Letter to the Editor: Trustee and President Ryan P. O’Hara responds to letter by Armenian Students Association and the Assyrian Student Association

Trustee and USG President discusses Polytechnic Campus recognition of Armenian Genocide and Commemoration on April 24th

Ryan P. O'Hara is a Trustee at the ASU Foundation and Student Body President as ASU Polytechnic. He has dedicated his time at Arizona State to the enhancement of the student experience through moral leadership.

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" – Adolf Hitler (1939)

The Armenian Genocide: Hitler’s justification for ordering the Holocaust.

I am writing this in response to the moving letter written by the Armenian Students Association and the Assyrian Student Association regarding our commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 17th, 2017.

As a Trustee and Student Body President, I take pride in our Charter:

"ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves."

The passage of Senate Resolution II executes the vision of this Charter.

This recognition would not have come to fruition if it were not for the tireless sacrifice of student activists spreading knowledge of the Armenian Genocide over the past 24 months. From the day this bill was introduced, it became apparent that this was more than a resolution. It was the teaching of history and the recognition of 1.5 million souls that were erased from memory.

As this bill came to my desk, I paused to reflect. It shouldn’t be the case that my signature in the capacity of USG President carries any weight towards recognizing one of the grave crimes of the 20th century, from which the word genocide came. I am grateful that I can play the tiniest part in this commemoration by ASU, which is long overdue.

I am further heartened by the ASASU Supreme Court Opinion affirming our belief in this principle. Without fear and by establishing precedent, we have opened the door for further cultural acceptance within our University’s halls.

The Armenian Genocide witnessed the senseless murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks between 1915-1923. It is a great crime in world history. By not reflecting and accepting the truth of this tragedy, we cannot ensure that our own futures will be devoid of similar atrocity.

With the ever-spreading conflict in Syria and Iraq, as well as the rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric throughout western democracies, I ask that our students transcend these troubled times to come together to support our Armenian and Assyrian population in commemoration of the Genocide.

In this spirit, I call upon my fellow USG representatives, the Administration and my fellow Sun Devils to join me in locking hands with our brothers and sisters in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th, 2017.

I echo the sentiment of the ASASU Supreme Court calling on students, executive candidates and administration to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th, 2017. I shall be standing alongside the Armenian and Assyrian students on this day, and hope that you will be with us. Together, we can heal the wounds of the past to create a brighter future — one heart at a time. 

Reach the Ryan O'Hara at rpohara@asu.edu

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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