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Building bridges

Gonzaga University spreads the word about International Day of Tolerance

About 150 Gonzaga University students gathered to celebrate International Day of Tolerance on Nov. 16, 2011, at the GU Crosby Center.
About 150 Gonzaga University students gathered to celebrate International Day of Tolerance on Nov. 16, 2011, at the GU Crosby Center.

During and after the election there is always much talk about the value of working together, moving forward and showing tolerance of each other’s differences.

On Friday, Gonzaga University is giving students, staff, faculty and community members a chance to do exactly that by celebrating International Day of Tolerance outside the Crosby Center on campus.

“It’s the third year we are doing this,” said Tracy Ellis-Ward, director of Gonzaga’s Unity Multicultural Center, which is organizing the event. “I guess you could say we are trying to start a new tradition.”

This year, because Gonzaga is celebrating its 125th anniversary, Ellis-Ward is challenging 125 students, 125 staff and faculty and 125 community members to join the event.

“We are really trying to bring the community into the celebration, to bring different people together,” Ellis-Ward said. “It’s also a way for our office to build bridges on campus.”

International Day of Tolerance was started by the the United Nations in 1996. It was created in response to U.N. Year of Tolerance in 1995, and its purpose is to honor and advance tolerance, dialogue, respect and cooperation between different cultures.

Mayor David Condon and Spokane police Chief Frank Straub will speak at the event and leaders from the business, faith, education and government communities are expected to participate.

Participants will form a human chain by linking arms and standing together.

“That’s a very powerful presence to stand together like that,” Ellis-Ward said.

Past years’ celebrations have gathered between 125 and 150 people, said Ellis-Ward, who’s hoping for many more this year.

“In keeping with the 125 theme, we will also be presenting 125 social justice facts from every continent,” Ellis-Ward said.

International Day of Tolerance is celebrated around the globe in many different ways, and Ellis-Ward said she’s happy to see participation growing.

“I hope people come to support the recognition of social injustice,” she said. “This is a great way to tie into what tolerance and global diversity is all about.”

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