Over the weekend, a Facebook page dedicated to an organization called the “UVA White Student Union” was created and describes itself as “UVA’s first and only White Student Union.” The page also claims that its creation was inspired by the “desecration of European-American monuments.” This founding claim refers to the controversy surrounding the planned of the Robert E. Lee statue, the of Thomas Jefferson statues and other related events. Although Charlottesville has been center-stage in rising racial tensions, the University community has repeatedly opposed white supremacist efforts. The administration must continue this opposition by condemning the UVA White Student Union for both its stated values and wrongful alignment with the University.
This isn’t the first time that a white student union has made its presence on Facebook. In fact, 2015 witnessed of white student unions popping up at multiple universities. Groups like this only seek to divide us at a time when so much progress has been made in addressing the University’s participation in racism. In the aftermath of the rallies of , the University has addressed many of the , acknowledged its history in the institution of slavery during the and removed the from the Rotunda. Additionally, before the rallies the University laid the blueprints for the . This has been important progress and it is essential that we not allow it to be overshadowed by groups that seek to divide us.
In addition to its hateful ideology, there are several other problems with the organization’s creation. University explicitly states that in order for an organization to receive status as a Contracted Independent Organization, or CIO, it must agree not to use University symbols, logos, mottos, etc. without prior written approval. The organization uses not only the University’s name but its logo and photos of Grounds, despite the fact that it’s clearly not been granted any sort of permission from the University. Although the Facebook page has used sponsored advertisements to reach out to University students, there is no evidence that the organization is located anywhere on Grounds. It is also likely that the founder of this organization is not a University student, making the organization immediately ineligible for CIO status or any sort of affiliation with the University.
The , the continued fight over monuments and the events of Aug. 11 and 12 serve as points of reference in Charlottesville’s continuing fight against bigotry. Accordingly, it seems white nationalists are trying to take advantage of the attention they have garnered in the city to establish their presence on Grounds. In its unjust affiliation with the University, the organization is attempting to attract sympathy for its cause. The administration needs to immediately condemn the organization for not only using the University name, but for making deliberate attempts to further disrupt the University community.