University Police are investigating a reported bias incident that occurred in La Plata Hall where offensive language directed at the LGBTQ+ community was written on two whiteboards.
The incident occurred on the second floor of the hall, between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. the Saturday before classes began, said UMPD public information officer Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas. Two students returned to their dorm and noticed offensive language on their whiteboard and similar language on a whiteboard outside of another bedroom, she said.
The students notified Resident Life, who in turn reported the incident to UMPD at about 11 p.m. on Sunday. Bias Incident Support Services was also notified of the incident and said in a statement they are available to provide support to any students who were affected. Resident Life is also acting as an active resource for the students.
“Bias incidents are hurtful and do not reflect our institutional values,” the university statement read. “We will continue our work to become a more welcoming and inclusive community so that every member of the community feels that they belong at the University of Maryland.”
Roughly 71 students live on the floor where the incident occurred, according to the statement. UMPD conducted interviews with residents in the vicinity to get more information.
Police have not confirmed whether or not the incident was targeted but are investigating, Hoaas told The Diamondback.
Hate bias incidents on whiteboards have a history on campus. Out of more than 50 hate bias incidents logged between January 2018 and October 2019, five were related to offensive language or symbols on whiteboards.
Sophomore business student Itamar Freund heard about the incident on his floor and found it disheartening, especially considering it wasn’t isolated, he said.
“[It] makes me think that it’s more than just somebody being stupid … which kind of sucks,” Freund said.
Andrea Eichstadt, another second-floor resident, said she was upset about the incident. The fact that it happened before school even started only exacerbated the issue, she said. It should never happen, she said, especially as students are just settling in.
“It’s very sad because it’s like, we just got here, we’re trying to make a good environment in this situation that we’re living in, especially with COVID, and something like that starts impacting everyone,” the freshman psychology major said.