After an increase in hate bias incidents, UMD announces new response protocol
The University of Maryland announced on Monday it will hire a hate bias response coordinator and issued new policies for addressing hate bias incidents.
The coordinator will meet with individuals affected by hate bias incidents as requested and work with a hate bias response team to develop action plans for these incidents. The position will be posted Monday, said Chief Diversity Officer Roger Worthington.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will also maintain a webpage with a hate bias incident log updated as incidents happen, according to the new protocol. Individuals who opt in will be able to receive email updates about such incidents that have occurred on the campus.
The procedure released Monday spells out how the three university entities tasked with responding to hate bias incidents — the ODI, the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and University Police — will communicate.
Individuals can report campus hate bias incidents to University Police or the Title IX Office. According to the new protocol, the entity that receives the report must acknowledge its receipt within 48 hours and inform the ODI’s new hate bias coordinator. Affected individuals are to be referred to ODI for support and guidance, and Worthington said they can meet with the hate bias coordinator if they wish.
The protocol codifies operations that have already been in the works, Worthington said.
“What we’ve done with this is to increase the clarity with which the offices have already been operating,” Worthington said. “So it’s just making clear what is already in existence and trying to refine or to increase the coordination that takes place.”
University Police spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas wrote in an email that “the protocol doesn’t change how UMPD handles reports of hate bias incidents.”
The announcement also addresses a national trend of increasing hate bias incidents, Worthington said.
“That goes to a larger context in the United States right now where it seems like there’s a renewed vigor with which hate groups are targeting higher education institutions,” he said.
Catherine Carroll, the Title IX Office director, said in a statement that her office approved of the announcement.
“OCRSM is supportive of the new protocols and looks forward to participating in a coordinated response to hate bias incidents on our campus,” she said in a statement emailed by university spokeswoman Jessica Jennings.
The hate bias response team is currently in formation, Worthington said, and will include representatives from the ODI, the Title IX Office, University Police, the Counseling Center, the Health Center and the University of Maryland Chaplains, among others. Worthington said the hate bias coordinator will represent the ODI, and he has reached out to the other five entities to determine their representatives.
The response team was announced alongside the President and University Senate’s Joint Task Force on Inclusion and Respect after the killing of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins, a black Bowie State University student, on this university’s campus in May. Sean Urbanski, a white former student of this university, has been charged with a hate crime, as well as first- and second-degree murder, in the killing.
The task force’s subcommittee on hate bias will review the protocol and make recommendations on any changes it thinks should occur. It’s part of a “continuous improvement model” that will solicit input on policy, Worthington said.
“The University of Maryland is looking to be a leader in how we address these kinds of things [hate bias incidents] on our campus in particular,” Worthington said. “My suspicion is that as we move through the approach … we will most likely have other campuses who will look at our approach, learn from it, and adopt or adapt the approach that we’re using on their own campuses.”
University students had previously raised concerns about administrative transparency on hate bias.
At a Nov. 16 meeting of the ODI and the Student Leadership Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, students revealed a two-week-old incident, in which a Confederate flag had been etched into a bathroom stall in Somerset Hall.
“I would hope to see more transparency in the situations with hate speech on campus and I would like to see more of an understanding that people should know what’s happening and it’s not just something the university is trying to contain to cover their asses,” Zach Caplan, a freshman government and politics major who lives in Somerset, said at the meeting.
This semester, this university has seen several hate bias incidents.
A swastika was found on a balcony railing in the plant sciences building on Sept. 13. University Police also charged a former university employee with malicious destruction of property after a swastika was found spray-painted on a campus trash cart on Sept. 27.
Three incidents involving offensive language and/or drawings — one including a swastika — were reported in the men’s bathroom of the North Campus Dining Hall between Sept. 28 and Oct. 9.
During the 2016-17 academic year, a noose was found in a fraternity house, and there were five reported instances of white nationalist posters on the campus.
Police said in August there was a person of interest in the noose incident, but there have been no updates since.
Some students said they’d like to receive email notification about such incidents.
“It’s really important to know, especially since we’re on campus,” said Alexis Ros, a junior accounting and international business major. “Like kind of how we get the emails from the police department, we should get emails about [hate bias incidents] too.”