The University of Maryland Police Department is investigating a hate bias incident report at La Plata Hall where racial slurs against the Black community were found written in multiple locations.
Police responded to La Plata Hall at 9:18 a.m. on April 29 after a Department of Resident Life staff member found a racial slur against the Black community on the eighth floor, according to Lt. Rosanne Hoaas.
Police then responded to La Plata Hall again at 1:41 p.m. on the same day after staff found additional racial slurs on the eighth and ninth floors, according to Hoaas.
Resident Life staff also found an antisemitic symbol written in La Plata Hall, according to Hoaas.
Resident Life sent a letter to La Plata residents the next day notifying them of the incident.
“Incidents such as these have the potential to hurt all of us in the community,” the letter to students read. “As students living in the residence halls, each of you deserves respect and to know and feel you belong and have a rightful place in our community.”
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Later that week, representatives from this university’s Bias Incident Support Services, Resident Life and UMPD invited La Plata Hall residents to floor meetings where they could receive support, according to Resident Life.
The police responded to La Plata Hall a third time on May 2 after another racial slur against the Black community was found written on a ninth floor lounge chair.
Resident Life sent another letter to ninth floor La Plata Hall residents after this incident, encouraging them to report suspicious activity to the police and use the resources that the university offers.
These incidents are among several other anti-Black racism incidents that have recently been reported to the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. From February to April, anti-Black racism was the most-reported type of incident.
There were 10 reports in April and 13 reports in March related to racial slurs or harmful interactions against the Black community, according to the diversity and inclusion office.
This has also not been the first hate bias incident reported in La Plata Hall. In September 2021, university police responded to La Plata Hall after offensive language directed at the LGBTQ+ community was found on two whiteboards.
This university’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops hosted a town hall on Tuesday to address these hate bias incidents.
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Resident Life director Dennis Passarella-George attended the town hall and expressed his concern about the incident.
“There is absolutely no place for hate in our residence halls or on our campus,” Passarella-George wrote in a campus-wide email on Thursday. “You have the right to live, learn, and work in an environment free from harassment, discrimination, hate, and bias.”
Junior immersive media design major Grace Orellana, who helped organize the USAS town hall, said that the university should provide more transparency from the beginning about incidents like these.
“It makes me feel upset, disappointed that we had to create such a fuss for this to even start to be addressed,” Orellana said. “It kind of makes me question my safety here on campus.”
Orellana said the university should give more training to resident assistants and students who are directly affected by hate bias incidents. Students should also receive solid support through measures like Resident Life or university-led safe group spaces and town halls after a hate bias incident occurs, she said.
“Although yes, counseling sessions are available, not everyone is trusting of the counseling center and not all counselors look like the students being affected by these incidents,” Orellana said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that Lt. Hoaas confirmed a racial slur was found written on a mirror. This story has been updated.