The Institute for Hate Studies at Gonzaga University celebrated its 20th anniversary Friday, Oct. 12. Following the Westboro Baptist Church protest near campus, members of the Institute discussed the importance of solidarity and acceptance of marginalized communities as they push for another 20 years.
The institute for Hate Studies is “the first interdisciplinary institute dedicated to countering hate through education, research, and advocacy,” according to the Institution’s overview.
Their mission is to expand the accessibility of hate studies on Gonzaga’s campus and link the community to worldwide influencers. This conversation sheds light on the various types of hate and hate groups that are still present in the U.S. and also strategizes various ways of reducing these acts, they say.
“This 20th year recognition reminds us of the gratitude that we have for the founders who had the foresight to create the institute and encourages us to remain resilient,” said Kristine Hoover, director of the Institute.
On Friday, the keynote speaker was Nadine Strossen, author of “Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship” and a professor at New York Law School. She has has also been recognized for her work as President of the Civil Liberties Union and is an advocate for groups fighting hate.
The theme of Strossen’s presentation was combatting hate speech with free speech and acknowledged Gonzaga as one of the pioneering universities to have a multidisciplinary organization focused on hate studies. She trusts that censorship, without a doubt, does more harm than good. She believes the motivation and encouragement of the people that are committed to liberty and justice for all will raise a strong voice to expand our knowledge of hate and attempt to end it, she explained.
The Institute for Hate Studies began in 1997 after African American law school students at Gonzaga were continuously harassed for several years prior to their establishment. The Gonzaga Institute for Action Against Hate was launched to combat these hate crimes seen throughout the nation. Their contribution highlights three areas: research, resiliency, and resources.
The faculty members that participate in this group vary in specialties but come together to discuss ideas on how to create a better atmosphere for all marginalized students. On Friday, the professors discussed various strategies of hate and how Gonzaga can overcome these battles.
There are many projects the institute has inspired that are currently taking place on Gonzaga’s campus. These projects include academic resources, scholarship awards, and conferences. One of the projects is the Journal of Hate Studies, which began in 2002 and allows students easier access to peer-reviewed academic journals centered on hate studies.
“The Journal moved to an online platform that will be open-source,” says Hoover, “and the library has committed to maintaining a hate studies library guide that partners with [North Idaho College] library so that there is regional information readily available of stories and research on how to counter hate.”
Following the Westboro Baptist Church’s presence on Thursday, Gonzaga’s awareness of provocative individuals has led many to come together to strategize how to combat these discriminatory groups.
At Friday’s event, the Gonzaga University Event Service Team (GUEST) interns put out many displays to present various experiences of hate around Spokane. Throughout the tables were exercises that addressed how people are individually experiencing hate and strategies to overcome these issues.
The next institute for hate studies event on April 2-4 is its 5th International Conference on Hate Studies and Student Showcase: Building Peace through Kindness, Dialog, and Forgiveness. This event will be in partnership with the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
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