March and forum planned today; two more hate messages reported

Editors' note: A version of the message below was issued at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, as a Bulletin Update e-mail to the university community.

March and forum planned today; two more hate messages reported

All members of the University of St. Thomas community are invited to attend a "Stop the Hate" march and forum on the St. Paul campus today, Nov. 1, to support three St. Thomas students of color who have been the victims of a series of hate crimes.

The three women, who reside together in the John Paul II Residence Hall on the university's St. Paul campus, now have received a total of four messages over a 24-hour period. All the messages contained racial slurs and some included profanity and threats.

The first message was written on the door of their room late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, Oct. 29 or 30.   On Tuesday morning, a note was slipped under their door. At about 7 p.m. Tuesday evening a note was taped to their door.   At about 2 a.m. Wednesday one of the students was in a computer room located in the basement of the residence hall when a note was slipped under that door.

The St. Thomas Department of Public Safety has significantly increased security measures and will continue to do so until the case is resolved. A Public Safety officer is stationed outside the students' room, and was on duty there early Wednesday morning when the student received the note downstairs in the computer room.   Public Safety is working closely with the St. Paul Police Department, which has assigned an investigator to the case.

The St. Thomas Department of Public Safety on Wednesday posted its second alert in two days about these crimes and continues to ask for help with the investigation. Please visit the Public Safety Web site for details.

As noted in a Bulletin Update sent Tuesday, Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, strongly condemned the hate crimes and apologized to the students on behalf of the university community.

"I have said in the past and will continue to say that hate crimes in any form at St. Thomas are not tolerated and must be condemned," Dease said in his message. "Please join me in condemning such acts and being vigilant to ensure that they do not occur again."

A number of meetings have been held on campus over the past two days. The University Action and Response Team (formerly called the Crisis Response Team) met Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents from John Paul II came together for an all-hall meeting Tuesday evening, and St. Thomas administrators met with student leaders at noon Wednesday.

Staff and students from Campus and Residence Life and Multicultural Student Services also met Tuesday and Wednesday to develop plans for the march and forum that will begin at 11:45 a.m. Thursday.

Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to participate. Marches will begin at three locations on the St. Paul campus and will end at the Summit Avenue arches for a prayer service.

The marches will start in front of Cretin and Grace residence halls on the south campus at 11:45 a.m.; in front of John Paul II Residence Hall at 11:45 a.m.; and in the first-floor lounge area (often called the Blue Lagoon) in Murray-Herrick Campus Center at 11:4o a.m.    The group starting from John Paul II will swing by the other residence halls, picking up additional marchers along the way.

Immediately following the prayer service at the arches, a public forum will be held in Room 304 (the third-floor lounge) of Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

According to a poster that is being circulated throughout campus today, the forum and march Thursday will "address issues of violence and hate in our community.

"Hate crimes on our campus hurt not only the individual targeted but all of us who live, work, and go to school here," the poster said. "These crimes are crimes against our entire community and need to be addressed by all of us.

"We are all in this together no matter who is the target of hate. This is where we live, learn, work and grow. Building community requires respect, understanding and most importantly communication. Your voice is important! Please join us Thursday."

The poster has two headlines: "Stop the hate" and "Bigotry thrives when hatred is tolerated."

For more information about the march and forum contact Tasia Tigue, assistant director of Campus Life, at (651) 962-6195 or