Racial incidents at 3 local colleges

November 12, 2008 6:49:33 PM PST
Officials are responding to racially-charged incidents at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, and St. Joe's and LaSalle in Philadelphia.There is concern that tensions have flared over the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

A street corner just off LaSalle's campus was the site of student violence in wee hours of Sunday morning. Witnesses and victims say that at least 20 white male students, members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, allegedly attacked several black students as a party in their unofficial frat house let out.

"Some guy came out swinging and hit me right in the face," said victim Kelsey White. "As soon as he hit me, I hit the ground."

Freshman Kelsey White says she was a victim and a witness. She claims the frat boys repeatedly chanted racial slurs and condemned the election victory of Barack Obama.

"They went after my friend Ozzy first, George was still in the house. Then about five more white males got on top of Ozzy in the street, started attacking him, kicking and punching him in the street," White said.

LaSalle, which has a roughly 17% black student body, has suspended Phi Gamma Delta and more than a dozen attackers are facing possible expulsion and potential criminal prosecution.

"Specific individuals have been identified by students who made the report as having been the primary assailants, and pretty strong disciplinary action is underway with them, " said Dr. Joseph Cicala, Dean of Students.

On the campus of St. Joseph's University, there has been controversy over the school's delayed response to an October 29th incident inside McShain Hall where racist and sexist language was written on a classroom board along with drawing of a stick figure in a noose.

"Unfortunately, there was a delay in the reporting of this, it was not flagged as hate-related," said Harriet Goodheart, St. Joe's Vice President. "It simply was not identified that way by the person who came upon it."

"I don't think they're taking enough action. I think they will, and I think something has to happen that will fix this campus community," said St. Joe's student James Constantini.

"I would hope that it's just a small sect of students that would do something like that, and that it's not something that crosses the minds of all the students that go here," said St. Joe's student Audrey Fitzinger.

There were racial incidents reported election night on Lehigh University's campus, mostly racial epithets aimed at black students.

Several hundred students attended a meeting Tuesday night on the situation.

The presidents of all three universities have denounced the the comments, and say they will address the acts of racism and ignorance as they emerge.

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.


Load Comments