SAN JOSE (KCBS)— With race relations taking the spotlight at San Jose State University and this week’s passing of Nelson Mandela, a former judge says his life and legacy can be applied to the recent alleged hate crimes on campus.

Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell is leading an independent review of a recent incident on campus, where four white freshmen are accused of racially abusing an African-American dorm mate.

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Cordell traveled to South Africa in 1988 for the country’s first human rights conference.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela because he was in prison. I did spend time with his lawyer who was a phenomenal man,” she said.

Cordell said Mandela’s leadership should be seen as an example at San Jose State as the University confronts intolerance on campus.

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“Leadership sets the tone. It can create an environment that says we are not going to put up with hateful kinds of conduct and we also want an environment that encourages people to be not only tolerant of each other, but to be very accepting of the differences that we all have,” Cordell said.

Cordell applauded University President Mohammad Quaomi’s decision to form an independent task force to investigate the possible hate crimes.

Cordell, who is also the city’s independent police auditor, has agreed to work pro-bono for the university to chair task force, which is expected to produce their final report on the incident by April of next year.

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