TURLOCK (CBS13) — Hate and anger that filled the streets in Charlottesville are having an impact on people 2,700 miles away on the Stanislaus State University campus.
On Monday, roughly 20 students holding signs denouncing white supremacy disrupted a welcome address by Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn.
“Hate speech and separatist speech can’t hide behind free speech anymore,” said Jared Brown, a student, and protester.
He and the others were calling for the school to establish a zero-tolerance policy for white supremacy. They also wanted the expulsion of one of their peers, Nathan Damigo.
Damigo, who was caught on camera punching a woman during a Berkley clash of protesters in April, is the founder of a white supremacist group and co-organizer of the Charlottesville rally.
“I don’t want his ideology expressed in congruence with this campus,” said Brown.
Stanislaus State spokeswoman Rosalee Rush was not upset with the demonstration, calling it an exercise of the students’ freedom of speech.
“It was important for her [Ellen Junn] to hear the students, and it was important for her to give the students a voice,” said Rush.
Rush says the school’s president is working on a campaign to encourage free speech and ways to combat hateful rhetoric.
“She’s going to commission us to work with the students, work with the campus community, and the larger community to come up with messaging that counteracts that (hate).
Allowing all voices despite the tone, Rush says they’ll use the words as an educational opportunity.
“Academia is here to raise voices and have productive dialogue,” said Rush.
The school did not confirm Damigo’s status with the university, citing privacy concerns. However, Rush did say if there is ever an immediate danger to someone on the campus, the president will take “swift and immediate action.”