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White House Invites Bell Nic President To Attend Conference On Hate Crimes

North Idaho College interim President Ronald Bell will attend the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes next month.

Bell received a phone call from White House representatives Tuesday afternoon.

“This is another example of what an outstanding place North Idaho College is and I am honored that we are being included in this discussion,” Bell said.

After the president of NIC’s Human Equality Club was harassed earlier this month, Bell reiterated the college’s commitment to welcome people of all faiths, races and cultures.

“No community is healthy unless it is free of prejudice and hatred,” Bell wrote in an open letter to faculty and staff members.

Tuesday, he again applauded Idaho as a leader in anti-hate-crime legislation.

“The college position reflects the strong stance the state of Idaho has taken against bigotry and in favor of human rights.”

Bell, formerly president of Shoreline Community College in Seattle, came to Coeur d’Alene in July to lead NIC for one year as the college searches for a president.

Jeanne Givens, chair of NIC’s board of trustees and prominent member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, said board members are extremely proud that Bell’s leadership is being recognized.

“He brings an attitude that is sensitive to the issue of race, and he takes action on the issue of race,” Givens said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in this short period of time he captured the attention of people.”

College officials said they have no idea who may have nominated Bell or how his name came to the attention of the White House staff. NIC professor and human rights activist Tony Stewart said the region’s malicious harassment watchdog groups look forward to valuable information Bell will bring back to Idaho from the Washington gathering.

President Clinton announced plans for the Nov. 10 conference in a videotaped message for the annual meeting of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment one month ago. The conference is aimed at finding ways to combat bigotry and societal divisions.

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