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President Alison Byerly emailed the following message to the campus community today:

This past weekend, Charlottesville, Virginia and the University of Virginia campus were the scenes of a white supremacist rally that turned violent and finally deadly. One counter-protester was killed and others were seriously injured.  These events have received the condemnation they deserve from many voices across the country and around the world, including Democrats, Republicans, independents, and people of all races and walks of life.

The fact that the demonstrators chose to begin their rally on the University of Virginia campus is an affront to the values and ideals that colleges and universities represent.  As communities devoted to free inquiry and open debate, we welcome the expression of opposing and even unpopular views. But the rally that took place in Charlottesville was not expressionit was terrorism.  Demonstrators who carry torches, firearms, and shields do not come to debate or convince, they come to intimidate.  To make a college campus the theater for such a despicable display of racism and hate is a grotesque parody of what our communities stand for.

As we look ahead to the start of a new academic year, it will be important for us to begin with open minds, open hearts, and a shared understanding of the values that bind us together. In adding my voice to those who condemn this weekend’s violence, I wish to affirm that we as a community stand united against actions that are antithetical to the values that Lafayette College represents, and that we hope our students will carry into the world beyond our campus.

President Alison Byerly

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  1. John Rueckert '75 says:

    As a slightly right of center white person. I abhor the concept of White supremacy and what happened in Charlottesville (where I lived for over 20 years). But what I learned is how awful it feels to more middle positioned conservatives that the alt right stands for hate and violence which might be (unfairly) attributed to all conservatives. To put this in perspective, I hope that slightly left of center liberals are just as disgusted with the violent left demonstrations that have occurred at Berkley, the recent Virginia Congressman assassination attempt and yes, some of the counter demonstrators at Charlottesville who came armed with clubs.
    The Charlottesville situation is troublesome on so many fronts. I am certainly not a fan of slavery or the Confederacy, but this is a part of our history. As Trump asked will we be taking down all the statues of Washington and Jefferson who were both slave owners? If we erase history as many on the far left advocate, how will our children understand where we came from and the blood, sweat, tears and lives that were sacrificed to get us to where we are? Is blanking out our history any worse than the book burning Nazis of the 1930’s, much like what the Socialist left are now condemning on the alt right? I have come to conclude that too far right or left is not good. That is why Congress can not get anything done. Our government was set up with many checks and balances. This allows for those slightly right and left of center to reach COMPROMISE, which is a good thing. Both sides bring good ideas to an agreement. Too far right and too far left seem to become non-yielding and violent. In my opinion, Socialism is just as bad as alt right. To Alison’s “open hearts, open minds”, I agree. To Lafayette students I say, please keep an open mind to all viewpoints including extreme factions (how else will you understand the dangers of what they stand for?). This is how you become educated so you can form your own true beliefs. And hopefully, we all stay center grounded enough to be able to COMPROMISE. If we can reach agreement, there is no need for violence. Good ideas come from all viewpoints, as long as they do not stray so far from center as to be threatening to each other and our constitutional ideals.

    1. P Gorzss says:

      Excellent commentary. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Thom Moore says:

    Thank you very much for this intelligent, open-hearted statement. Everyone of integrity, decency, and good will should be absolutely appalled at the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.

    1. bergm JJay Bergman P'11 says:

      Dear President Byerly,

      Why did you not issue a comparable statement after a left-wing zealot tried to kill Republican congressmen in Virginia two months ago? Is compassion called for only when right-wing bigots are culpable?

      A reasonable inference from what you’ve done is that Lafayette College values human lives unequally.

      If that is not your conviction, you have a moral obligation to make that clear.

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