President Eric Barron's message to the community on Charlottesville events

Penn State's Old Main on the University Park campus, fall 2016
Credit: Patrick Mansell

As a university, we place a high value on First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly. We encourage civil discussion and engagement in discourse, and believe that a wide range of viewpoints strengthens us as a community.

What we — and the world — saw in Charlottesville, Virginia, was none of those things.

We watched people using hatred, bigotry and violence to intimidate and terrorize a peaceful community. I find it deeply disturbing to see fringe groups using a notable university community as a platform for their reprehensible actions. The result was a senseless loss of life and irreparable damage to innocent people — a tragedy for all. I extend deepest sympathies to families of those impacted and our colleagues — the faculty, staff and students at the University of Virginia — and stand with them in condemning these expressions of prejudice and hate. We must unite in our support of society’s shared values of inclusivity, broad acceptance of differences, and peaceful exchange of opinions and ideas. I urge everyone to be a part of this process. We must not permit these acts of injustice and bigotry to go unchallenged.

We will continue Penn State’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and do all that we can together to foster a safe and open-minded community. To help achieve this goal, I ask all of you to reach out to people different from yourself, listen to new perspectives, and embrace your fellow Penn Staters and neighbors.

Thank you for your support.

Eric J. Barron