University of Maryland Police have received four reports of hate bias incidents since election day, all of which took place either on or near the campus, University Police spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas said.
On Nov. 10, a student notified a McKeldin Library employee of a racist statement etched into a desk on the building’s fourth floor, prompting the employee to contact police, Hoaas said.
A second incident was reported on Nov. 11 at 3:33 p.m., and took place the previous day between 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m., Hoaas said. A university employee said someone made a racist remark toward them in the Route 1 and College Avenue area.
On Nov. 11 at 6:41 p.m., a victim with no affiliation to this university reported that someone had made a racist statement toward them the previous day at about 7 p.m. near the Architecture Building, Hoaas said.
A student also reported on Nov. 22 that a racist statement was etched into a bathroom stall divider in the Computer Science Instructional Center, Hoaas said.
Police are actively investigating these incidents, Hoaas said, but due to their sensitive nature, she could not specify the language of the etchings or verbal statements.
No suspects have been identified in any of these cases, and it is unclear how long the written statements were there before they were reported, which has hindered UMPD’s investigation, she said.
“When we don’t know when the incident occurred, that does add a component to it; when we do, we can look at cameras in the area,” she said. “When we have a timeline, that does help us out a lot.”
University Police have worked closely with the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to monitor these incidents, she said. In a Nov. 17 email to the university student body, Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct Director Catherine Carroll and Chief Diversity Officer Kumea Shorter-Gooden noted a “reported increase in bias incidents and discriminatory conduct.”
“That’s based on University of Maryland Police’s statement about their tracking of incidents over time,” Shorter-Gooden said in an interview with the Diamondback. “Three in a week is high for us.”
Shorter-Gooden said that no reports of hate crimes or bias incidents were reported directly to her department or to Carroll. However, she said she is cognizant of a “deep concern” from many students about how President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in January could affect the campus climate.
“[We] heard from many students during the protest,” Shorter-Gooden said regarding a protest that occurred on McKeldin Mall the day after the election. “Students from vulnerable populations such as those who are undocumented, those who are covered by DACA and Muslim students.”
In response to the concerns of these students and the reported increase in hate-bias incidents on the campus, Shorter-Gooden said she hopes to better promote and bolster resources that are already available to students, like the MICA office and the LGBT Equity Center, in addition to implementing new services.
This could include an immigration attorney, available through both Graduate and Undergraduate Student Legal Aid Offices, who would come monthly to work with undocumented students, she said. Shorter-Gooden also said she continues to search for ways to promote a student dialogue surrounding issues that have emerged since the election.
Regarding campus hate bias incidents, she said she hopes the worst is over.
“We’re not immune to societal racism, homophobia, nativism and islamophobia, so I’m not shocked that there have been some incidents on campus, and it is deeply disturbing,” she said. “But it just tells me we need to redouble our efforts to enhance the awareness of our students, staff and faculty, to create opportunities for people to connect across differences and reinforce that this is a campus where everyone is welcome.”