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PENN STATE HATE MURDER

My younger sister is an undergraduate at Penn State University, where an escalating series of hate letters to black leaders, athletes, and athletes' parents has culminated in the death of an unidentified person (the sender of the hate mail has taken credit for the murder). While the mail has been sent assiduously since last October, President Graham Spanier and the PSU administration have done next to nothing to protect the lives and well-being of their students.
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For more info:  http://www.geocities.com/psuvillage

My younger sister is an undergraduate at Penn State University, where an escalating series of hate letters to black leaders, athletes, and athletes' parents has culminated in the death of an unidentified person (the sender of the hate mail has taken credit for the murder). While the mail has been sent assiduously since last October, President Graham Spanier and the PSU administration have done next to nothing to protect the lives and well-being of their students.

Even after the murder (and a series of direct actions by the PSU Black Student Caucus), their only substantial reaction has been damage control and public relations. There have been numerous large-scale (est. 5000+) protests at PSU, and a few students are even engaging in a hunger strike so that the administration will give in to the demands of the Black Student Caucus (for the actual demands, click the links or read my summary below). According to my sister and other PSU students, Spanier is trying to run out the game; he plans to keep this quiet until May 4, when finals end and most of the students leave. Spanier is also rumored to be using PSU alumni connections to keep the story form reaching the national media.

I am appalled at the self-serving behavior of Spanier and the PSU administration and terrified for the welfare of my sister and her classmates. I implore you to read on, and to take a few minutes and help out. Here's what you can do:

1) Please forward this far and wide. Spanier has been going to great pains to keep this story under wraps, and public ridicule seems to be the only thing he responds to. If anyone has contacts in the national media or nationwide anti-racism groups, that would certainly help, but the important thing is to get the word out, period.

2) Please call the PSU administration and tell them that you are appalled by their lack of action in the face of racism and violence. Tell them that you support the PSU Black Student Caucus and ask them to accommodate their demands. They can be reached at:

PRESIDENT GRAHAM SPANIER
814.865.7611

TERRELL JONES, VICE PRESIDENT FOR EDUCATIONAL EQUITY (a token position created after past racial problems on the PSU campus)
814.865.5906

BILL ASBURY, VICE PRESIDENT OF STUDENT AFFAIRS
814.865.0909

BILL MAHON, PUBLIC RELATIONS
814.865.7517

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. For more info, read on.

Thanks,
Jason

***

As of last October, prominent black PSU students have been receiving anonymous threatening letters. The tenor of the letters has grown increasingly hostile, and in a recent letter, the sender has taken credit for a murder (authorities found a body in the woods). Appalled at the administration's lack of action (PSU has a dreadful record regarding racial matters), 26 students disrupted a major football game and were arrested. In response to this protest, the administration decided to hold a largely cosmetic "no hate at Penn State" rally (they did not consult or ask for input from the Black Student Caucus, but the Caucus endorsed the action anyway); because this was publicized by the University, thousands of students showed up. To the chagrin of the administration, the Black Student Caucus successfully took over the rally and gained the support of the thousands in attendance. President Spanier was forced to negotiate with the students, but talks failed. Students remained camped out at PSU's HUB-Robeson Center (where the negotiations were held), and the Black Student Caucus, supported by thousands of PSU students, continued to press its concerns as the administration alternately stonewalled them and spouted platitudes at them. After days of negotiations, the deal offered to the students by the administration has been deemed unacceptable. From the Penn State Collegian:

"Pettigrew said the student coalition does not fully approve of the budget numbers proposed for the research center in the Penn State plan. He is also disappointed that the restructuring of the Vice Provost position does not grant him/her power over two percent of the each college's budget to be held in escrow subject to the assessment of the success of diversity initiatives. To be effective, the position needs to have more "policing power," Pettigrew said. Mahon said it would be inappropriate to grant the Vice Provost for Educational Equity that specific authority. "That's not going to happen," he added. Black student leaders also criticized the lack of university protocol for dealing with death threats and the poor communication between Penn State departments when faced with such acts of hatred."

As of this writing, the protests (including the hunger strikes) continue.

Racist Mail Spurs Demonstration
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-23-01tdc/04-23-01dnews-1.asp

Letter sent to student threatens death, harm
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-23-01tdc/04-23-01dnews-2.asp

PSU Community to March for Unity
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-24-01tdc/04-24-01dnews-1.asp

Black Caucus takes control of rally to address its concerns
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-25-01tdc/04-25-01dnews-1.asp

Police likely to drop summary charges against protesters
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-25-01tdc/04-25-01dnews-7.asp

Standoff continues at the HUB
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-26-01tdc/04-26-01dnews-1.asp

Autopsy reveals multiple gunshot wounds cause of black man's death
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-26-01tdc/04-26-01dnews-2.asp

University claims 'progress' in talks with Black Caucus
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-26-01tdc/04-26-01dnews-3.asp

A plan, but no consensus
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-27-01tdc/04-27-01dnews-1.asp

A Plan to Enhance Diversity at Penn State
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-27-01tdc/04-27-01dnews-3.asp

Student government offers forum for race discussion
 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2001/04/04-27-01tdc/04-27-01dnews-2.asp

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