BSA releases statement condemning flyers posted in Newcomb Hall
Flyers featured Bellamy tweets, doctored photo of Robert E. Lee statue with Confederate flag
The University’s Black Student Alliance released a statement Monday condemning flyers featuring old tweets from Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy and images of Robert E. Lee as a statue holding a Confederate flag, which were posted on the windows of the Multicultural Student Center, LGBTQ Center and Media Activities Center in Newcomb Hall, as well as the former location of Eddy’s Tavern, late Saturday night.
In addition to BSA, 17 other organizations signed the statement, including the Minority Rights Coalition, Honor Committee Executive Board, Student Council, Queer Student Union, Middle Eastern Leadership Council, University Democrats and DREAMers on Grounds.
Bellamy’s tweets on the flyers were dated between 2009 and 2014 and showcased profanities and derogatory language against the LGBTQ community, women and white people.
When attention was first brought to the old tweets in November, Bellamy chose to step down from his position on the Virginia Board of Education. He later resigned from his teaching position at Albemarle High School in December.
The Robert E. Lee statue featured on the flyers showed him holding a snake with the words “modernism,” “globalism,” “marxism” and “[political correctness]” written on it.
This follows Charlottesville’s City Council recent debate, which ended with the decision to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Lee Park, despite a state law prohibiting removal of war monuments. Shortly after, supporters of the statue filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent its removal.
BSA’s statement referred to the flyers as “racially inflammatory” and called on the University community to condemn acts that “promote hate and seek to normalize public bigotry.”
“The Black Student Alliance condemns the sentiments expressed in the tweets attached to the flyers, but we also recognize that they were included in order to send a generalizing derogatory message about Black people,” the statement read. “Incidents such as this serve as a direct assault on Black students and on our community of trust.”
Student leaders responded to the posting of flyers and other incidents of hate speech on Grounds during a Facebook Live roundtable interview conducted by The Cavalier Daily Monday night. The University saw several reports of alleged bias-motivated incidents in the fall semester.
Attiya Latif, a third-year College student and outgoing Chair of the Minority Rights Coalition, said the MRC has always been firmly against acts of hate speech on Grounds because they violate a student’s right to feel safe and included.
“With our Eliminate the Hate campaign in the last semester, we worked very closely with StudCo and a couple other organizations as allies in order to ensure that all students could come together to condemn these acts of hate,” Latif said. “The same stands for now in that organizations are coming together, [and] students are coming together to say that acts of hate are not okay.”
Latif said she felt it was also important that students know how to report incidents of bias and have constructive dialogue with each other.
“One thing that is really important is ensuring that all students know when and where to report [and] how to report the bias that they experience, and that also students are engaging in dialogues with others so they’re able to confront these concepts and really attack the root of the problem, which is a lack of understanding,” Latif said.
Sarah Kenny, third-year College student and Student Council president, said she would like to see Student Council be a better ally this coming year and offer support to groups of students most affected rather than speaking for them.
“We signed off on BSA’s statement today, and we’re sharing that and offering our solidarity and support of them, but not producing our own statement,” Kenny said. “[We are not] trying to take up space in that dialogue, but [we are] working alongside of organizations.”
Kenny also said she wanted to work with representatives and propose policy that would create sustainable changes which could help all students feel safe and protected.
Devin Rossin, a third-year College student and Honor Committee chair, said he would also like to see the Honor Committee become a better ally in the coming year and take stances on relevant social situations.
“I think Honor should exist as an ally to expand the definition of the community of trust beyond just lying, cheating and stealing,” Rossin said.