SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento State University President Robert Nelsen is starting off the new school year with a new promise to unite the campus against bigotry and racism.

“Today we are going to declare (Sacramento State) a hate-free campus,” said Nelsen in a welcome address to students. “And to be the first campus to in the United States to define what it means to be a hate free campus.”

Nelsen described this current period as one of the “most turbulent times” in US history since the Vietnam War. He says he doesn’t want a repeat of the violence in Charlottesville – especially on his campus.

He’s proposed a series of events throughout the year to help facilitate dialogue around race.

“A lot of it is talking. If you talk, you don’t hate,” said Nelsen.

That message is resonating with students like Sacramento State junior, Aracely Diaz-Ojdea, who says the increase in violence at school events has her concerned about personal safety. For her, President Nelson’s speech sends a strong message, especially since she believes President Trump hasn’t done enough.

“We have seen increasing racism, especially from (President Trump), so this is good,” said Diaz-Ojdea.

Following the events in Charlottesville, Sacramento State students reached out UVA students as a sign of support, and another sign of the commitment to President Nelson’s call for a hate-free campus.

“Despite the 3,000 miles of separation between our campuses, we nevertheless stand with you, for the sake of justice and hope throughout our entire country,” said one student who spoke at the morning assembly.

Some students, however, were critical of the president’s message, saying sometimes what could look like hate, may actually be free speech. They say, while they applaud his efforts, they say implementing change may prove to be much more difficult.

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