The Gonzaga community is reeling this week after a group of what were presumably students Zoom-bombed and verbally attacked members of the GU Black Student Union (BSU). They also declared that they were Trump supporters who planned on killing President-elect Biden, all while flooding the members’ screens with graphic images of pornography and people being shot.

According to those at the meeting, the attackers numbered from six to eight and remained anonymous by turning off their cameras and by muting their microphones.

GU leadership responded to the hate crime in an email signed by GU President Thayne McCulloh, Provost and Senior Vice President Deena González, Vice Provost of Student Affairs Kent Porterfield and Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Raymond Reyes.

“We are sickened and angered by this act of hatred against our students and consider this act to be a violation of both our community standards and an inappropriate attack on our university community,” the email read. “An investigation of this incident began on Sunday afternoon, and we will exhaust every available option to identify those responsible for this heinous act.  If those responsible are identified as members of our GU community, the consequences will be severe.”

While on-point from a public relations and legal standpoint, the president’s email has been interpreted as a performative apology that offers no clear plan of action.

“We will not accept any statements of solidarity, or any promises made, unless they are followed by tangible action,” said the BSU Instagram account, @gonzagabsu, in a reaction to the email. 

The steadfast reaction of the BSU is completely valid. Time and time again, GU leadership promises justice and solidarity for the victims of these hate crimes, though nothing is ever done.

Earlier in September, GU promised justice for the destruction of the #SayTheirNames memorial, but the person who stole several signs was allowed to walk free.

Additionally, GU consistently gives off the impression that it doesn’t want to listen to the suffering students for ideas on how to best move forward. The official 

@gonzagau Instagram account reposted the first half of a BSU post praising “everyone who has shared their support for Gonzaga’s BSU,” however it refused to acknowledge the BSU’s demands of justice on the second half of the post.

GU has also continued to fail in one key aspect: calling out the true reason this hate crime occurred. These attackers were Trump supporters and were therefore committing this hate crime out of solidarity for the president and anger at his recent defeat.

This is not the time for political correctness. In the same way that GU refused to build a Chick-fil-A on its campus because of the company’s homophobic Christian beliefs, GU must also condemn Trump — not from a political standpoint, but one which recognizes that hate crimes against all minorities have been drastically rising under Donald Trump.

This has nothing to do with one’s political standpoint, nor does this argument have a color. But in the same way that Confederate flags and white robes with pointed hoods are publicly condemned as tools of hatred, any of us who claims to reject bigotry in any form must condemn the person who uses it in all forms. Failing to do so would be tantamount to saying there’s “very fine people on both sides.”

As someone who is queer, I know what it’s like for someone to get away with legitimizing their hatred because of their personal beliefs. I’d like to think GU isn’t that kind of place; the kind of place that gives the right of personal belief and expression to those who would use it to take away others’ rights. It wasn’t that kind of place when it came to Chick-fil-A.

But GU’s silence in the continued face of Trump-inspired bigotry — first with the signs of the movement Trump condemned and now this most recent attack — is sincerely frightening. It means that GU is more afraid of stepping on someone’s toes than seeking justice for those kicked to the ground.

As of now, I am choosing to no longer be politically correct when it comes to Trump. The man is a symbol of hatred for so many around the world that even Paris rang its church bells when it was announced that Joe Biden had defeated him. This is neither a red nor blue statement but a human statement, as we know the burden humanity has had to bear under his presidency.

Now is not the time for silence and political correctness. Share in the experience and suffering of the BSU and fight for true justice for them. Call out bigotry every time you encounter it, as it will only get worse with silence.

And above all, be safe Zags. This is a time where these election “reprisals” will try to rear their hateful heads. Let’s help each other and take action to prevent these hate crimes from ever happening again.

Red Kwenda is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter at @RedKwendaWriter. 

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