By Jessie Campisi and Christine Condon
Senior staff writers
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh announced a new set of campus initiatives Tuesday morning in response to violence that has shaken the campus and the nation in recent months.
On May 24, Loh announced his plans to convene a task force on diversity in response to the killing of 23-year-old Bowie State University student Richard Collins on this university’s campus. In Tuesday’s announcement, he named its chairs and announced that its work will be completed by March 30.
The task force will be co-chaired by Lucy Dalglish, dean of the journalism college, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Warren Kelley and Ja’Nya Banks, the Student Government Association’s diversity and inclusion director.
The 18-member task force, dubbed the President’s and University Senate’s Joint Task Force on Inclusion and Respect, will review relevant policies, including the Code of Student Conduct, “with the goal of shaping culture that is more inclusive and respectful of all persons,” Loh wrote. It will include faculty, staff, alumni, and undergraduate and graduate students.
The task force will examine the First Amendment and consider the difference between free speech and hate speech on the campus. It will also review courses and training on cultural competency, the statement read.
Sean Urbanski, a then student at this university, was indicted on a murder charge in Collins’ death in July. Collins was black, and Urbanski — who was part of a racist Facebook group — is white. University Police and the FBI are investigating the incident as a potential hate crime, though Urbanski has not yet been indicted on hate crime charges.
Loh will begin the process for “elevating” the chief diversity officer position to the vice president of diversity and inclusion, the statement read. Chief Diversity Officer Roger Worthington — a former chair of the counseling, higher education and special education department — was selected for the position earlier this summer.
Worthington will be in charge of establishing a rapid response team to assist hate crime and hate bias incident victims on the campus, and he will conduct “periodic campus climate surveys.”
This university’s Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, which made headlines last year after its director, Catherine Carroll, called it “under-resourced” and “under-staffed,” will be responsible for collecting and publishing information on hate bias incidents on the campus.
The office, which received four additional staffers after the controversy in 2016, already publishes an annual report on sexual assault investigations on the campus.
Loh also announced that University Police have installed additional security cameras in areas where racist posters were discovered last academic year. The white nationalist posters bore the names and slogans of groups such as Identity Evropa and Vanguard America.
The Athletics Council — made up of students, faculty and staff — has also recommended to add swastikas and nooses to the existing list of prohibited symbols, along with sanctions for violations, Loh wrote.
Loh also announced that he has asked the relevant University Senate committee to consider “extending a similar ban on the iconography of terror and hate to all other venues on campus.”
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will work with the Anti-Defamation League and launch the UMD Center on Diversity and Higher Education, a think tank tasked finding best practices, Loh’s statement read. The office will also work to review other campus bodies to assess their diversity strengths and weaknesses.
Following Collins’ death, Loh released an immediate action plan to combat hate incidents at this university. His campuswide statement called for the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct to develop an annual report on all hate bias incidents at this university. He also tasked the athletic department with strengthening existing Intercollegiate Athletics policy.
“Across our large and decentralized University, there are actions already underway … yet no administrative office, or new initiative, will improve our campus climate without every member of our community playing a part,” Loh wrote. “We all need to ask what we can do each day to stand for our values.”
In the weeks before the start of the fall semester, Loh also announced the campus would hold a moment of reflection on Aug. 30 in Collins’ honor.
“This moment signals a campus-wide, on-going process of reflection, dialogue and action to reaffirm our University’s core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civil discourse,” Loh wrote. “We must redouble our efforts to respond, recover and heal.”
In the statement, Loh also denounced “the resurgence of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and their sulfurous rallies” as “an assault on our nation’s most cherished ideals,” referencing events such as a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month that turned violent, killing one and injuring 19 others.
“After all these years, we know that ours is an imperfect union, but we still strive to realize the vision of a nation that is truly ‘just’ and ‘free’ for all,” Loh wrote. “My optimism for the future is rooted in the conviction that America, and UMD, are works in progress. Both have come a long way. Both have a long way to go. But I believe there is no other nation, and no other university, that holds greater promise.”