Update on the November 2020 Zoom Attack on the Black Student Union

TO: Students, Families, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends
FROM: Robin Kelley, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer
SUBJ: Update on the November 2020 Zoom Attack on the Black Student Union
DATE: November 23, 2021

One year ago, this month, unknown individuals invaded a Black Student Union (BSU) Zoom meeting and hurled racist and hateful words and images. The purpose of this email is to remember the harm this heinous incident caused within the Gonzaga community and to share updates related to the November 8, 2020 attack.

Criminal investigation

The FBI has notified the University that the perpetrators most likely responsible for the November 2020 attack on BSU reside outside the U.S. and have no apparent ties to GU. While this finding is significant, it does not negate the harm inflicted upon individuals at the meeting or the wider community. We understand that not knowing the identity of the perpetrators is not the closure we all desired.

BSU Task Force

Created in Spring 2021, the BSU Task Force began meeting this Fall to discuss BSU priorities from their Contract Demands document, and to ensure a welcoming, safe, healthy, and inclusive campus climate for Black students and other historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. The priorities include:

  1. Reassess and reform restorative justice processes
  2. Faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion training/education
  3. Recruitment and retention of faculty and staff (of color)

Although there is still a great deal of work ahead, the BSU Task Force has made progress to date:

Reforming the Restorative Justice process

Assistant Dean of Students Paula Smith, who oversees GU’s Restorative Justice program, met with the Task Force to discuss current changes and to invite members of the Task Force to provide feedback on the restorative justice process.

Diversity, equity and inclusion training for faculty and staff

To date, more than 1,300 faculty and staff have completed DiversityEdu, a three-hour intercultural fluency training program. Faculty members represent 46 percent of the more than 1,300 completed programs. Students on the BSU Task Force have requested mandatory DEI training for faculty. The Task Force is exploring options to engage leadership in a discussion about required DEI development for faculty.

Please email the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ODEI@gonzaga.edu if you are a student, faculty, or staff member needing access to the program.

Recruitment and retention of faculty and staff of color

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), in collaboration with the Office of the Senior VP and Provost and the Faculty Senate, have worked to revise the Faculty Recruitment and Retention Policy to include a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and practices for all faculty searches. Additionally, ODEI is currently reviewing all faculty position descriptions and consulting with departments to ensure strategic DEI advertising to create a broader pool of diverse candidates. ODEI has also revised the University’s Underrepresented Minority Postdoc Fellows program to include an emphasis on retention, which has resulted in the hiring of two faculty of color for this academic year. Multiple University departments are revising practices to promote recruitment of staff of color. The Task Force will engage Staff Assembly, ODEI, and Human Resources in a discussion about strategies to better diversify Gonzaga University’s staff employees.

While the November 8, 2020, Zoom attack was deeply disturbing and disruptive, it also provided a catalyst for important conversations and work. This is a work in progress, and it is extremely important work for us to do together.


I want to close by recognizing everyone who has shown the courage to speak out, to share your experiences, and voice your expectations of a Gonzaga University where every person is respected.

Thank you.