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Institute for Hate Studies to Present Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate Awards

Posted on August 3, 2011 in: Academics, Alumni, Events, Faith, Leadership, Servant-Leadership, Service

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies will honor Partners with Families and Children: Spokane (PFCS) and Mary Stamp, editor of The Fig Tree, at its third annual Take Action Against Hate Banquet October 11. PFCS and Stamp are the winners of the Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate Award, which the Institute for Hate Studies presents annually to an individual and an organization in the Inland Northwest.

The Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate Award specially recognizes those who have committed themselves to challenging hatred wherever and however it manifests. Lassman, herself a Holocaust survivor and a long-time community educator on the Holocaust, human rights, challenging hatred, and standing for others, received the inaugural award in 2009.

Since 1988, Partners with Families and Children: Spokane has provided collaborative, multi-disciplinary services to at-risk children in Spokane, bringing help, safety, justice and healing to troubled families. In 2010 alone, more than 2,000 children and families dealing with issues of poverty, abuse, neglect, mental illness, barriers to health care and exposure to drugs, violence and hate found hands-on assistance at Partners. The accredited, non-profit children’s advocacy center organizes a continuum of services, including specialized care for children who have suffered physical or sexual abuse, connections to services for families with multiple needs, legal advocacy for child victims of crime, and for all of Spokane’s children, prevention-focused collaborations, including the successful awareness-building initiative Our Kids: Our Business.

As founder and editor of The Fig Tree, an independent communications ministry, Mary Stamp has provided exceptional leadership to strengthen the Inland Northwest’s resilience against hatred. A 1967 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, Stamp founded The Fig Tree through the former Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries, initially to report on religion. The publication shifted its mission to cover faith in action and to connect the faith and nonprofit communities to build understanding that promotes common action and hope. Mary’s strong commitment to integrity and truth is reflected in the a courageous “peace and justice journalism” she practices. She was a devoted friend to Eva Lassman.

“We are honored to recognize this outstanding woman and this vital organization,” said Institute for Hate Studies Director John Shuford. “Our community depends upon organizations that work to prevent child abuse and address its underlying causes, and to provide support to mothers, fathers, and children for maintaining healthy families. It also depends upon media that brings attention to the corrosive effects of hatred, as well as success stories in combating and overcoming it.”

A recent Inland Northwest news story, about a young North Idaho woman whose father is a white supremacist, bears this out, Shuford said. For years, the young woman, along with her mother and sister, were isolated from the outside world and subjected to domestic violence and other abuse, including the father’s racist ranting about Aryan superiority. They finally escaped him, fleeing to a women’s shelter. Just a few years later, the young woman is now pursuing a master’s degree in psychology and wants to pursue a Ph.D. in psychopathy. It turns out that, for years, the father has suffered from Huntington’s disease.

“When I gathered myself emotionally after reading this story,” Shuford said, “it reinforced for me how fortunate our community is to have amazing organizations like Partners and The Fig Tree, and women in leadership of those organizations, who make tremendous positive impact. Health and hatred exist on a continuum. We need concerted community efforts and voices to support people toward health and away from hatred.”

Banquet attendees will also have opportunity to make a gift toward the establishment of an endowed Eva Lassman Memorial Scholarship at Gonzaga University. The scholarship will be given annually to a Gonzaga undergraduate student to work with the Institute on a one-year project that combines research, education, and leadership in continuance of Lassman’s legacy of “combating hatred, promoting tolerance and respect, and advancing peace and human rights.”

Lassman was a member of the Institute’s advisory board, and received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2002. She passed away in February 2011 just shy of her 92nd birthday.

“Eva Lassman was beloved throughout the Inland Northwest. She was part of this community for more than five decades, and she stood as both witness and advocate for human dignity, respect, and perseverance. For many of us, she was and remains ‘our own Elie Wiesel’,” said Shuford, alluding to the Nobel laureate political activist, educator, and author of five dozen books.

The Take Action Against Hate Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, October 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Globe Room, Cataldo Hall, on the Gonzaga University campus. Doors open at 5:45 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.; the formal program starts at 7 p.m.

Banquet ticket sales and group reservations are available now. Individual tickets begin at $50 and table pricing begins at $400. Institute membership pricing for individuals and organizations, and organization sponsorships for the Banquet are also available.

Founded in 1997 as the Institute for Action Against Hate, the Institute for Hate Studies advances the interdisciplinary field of Hate Studies and shares new theories, models, and discoveries about hate. Hate Studies consists of inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an “other,” and the processes that inform and give expression to, or can curtail, control, or combat, that capacity.

All proceeds from the Take Action Against Hate Banquet go to benefit the work of the Institute for Hate Studies. To buy tickets, reserve a table, or to become an Institute member or Banquet sponsor, visit For more information about the Banquet, call (509) 313-3665 or contact the Institute via e-mail at

Those who wish to contribute to the creation of an endowed Eva Lassman Memorial Scholarship should contact Dori Sonntag, Director of Development Operations at the Gonzaga Office of University Relations, at (509) 313-6149 or via e-mail at or visit

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