Gonzaga hosting three-day 'Conference on Hate Studies'

Gonzaga University will host the 4th International Conference on Hate Studies this October, with keynote speakers such as the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The conference, titled “Engaging with Communities for Justice,” represents one of the world’s leading interdisciplinary academic forums on hate, related social problems, and ways to create inclusive communities, according to Gonzaga’s website, and is being co-sponsored by the Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies, the Kootenai County Task Force for Human Relations, the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force, and the Gonzaga University Center for Global Engagement.

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“The lessons learned and plans which emerge will help educators, researchers, advocates, and others better analyze and combat hatred in its various manifestations so as to lead to communities being committed to peace, human rights, and justice,” said Kristine Hoover, director of the Gonzaga University Institute of Hate Studies.

Among the goals for the conference are to “encourage and suggest ways for individuals, institutions, and organizations to become change agents for social justice in their communities” and teach participants to “understand cultural norms and messages and actions that isolate, blame, and marginalize others.”

SPLC co-founder Joe Levin is set to be one of the four main keynote speakers at the conference, alongside Jennifer Schweppe who co-authored a book titled “Combating Racism and Xenophobia through the Criminal Law,” Idaho state senator Cherie Buckner-Webb, and Rabbi Francine Roston who will present about “Responding to Hate & Cyber-Terrorism.”

According to the description, “Levin has worked with Morris Dees to shut down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups, reformed juvenile justice practices, shattered barriers to equality for women, children, the LGBT community and the disabled, protected low-wage immigrant workers from exploitation, and more.”

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Abigail Osborne, a senior at Gonzaga University and a member of the Gonzaga College Republicans, told Campus Reform that she finds Levin’s inclusion as a keynote speaker to be perplexing, asserting that the SPLC is not always a force for unity.

“What better way for Gonzaga to expose and analyze hate than hosting the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” she said. “The SPLC has done a fine job of promoting mindless tribalism that has worked so well all over the planet of pitting one group against another.”

UPDATE: Dr. Kristine Hoover, director of the Institute for Hate Studies at Gonzaga, told Campus Reform that "the goal of the...conference is to explore and better understand the manifestations of hate that communities are experiencing currently, and to help participants develop skills and insights to successfully address hate-related issues where they live."

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