As I welcome our new and returning students to University of Connecticut School of Law, my usual excitement is made somber by the shocking events of this last weekend, in which a band of hatemongers took to the streets of Charlottesville spewing racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, culminating with the death of a young woman in an apparent act of domestic terrorism.
This is a time when leaders must speak up, and failure to unequivocally reject these actions is a failure of leadership. The University of Connecticut School of Law condemns and rejects racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. As much as we protect freedom of speech we must condemn those who abuse that privilege to attack our country’s core principles and threaten others who defend those principles. I am proud that our law school, and indeed our profession, are bound by our missions to advance justice and human rights. As UConn President Susan Herbst affirmed in a recent letter to the university community, we will never capitulate to the “poisonous ideas and attitudes we saw last weekend.” Instead we will strengthen our commitments to diversity, intellectual freedom, compassion and dignity.
These events have profound effects on everyone in our community; indeed that was the intent of their organizers, who intended their march to draw hate-filled activists from across the country, and through their example give frightful inspiration to others who share and might act on these repugnant views.
And so I welcome you to join me here at UConn where we work together to advance connection, respect, and civil discourse, and to serve our country’s deepest values of equality and respect for human rights.