Penn State Investigating Hate Mail Incidents

October 16, 2000

Pennsylvania State University Police are investigating a series of threatening letters that have been received over the past week by members of Penn State's African American community. Three of the letters went to students and one to a University official.

"We have made it clear that we will not tolerate racial hatred on this campus," said President Graham Spanier. "Actions that threaten the dignity and safety of any one of us represent threats to all of us. We are committed to having an environment of respect and civility within our University, and we are going to do everything in our power to find the person responsible for sending these hateful messages."

In conducting their investigation, Penn State police have notified the State Attorney General and the FBI, and will work with U.S. Postal Inspectors in an effort to identify the person responsible. The letters contained racial epithets and threats that were directed at the recipients.

The students who received the hate mail have met with University officials and will be provided with support services and additional security.

"It is disturbing and unfortunate that this sort of thing still happens in our country," said Terrell Jones, vice provost for educational equity. "I very much regret that the students were exposed to this sort of hatred. It should serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to continue our efforts to encourage tolerance and diversity on the campus and within the broader community."

?"While this kind of incident gets all of our attention," Jones said, "it is also a good time for all of us to take stock of what we believe and how we relate to those who we perceive as different."

State College Mayor Bill Welch joined with University officials in denouncing the hate mail. "This type of behavior is something that State College will not accept. The diversity that Penn State has brought to this community is one of our greatest assets."

Spanier added that the Offices of Educational Equity and Student Affairs will be redoubling their educational efforts and student programming to nurture an enhanced campus climate for diversity.