September 29, 2020
Dear Gonzaga University Community Members:
We have recently been made aware of an incident on campus that calls us to speak directly to Gonzaga's commitments and the kind of community we aspire to be. Campus Security and Public Safety found and removed stickers promoting a group called “Patriot Front” from various campus locations last week and are further investigating the incident to see if identification of those responsible might be possible. A number of faculty, staff and students noticed the stickers and reported their existence to the Gonzaga University Bias Incident Assessment Support (BIAS) team for an immediate response.
The Patriot Front is a domestic white supremacist, neo-Nazi, neo-fascist, and nationalist group that traffics in hate and racism through the imagery of patriotism, liberty, and other widely accepted American values to promote its hate ideology and propaganda. The Patriot Front ideology is incongruous with our mission and values of establishing and sustaining a safe, welcoming, and supportive living, working, and learning campus environment for all members of our Gonzaga community.
GU is our home. We are a community of Zags committed to the care of the whole person and advancement for the greater good. As a Jesuit Institution, working towards greater justice and inclusion is an essential component of who we are and of how we are called to be contemplatives in action. These hate-motivated stickers on our campus occurred in the larger context of the exhausting demands of the pandemic and of such natural disasters as terrible wildfires and dangerous regional air quality. Cries continue throughout our country for racial justice, fueled by the killings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbry, Breonna Taylor, and the shooting of Jacob Blake, and the many Black Americans injured or killed this past year. This past Wednesday, the Attorney General of Kentucky, following the findings of a grand jury, announced that the police officers who were associated with the death of Breonna Taylor would not face criminal charges connected to her killing – an announcement that has been met with dismay and new protests in communities around the country.
It is in this context that we continue to address actively racial justice across the curriculum and through co-curricular programs in the Jesuit tradition. We do not condone the messaging or ideology of white supremacist groups, whether directly or vicariously communicated. Conversely, we, senior leaders of Gonzaga University, believe in the dignity of every person and feel a deep sense of responsibility for affirming this belief when circumstances such as this arise. We denounce racism in all forms and affirm our goals toward creating a campus environment of inquiry and where the truth of our national and institutional history regarding racism is actively engaged and respectfully confronted as our aspirations of being an antiracist campus are realized.
We cannot undo the stickers' negative impact on members of our community, especially those in traditionally marginalized, visible, or invisible racial and ethnic groups. We can reaffirm our values and emphasize our commitment to creating a sense of belonging and community as we work together towards equality and justice for all. As a university community, we prioritize equity, inclusion, human dignity, and diversity recognizing these as complex human differences and request a faculty, student, and staff commitment to the promotion of justice and to the creation of an environment that matches our values.
Our Bias Incident Assessment & Support (BIAS) Team exists to support individuals and communities impacted by bias incidents and hate crimes and assess and make recommendations on the impact of bias incidents and hate crimes on Gonzaga’s overall campus climate. More information on how to report an incident can be found at https://www.gonzaga.edu/reportbias. It will continue to examine this recent incident.
The Gonzaga Institute of Hate Studies (GIHS) originated in response to racist incidents on our campus over 20 years ago. From that point forward we have remained committed to education and research that works to better understand bias and bigotry in any of its manifestations and how to counter those capacities and processes. GIHS joins students, staff, academics, and community members in a local and global network to share resources and coordinate action. More information about our work can be found at www.gonzaga.edu/hatestudies.
If you would like to know more about our efforts to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive campus environment, please visit the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at https://www.gonzaga.edu/about/diversity-equity-inclusion. If you need resources and support, please reach out to the staff in UMEC (x5836), CCP (x2227), Health & Counseling Services (x4052), or visit https://www.gonzaga.edu/student-life/health-well-being/health-counseling-services.
We also encourage you to participate in these upcoming events, programs, or discussions related to racial justice and look forward to your presence at others through the academic year:
- Tues, September 29 – John Lewis: Get in the Way
- Mon, October 5 – Talk About It Monday: It's Not About Good Cops vs. Bad Cops
- Tues, October 23 – Calling in the Calling Out Culture with Loretta Ross
Raymond F. Reyes, Ph.D.
Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer
Robin Kelley, Ph.D.
Associate Chief Diversity Officer
Deena J. González, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.