During the past few days, articles have appeared in the local and national news about a torchlit protest and subsequent candlelit vigil in Charlottesville that took place over the course of this past weekend. It’s important to understand what has prompted these events. Over the course of the past several months, the Charlottesville City Council and city residents have been having a dialogue regarding a historic Confederate statue in the city and whether it should be removed. The council voted to remove the statue but there is now legal action preventing these actions from occurring for six months. The city’s decision has drawn both concern and support from a variety of groups and political figures and the events of this past weekend (both the protest and vigil) are outcomes of the decision.
What shouldn’t be lost in these events is that dialogue has been part of the process and should continue. The University is part of the broader Charlottesville community – our students are interns, employees, gym members, shoppers, patients etc. While we may not be able to prevent these types of incidents from occurring, as a community it is important to have open conversations about them and not turn a blind eye – but to have our eyes, hearts, and minds wide open. The physical and emotional safety of our students is paramount to the leadership of the Darden School. We agree that all have the right to express opinions but not instill fear. At Darden, we embrace the challenging discussions surrounding diversity, equality, and justice that face not only our city but our society because it is our mission to develop leaders who are prepared to lead responsibly through the most difficult issues confronting business and the world. When we disagree we must summon our better selves and reject previous paths that have been incendiary and divisive.