Gonzaga University is not the only Jesuit school where minority students have faced harassment, participants in a national conference at the campus said Thursday.
Threatening letters sent last year to four black students at Gonzaga Law School were not a factor in making Spokane the site of the 15th annual Conference on Multicultural Affairs, sponsored by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
But the timing is fortuitous, said John Clute, the law school dean.
The three-day conference, which ends today, is being attended by about 30 faculty and staff from 15 Jesuit universities.
The incidents here raised the issue of racial hatred and its effects on minority students, said Michael Carey, executive assistant to the president at Gonzaga.
“This is not a minority issue. It’s a white issue - that’s who you have to convert,” Carey said.
Some of those at Thursday’s meetings said their colleges have had similar problems, and that they hope to find ways of getting administrators to better understand the climate faced by minority students.
Last year at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Mo., white fraternity members playing soccer yelled racial slurs at an opposing team of Hispanic students, said John Augusto, director of multicultural affairs at Rockhurst.
A month later, a busload of white students yelled racial slurs at the black man who was driving them home after a dance. The driver quit when his initial complaint to an administrator was ignored.
Boston College has also seen racism, said Donald Brown, director of that school’s multicultural student association.