UNR freshmen welcomed with reminders on race, violence

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UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO, Nev., (KOLO) The University of Nevada Reno welcomed the class of 2021 with a good deal of ceremony and a reminder of the school's commitment to diversity and free speech.

It's a passage that perhaps should be marked with a measure of pomp and ceremony.

The new freshman class at UNR was certainly treated to some August 25, 2017. As families looked on, the new students were treated to plenty of advice on navigating the next four years of their lives. They were inducted into the Wolf Pack family, sang the school's Alma Mater for the first time and took an oath to the school in a candlelight vigil.

But before much of that they were reminded that the campus is no refuge from the controversies that may roil the world outside... in this case, the recent violence at a school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

There is an unexpected connection here with that incident. One of the participants in the torchlight march that set off that violence is a UNR student. He was welcomed back to the campus. His views were not.

"We had to make sure that these freshmen and these parents knew that that one student did not represent the rest of the university," said UNR President Dr. Marc Johnson. "Our university, as stated in the faculty statement that they put together, is fully supportive of dignity for everyone with no one supreme over another."

Charlottesville and the Peter Cvjetanovic's presence there and the issues it raised, in fact, provided a teachable moment for Johnson, a chance to reaffirm the school's commitment to both diversity and free speech.

"We welcome all ideas as long as they can be expressed, evaluated and discussed in a civil manner. But when Charlottesville turned to violence, that's way beyond the pale. You shine a light on ideas and you will either get popular acceptance or revulsion. And I think that's what we saw across the nation."