RENO — The University of Nevada, Reno community is supporting a unifying campaign as the campus roils in racial tension stemming from a white nationalist student whose viral photo has become a defining image of the deadly Charlottesville protests.
Students returned to class Monday after the institution made national headlines when student Peter Cytanovic became the poster child of the white nationalist rally.
Students lined up Tuesday for “I am the real Nevada” T-shirts. The marketing campaign organized by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, the undergraduate student government, focuses on spinning a positive message from campus.
Student leaders ordered 5,000 T-shirts.
“What everyone is talking about is this one student,” said student body president Noah Teixeira about the-20-year old history and political science student photographed screaming at a rally. “We are campus of 18,000 students. There are 17,999 other stories that we can tell instead of the current one.”
At a new student welcome last week, University President Marc Johnson told thousands of freshmen it was important the graduating Class of 2021 understands the kind of institution it was attending.
“We are not an institution that is defined by the action of just one student,” he said.
Cytanovic, who was first identified as Cvjetanovic, the last name he uses on social media accounts, was protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, when a photo of him shouting went viral.
The university defended Cytanovic’s right to remain a student and keep his on-campus job.
Cytanovic said he resigned from the job with the Campus Escort service, a free program that gives thousands of rides to students near and around campus from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
University officials said Cytanovic had not officially started that job or gone through training. Student leaders said they were not comfortable with Cytanovic in that role.
Cytanovic said it was strongly suggested to him by staff overseeing the escort program that he resign and that he would be given the option to apply for other jobs on campus.