Wolverines react to Charlottesville

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Photos by Kimberly Bojorquez

In the wake of the white nationalist riots that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend that left three people dead and dozens injured, members of the campus community gathered at the Salt Lake City and County Building to attend a solidarity rally and condemn violence and racism, August 14.

Augustin Diaz, program director of the Educational Opportunity Center at UVU and speaker at the rally, was not surprised by the violence that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.

“I’m not surprised. People act shocked, people act like, ‘wow this stuff is still happening?’” Diaz said. “This has just been [publicized] recently.”

Kyli Cayro and Colin Dively of Salt Lake City attend the solidarity rally August 14, at the Salt Lake City and County Building.

Diaz was asked by prominent Salt Lake City activist and co-founder of the Utah League of Native American Voters, Moroni Benally, to speak to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints audience at the rally.

“He wanted me to talk specifically to the LDS community, because I do identify as LDS,” Diaz said.

Diaz said that while inclusion and diversity at UVU is great, there needs to be a bigger push towards a more critical understanding of diversity on campus.

“I work with Latinx and Chicanx students, who still don’t know their own history because those things aren’t offered at UVU. And in our communities of high schools they are still not offered there as well,” Diaz said. “There’s still so much work that needs to be done. There’s still some form of violence that still happens. At UVU, we’re scratching the surface of some areas, but we’re not even hitting anything at all in some cases.”

UVU’s chief diversity officer Kyle Reyes, who also works as a special assistant to UVU President Matthew Holland for inclusion, attended the event with his 11-year-old son. Before attending the rally, Reyes sat with his children at home and had a long family conversation on subjects such as, the holocaust and the colonization of the Pacific Islands. “One of my desires for my kids, is not that they grow up angry, but that they grow up “woke”. That they grow up aware.”

Chief Justice of UVUSA, Jaxon Olsen, attends rally.

The questions of, “what can we do to make sure that our students at UVU feel like UVU will still be a safe place for them,” and “what does this mean for UVU’s inclusion and diversity efforts?” immediately kicked in after Reyes heard news of the Charlottesville events.

According to Diaz, a lot of students express the belief that they cannot speak towards racism or have the support of their faculty members to discuss those issues. “The important thing for me is that we organize and work locally,” said Diaz.

“You can’t sit on the sidelines on these issues. I want people that I work with, students that I work with that I’m living what I’m preaching. I didn’t show up with an angry in terms of like, it was truly showing in solidarity. And that’s how I’ve tried on working on inclusion and diversity at UVU,” said Reyes. “There are moments like these, where you just need to show up.”