Torches fill the streets. People are pushing, shoving, mauling. Shots are fired and cars are driven onto the sidewalks full of civilians. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old girl is at home, packing to head to college at University of Nevada Reno (UNR) in the fall, where she will not escape the fear that runs through the people of Charlottesville, Virginia.
This fear should not exist, but is a product of our freedom and the university’s poor handling of such an important issue in the national spotlight.
After the “Unite The Right” rally on August 12, 2017, photographs of multiple white -supremacists and Neo-Nazis fled onto Twitter. Within days, people lost jobs and relationships, due to the extreme racism and prejudice seen during the rally. Companies, and people in general, refused to be connected to someone waving a swastika flag through the streets. Among those were Peter Cytanovic, a UNR student and employee.
Cytanovic’s attendance at this ridiculously inhumane rally called question to whether he should be allowed to attend and work at UNR. His expulsion went up for trial, and just as everyone thought that justice and karma came to those who deserved it, his expulsion was not approved. The reasoning behind his freedom from social justice was his right to freedom of speech.
“The university does not necessarily — well, we definitely do not — support the content of his message,” Johnson said. “But we have no constitutional or legal right to fire him from his job or expel him from the university,” said UNR President Marc Johnson.
The logistics of it is simple – the spiteful words he yelled are part of freedom of speech, and the torch filled streets are part of freedom of assembly. Both have borders, but neither have been crossed legally, making it impossible for yet another white college student to get off the hook for something morally wrong, such as Brock Turner.
Cytanovic’s protest and hate speech rests comfortably under the protection of the first amendment. Though, he seems to be the only one in the clear. The fact that UNR cannot do anything, as well as 628 other public colleges in the United States, will forever put off students from being remotely interested in attending a school that allows this to happen.
No one in their right mind wants to attend a school with students who protested among people who want to terminate an entire race. It’s the attendance of one kid versus the attendance of hundreds, possibly thousands, who don’t feel safe at school.
With UNR as a top option for many Spring Valley, and Nevada students, the university should have reconsidered the way it handled its national media attention.
Since elementary school, we’ve had lessons and watched cheesey videos on bullying. It is a common lesson that all bystanders are just as guilty as the bully. UNR and their people can be held just as accountable by allowing Cytanovic to stay, rather they are defending his views or not. If schools follow in these footsteps, if they don’t make a change and step toward morally directed choices, colleges are going to see a drop in attendance.