President Chakma: Let’s stand against racism, hate

Western President Amit Chakma issued the following statement Wednesday regarding Charlottesville, Va.:

In a few short weeks, Western will welcome thousands of new and returning students to campus. Faculty and staff have been preparing for the upcoming academic year – a time when our campus feels full of ambition, optimism and possibility.

This year, however, we also find ourselves joining with so many in offering our sympathy for those in Charlottesville, Va., killed or injured while protesting against hate and discrimination. In light of that tragedy, it is important to emphasize where Western stands when it comes to racism and discrimination – it will not be tolerated in any of its vile forms.

Our campus and our country are increasingly diverse and with that diversity comes strength and pride. However, the values associated with diversity – respect, acceptance and understanding – must be defended and constantly practiced in order to maintain them.

As a campus community, we should view the hate seen in Virginia as a wakeup call that serves to strengthen our values and resolve. We must step out of our comfort zone and speak up when we see intolerance. We must listen with an open mind to those who experience exclusion because they’re different.

Western is not immune to the prejudice that resides within all communities. Acknowledging this is a critical step to understanding the issues. However, let’s also resolve to be a campus community that doesn’t simply tolerate our many differences, but one where they are respected and celebrated.

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Campus community members are welcome to contact Western’s Equity and Human Rights Service (EHRS). The staff at EHRS is dedicated to making Western an equitable, safe and supportive environment for students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit uwo.ca/equity/.