Notre Dame Calls Letters Racist

AP, January 29, 2008

The University of Notre Dame is condemning as racist letters sent to students at three dorms.

“We cannot let this kind of hatred go unrebutted, particularly on this campus dedicated to the Christian principle of unity and equality of all humans under a loving God who cherishes each of us,” said an e-mail sent Friday by the Rev. John Jenkins, university president and the Rev. Mark Poorman, vice president for student affairs, to all Notre Dame students, faculty and staff.

The e-mail was in response to letters, signed by a man who gives his address as from Pembina, N.D., that claim blacks on average are less intelligent than whites. The letter tells readers to send $2 to him at a post office box in Pembina, N.D. to receive more information.

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Dennis Brown, a university spokesman, said Monday the school has referred the incident to the postal inspector, but he doesn’t know if there is anything more the university can do.

“It’s a free speech issue,” he said. “There were no threats made. It was just insulting and wrong.”

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There was no specific mention of Notre Dame in the letters and they were not targeted to minority students. The letters were mailed to “occupant” at the dorm addresses. A total of 768 undergraduates live in the three dorms. Notre Dame, a Roman Catholic University, has about 8,370 undergraduate students, of whom about 4 percent are black.

Similar letters signed by the same man were sent to 354 students at Ohio State University last April, a spokesman there said. He did not know if those letters were referred to the postal inspector.

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“Let there be no question that there is no place for such bigotry at Notre Dame,” [Jenkins and Poorman] said.

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