation," she says. "We are Charlottesville, and we are Hoos against hate."