Dear members of the University community,

The week before we welcome our faculty, staff and students back for a new academic year should be a time of anticipation and optimism here at Illinois, but that enthusiasm is tempered by the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, that began with anger and ended in death. Episodes like these remind us of the real human costs of hate, racial bigotry and violence masquerading as civil discourse.

Nighttime, torch-bearing parades and displays of Nazi flags and paraphernalia can only be meant to intimidate, threaten and antagonize. These are the same symbols used just a few generations ago by a movement that murdered millions of people based on their race, sexual orientation, religion and ideology.

The First Amendment assures the right of free speech. But some speech must be condemned as an affront to our values. We cannot afford to ignore the violence such speech produces nor the damage it does to individuals and communities. We adamantly reject the idea of racial supremacy, and we extend our deep sympathy and wishes for healing to the community of Charlottesville.

At the same time, we must take this opportunity to commit ourselves as members of the Illinois community to finding peaceful and effective ways to debate, discuss and argue about divisive issues here at home. We will be defined as a university and a community by how we conduct ourselves in moments like this.

Intolerance, racism and violence are destructive to any democratic society, and they will never be condoned here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Robert J. Jones

John P. Wilkin
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

Danita Brown-Young
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Assata Zerai
Associate Chancellor for Diversity

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