Protesters interrupt Tech president during his state of university speech
BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands’ second annual state of the university speech Friday was temporarily interrupted by a group of students who criticized the school for employing a man they allege to be a white supremacist.
About 10 minutes into Sands’ address, one student in the crowd stood up, waved his arms and yelled “President Sands! Why do you employ a white supremacist?” The student then yelled again, asking why the man is being allowed to work at Tech.
The Roanoke Times is not naming the employee in question because the newspaper was unable to independently confirm his identity as of Friday evening.
Seconds after the first outburst, another pair of students rose from their seats on the opposite side of the Moss Center for the Arts auditorium and held a banner with the phrase “Nazis get off our campus.”
They shouted over
Sands as he tried to power through his speech and threw tiny white pieces of paper containing information on the individual in question.
As about five students were escorted out of the auditorium by university security, they chanted. “No Nazis! No KKK! No Fascist USA!”
Among them was Tori Coan, who has filed a formal complaint against the man with the university’s Division of Administrative Services.
“We have spent a month talking to administration, asking them where are our answers,” Coan said. “We haven’t had any action and we felt like the student body and the campus community had a right to know.”
When Sands stopped his remarks, he said: “This is not the time or place for this,” as the protesters were being escorted out by security.
During his speech, Sands praised the school’s community partners, boasted of increased applications and enrollment numbers and pledged for a better and bright future of innovation.
Afterward, Sands confirmed to reporters that he was previously aware of the protesters’ concerns but did not discuss what action the university may or may not take to address them.
“I understand the conflict of the principles that they are raising. I feel the same way,” Sands said. “The specific concerns that they raised have to do with an individual who has professed on his own time through media his opinions, which are in stark contrast to our principles of community. We’re working through that process.”
Sands continued: “Certainly free speech, we all value that. We also want to maintain an inclusive campus.”