Cohen and Assembly issue statement about Charlottesville

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SUNY Student Assembly President Marc J. Cohen and Executive Committee Members reacted to today’s Charlottesville riots.

Their statements:

“My name is Marc Cohen, I serve as President of The Student Assembly for the State University of New York and I am joined by some colleagues from our executive committee. We were meeting in Albany for our monthly meeting when news of the horrific acts in Virginia came to light. We could think of no better way to show our support for love, equity and inclusion than by making the following statement on behalf of our 600,000 constituents across the State of New York. Institutions of higher education are in many ways temples of public discourse. They embody the marketplace of ideas and encourage thoughtful and meaningful dialogue about issues that can sometimes be divisive and controversial. That is a fundamental practice of any healthy democracy and a shared value regardless of political persuasion. It is clear that the ideas being conveyed by white nationalist groups in Virginia are anything but thoughtful and meaningful. To the contrary, they are hateful, bigoted, hurtful and counterproductive. They are a dark specter of the worst part of our nation’s history and have no place in contemporary society. They tarnish the quality of our national debates. We will not fall victim to the hatred and bigotry displayed by these violent extremists because we know that diversity is our greatest strength and that exclusion is a sure path to defeat. We reject these ideas, we condemn them, and we encourage everyone to engage them, disprove them, and publicly defeat them. As a nation, as students of fact, we say: Don’t stop there. Let’s raise the standard for how we speak and deliberate. Let’s approach those with whom we disagree with intellect and respect, even when they don’t do the same. By doing so we will drown out and overcome the hateful messages we are hearing in Virginia and around the country.”

“Diversity to me means being and thinking differently, and yet, doing it together,” said Representative Vrinda Kumar. “Diversity means to me acceptance and appreciation for all,” continued Representative Sarah Petrak.

“To me diversity means the embracing and just representation of the true spirit of America,” said Carlos Cobo, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “For me, diversity is not just a number or race. It’s about inclusion of all minority factors, and making sure that they are welcome, safe and have the equal opportunity to thrive.”

“Fear of diversity has not propelled any group forward. But enriching love and diversity has pushed students, communities and all of humanity forward. It is our strength,” concluded Omar van Reenen.

“On behalf of the students of the State University of New York, we say to all those who are scared, to all those who feel alienated and unwelcome, we love you, we stand with you, and we will continue to fight hate with love and compassion.”

About the SUNY Student Assembly: The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (SUNY SA) is the recognized student government organization representing the nearly 600,000 students of the State University of New York. Comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses, SUNY SA is committed to empowering students throughout the state, and ensuring the representation of its members on the state and national level, as well as throughout the SUNY system.