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Student Government Condemns VCU President’s Statement

The VCU Student Government Association released an open letter criticizing Virginia Commonwealth University for its response to protesters who shattered windows around the campus.

*Patrick Larsen reported this story.

The VCU Student Government Association released an open letter criticizing the school administration for their reaction to violence and property damage at protests last weekend.

President Michael Rao issued a statement on property damage caused by protesters this week, saying that the damages to school property total near $100,000. VCU Police released security footage of some of those protesters, asking the public for help with identification. Rao also said that VCU had called on the Commonwealth’s Attorney to press charges.

Elected representatives of the SGA say the school is attempting to deter students from further protests.

Sydney Biondi is a sophomore at VCU and serves as the SGA’s Secretary of State. She says Rao is “gaslighting” the student body with damage costs - she says a school that charges $30,000 for out-of-state tuition should be able to come up with the funds.

“They’re prioritizing $100,000 over the deaths of Black and brown people every day, and we don’t stand for that,” Biondi said.

The letter condemns cooperation between Richmond and VCU Police and demands that the university defund its department.

“I think there’s a disconnect between VCU and what they think VCU students think right now,” Biondi said. “We value people over property.”

Biondi says that the message received unanimous approval from all SGA officers available. 

Biondi did not comment on reports that some of their officers had been arrested for trespassing violations around Monroe Park - charges, she says, that were never filed on students or city residents prior to the months of protests in Richmond.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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