By Jonathan Beirne
[email protected]

This opinion comes includes a first hand account from a third year student and SERP fraternity member at the University of Virginia.

Charlottesville, Virginia, home to nearly 47,000 permanent residents, was also home to a “Unite the Right March” on Friday, Aug. 11. Charlottesville, usually the home to tens of thousands of University of Virginia students (UVA), was at the time abnormally empty, being that classes had not yet resumed. However, some students were on campus at this time and experienced this “March” first hand.

Members of the Sigma Phi Society (SERP) fraternity at UVA were required to move in the weekend of the 11, unknowing of the march and protests that were to take place that very same weekend. On the night of the 11, SERP members were gathered in their living room; some were playing various drinking games while others partook in video games.

One fraternity member who was toying with the large speaker system suddenly cut off the music, upsetting and bewildering everyone else in the room. But when the music was turned off, everyone in the house could hear a quiet, yet very distinct chant of “Blood and Soil.” The muffled chant struck the group as odd, but they decided that further investigation was required to grasp the situation at hand fully.

Upon walking out their front door, they were able to see in the distance what seemed to be a small group of people chanting and marching through campus with lit torches, a startling and puzzling sight to say the least. Some of the students seemed disinterested in this discovery and proceeded to return to their activities inside; however, some students were curious and wanted to investigate further. They walked up the street towards the commotion, and could now hear various other chants, much louder now, the likes of which most readers are familiar with and don’t require restatement or reedification in this article.

These few SERP members continued walking towards campus only to see a large group of alt-right protestors wielding lit torches, surrounding the statue of the founder of their university, Thomas Jefferson.

Imagine hundreds of protesters marching through your school in the evening, with lit torches, chanting all sorts of disgusting, offensive and degrading chants, headed straight towards what you regard as the symbol of your school.

Would you think you were in some movie? This kind of thing only happens in movies right? Would you not pay it any attention and simply walk back inside and resume your day?

Being so far away from places like Charlottesville may have you thinking that things like the Charlottesville riots are a thing of the past, but these kind of
activities and demonstrations are on the rise.

This is the opinion of Jonathan Beirne, SJU senior