The University of Maryland’s RHA passed one resolution Tuesday to address hate-bias incidents and tabled another that would foster more inclusion on campus.
The first resolution promises full support to Residence Hall Association for any initiatives or campaigns that work “to minimize and eliminate any hate-related incidents on campus,” according to the resolution document.
“This is something we need to write down to get rid of ambiguity,” said Ellion Trotman, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences. “If our whole job is looking after our residents and promoting equality. That’s what we’re doing right now.”
The resolution cited recent reports of hate-bias incidents that have taken place on this campus since September, including graffiti found in the North Campus Dining Hall men’s bathroom and a swastika in Hagerstown Hall.
University of Maryland Police identified and charged former university employee Ronald Alford, 52, of Hyattsville, with malicious destruction of property.
Police are currently investigating the three North Campus Dining Hall hate bias incidents, one of which included a swastika, that occurred in the bathrooms.
“When events like this happen, it puts pressure on the university to confront the issue,” said Pelumni Olufuwa, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences. “But when it subsides it’s swept under the carpet. We constructed this resolution to set a precedent for future councils so they know that it’s a problem.”
The resolution followed a Centreville Hall Council, where constituents voice concerns about the hate bias incidents to their senators, said RHA Vice President Tzvi Glazer.
The resolution also included a call for council members to speak with their constituents about the campus climate on diversity, according to the resolution document.
The vote was 41-0, with no abstentions.
The second resolution creates a Diversity and Inclusion Action Committee, according to the resolution document.
The ad hoc action committee would craft actions to promote diversity through RHA programming and policy and to “encourage a culture of inclusivity within residence halls,” according to the resolution document.
“Across the nation — and especially on campus — we’ve seen a lot of hate incidents and diversity-related issues,” said Bryan Gallion, junior journalism major and chief information officer. “People on campus should feel comfortable where they live. They shouldn’t have to worry about their neighbor not respecting their identity.”
The committee would deliver a presentation of its actions and discussions at each RHA Senate meeting, as well as an end-of-year report.
Aaron Hood, Department of Resident Life’s student leadership programs coordinator would advise the committee, as well as an undetermined second university official.
The Senate motioned to table the resolution after multiple senators raised concerns about how the RHA would choose the second university official and what the application process for senators to join the committee would look like.
The committee would create a way to establish concrete solutions to these issues, Gallion said.
“When we see a need we respond to it,” Glazer said. “There are always some technicalities to work out. Tabling is not rejection.”
The authors of the resolution will resubmit it at a later date once Senate concerns are addressed. The RHA has also passed a resolution 40-0, with no abstentions, which named the UMD Campus Pantry as the beneficiary of the 2017 Dining Dollar Donation Drive, a collaboration between RHA and Dining Services that holds a drive each semester for a local charity.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story stated that the Residence Hall Association passed a resolution 32-2, with no abstentions, to name the UMD Campus Pantry as the beneficiary of the 2017 Dining Dollar Donation Drive. The vote was 40-0, with no abstentions. This story has been updated.