University of Maryland President Wallace Loh signed recommendations made by the campus diversity task force, according to a Thursday news release.
The recommendations include a policy prohibiting “threatening or intimidating acts motivated in whole or in part because of an individual or group’s actual or perceived protected status,” as well as the adoption of university values statements affirming unity and the protection of free speech, while encouraging community members to “consider the harm that may result from the use of slurs or disparaging epithets.”
The Joint President and University Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force, which was formed following the fatal stabbing of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins on this university’s campus last May, released its recommendations on April 17. They were approved by the University Senate on April 24.
Recommendations also included conducting campus climate surveys every two years. The first comprehensive version of such a survey was opened in late January, and a preliminary analysis of survey results was released Thursday. The survey indicated concerns with the university’s response to hate bias incidents, as well as lower feelings of safety and belonging among minority students.
“We can and will make our campus more inclusive and respectful of every person’s human dignity,” Loh said in the release. “The job of implementing the recommendations of the Joint Task Force belongs to all of us.”
Loh also approved developing a prevention and education initiative regarding diversity, inclusion and respect, as well as a timely and sensitive communication strategy; both were among the list of task force recommendations.
The president’s office has tasked campus leadership “to begin working on the recommendations immediately,” according to the release.
Last semester, there were 27 reported hate bias incidents at this university — 15 of which were verified by administration — including several instances of swastikas drawn in public places. So far this semester, there have been three reported incidents. Most recently, in late April, students reported a racial slur shouted outside of South Campus Commons. University Police are currently investigating the incident.
The task force held two open forums to assess the opinions of the campus community, at which individuals shared concerns about the group’s ability to alter the campus climate.
The 18-member task force, which included students, faculty and staff, was split into five working groups. Each group handled a different area of concern: climate, free speech and hate speech, policies and procedures, prevention and education and hate bias response.
The university also noted in a campuswide email that Chief Diversity Officer Roger Worthington has assembled an external team made up of diversity and inclusion authorities to recommend improvements. Its report will be submitted this summer, the email read.