Radford rally draws controversy; university president dispels rumors

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Dr. Brian Hemphill’s letter to students from Sept. 14, 2020.

RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — Radford University President Dr. Brian Hemphill has received backlash from the surrounding community after sending a letter to students on Monday, advertising a student-led march that’s set to be held this Saturday.

Currently the City of Radford has a strict ban on gatherings of more the 50 people, due to COVID-19, and the university has a ban of gatherings of more than 10 people.

There has been concern that Hemphill is encouraging attendance to this March and endangering student and community safety, but the university president said his letter was taken out of context.

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Hemphill sent another email to students addressing the concerns from the community.

He said his email on Monday, Sept. 14, was not an invitation but rather a show of support in both denouncing racism and reporting discrimination.

He explained that this event is student organized and student led, with no connection to outside national organizations not affiliated with the university.

To the concern of public health, Radford spokesperson Caitlyn Scaggs says event organizers have been working closely with the university and health officials to make sure the event can continue with safety in mind.

“This is about free speech,” Scaggs said. “This is also about a group of students who came together with an idea for this event and worked with university leadership to ensure that the event will happen in a safe way.”

The other important thing to note is this event is not open to the public. Being a student organized event, the only people who can attend must have university ID to gain access.

The Bigger Picture March is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. on the Muse Lawn on Radford’s Campus.

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