March 27, 1996 in City

‘I’M Not Backing Down,’ Says Gu Student Target Of Racism Speaks Out; School Urged To Do More Against Bigotry

By The Spokesman-Review

The latest target of racism at Gonzaga University said he isn’t backing down to campus bigots.

“No one is going to stop me from doing what I want to do,” said Paul Taulton, a senior who graduates in May.

“They don’t want to see African-Americans be successful. They are mad because we are going to be successful,” he said Tuesday.

Taulton, co-president of the black student union, said he left his 1995 Toyota Corolla parked in a lot near his dorm Friday night. The next morning, he found his name scratched into the paint along with other random scratches.

“It wasn’t just scratched,” he said. “They messed it up bad.”

He also received a racist message on his telephone voice mail, and someone pounded on his door and ran off into the dark late Friday night.

The incidents came just hours after black law students at Gonzaga received threatening letters in a repeat of two hate mail episodes a year ago.

Just like the incidents last spring, police and campus officials said they don’t have any suspects, but they believe the racism is the work of one or two people.

Some students said they aren’t satisfied enough is being done to stop the problem, and they fear Gonzaga maintains a climate where racists can thrive, or at least go undetected.

“There’s been a lot of talk,” said Brett Tolpin, president of the student Jewish Law Caucus. “They (administrators) haven’t done much at all.”

The Jewish caucus is organizing a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. It starts at the law school and will go to the Crosby Student Center.

Tolpin said students want to show their support for minorities on campus.

During the vigil, the students plan to make public a letter to the administration demanding greater strides toward racial harmony and cultural diversity.

Tolpin said one recommendation is to establish an anti-hate institute at the law school.

Taulton, 21, of New Orleans, said Friday was the first time he’s suffered serious racial harassment in his four years at Gonzaga.

He was recruited by the university four years ago and offered an academic scholarship. He said he thought classmates supported him, but now, “It’s hard to know who to trust.”

Taulton said he believes the harassment may be related to the racist letters delivered to blacks at the law school, largely because of the timing, and he thinks more than one person is involved or knows who did it.

In the law school incidents, two black students found the same threatening letter left at their apartment doors Friday morning.

In the letter, the writer attacked one of the black students, Uri Clinton, for seeking election as the law school’s representative to the American Bar Association.

Last year, the black law students were targeted with two similar threatening letters shortly before final exams.

“Whoever it is, their plan is just to run us out of here,” Taulton said. “I’m not backing down to no one.”

, DataTimes

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