March 12, 2021
Dear Gonzaga Community:
During this past year, our nation has witnessed a dramatic increase in incidents of violence and hate against Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other individuals who identify as, or have origins in, East Asia, Southeast Asia, or the Indian sub-continent. Just this past Tuesday, a 75-year old man in the Chinatown area of Oakland, California was assaulted and robbed in an attack that has left him without brain activity. Similar events have occurred in other cities all over the country; the New York Police Department reports that there was a 1900% increase in crimes against Asian Americans in 2020 compared with the prior year.
The dramatic increase in these racially-motivated assaults underscores the fact that people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, as well as Asian countries and traditions, have been and continue to be blamed for the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, there are many examples in the national rhetoric regarding the origins of this virus that have been used as an excuse to hurl racist invectives, and to justify commission of acts of violence. I’ve heard from members of our own Gonzaga community who have stated that they too are feeling frightened and dehumanized by this terrible trend.
I am very disturbed by these trends and once again call upon us all to fight back against racism and xenophobia in all its forms. We are proud of our Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian community members and everything they contribute to our campus and the greater community. We want all members of the campus community to feel safe, welcome, and a sense of belonging at Gonzaga University. As I have previously stated, any abuse or attack on our campus and against a member of our community because of their color, race, ethnicity and national origin, gender, sexual preference or creed will be documented, reported, and investigated as a hate crime, and will be subject to investigation and disciplinary action under Gonzaga’s Student Code of Conduct and/or Policy and Procedures Manual. The nature of the incident may also demand involvement by law enforcement authorities, and the University will not hesitate to involve law enforcement in these matters.
Our University is committed to the safety and dignity of every person. If you or someone you know has suffered an incident on campus involving discrimination, harassment or hate, I urge you to complete a Bias Incident Report so we can refer to the appropriate University office and immediately investigate. If there is an emergency situation threatening your safety, please call 911 or the Campus Security and Public Safety Office at (509) 313-2222.
I pledge our support for all underrepresented students, and ask for your commitment to this goal as well. Gonzaga University has pledged to stand in solidarity with those who experience racism and hate in all its forms; we stand in solidarity as we work to fight it in our own community as well. We must work together to eliminate racism from every dimension of our university community and society, and in so doing work towards true equity for all students and community members.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.