UMD students outraged that school can’t ban hate symbols
University of Maryland students are in an uproar after the school rejected a campus-wide ban on hate symbols, telling students that a university campus “is not a home.”
“This is not a home,” Deputy General Counsel and Chief of Staff Diane Kresja remarked during a recent University Senate meeting, according to The Diamondback.
“If people are paying money to come to college because they want a home—where people think alike and everybody has the same political views, and the same social views on sexual orientation and transgender and whatever religion or whatever it is—they should stay at home,” she continued, prompting backlash among students, who started a hashtag of “UMDNotAHome” in response.
“Racism, homophobia, and transphobia are not political or social views. It’s f**king hate and it has no place on campus period,” one student tweeted.
Another student pointed out that a white student at the university was recently “indicted for a hate crime on this campus,” expressing outrage that the university staff was now “talking abt [sic] you can’t ban hate symbols.”
University Police Chief David Mitchell later attempted to clarify Kresja’s comments, noting that the mere expression of a hate symbol does not rise to the level of criminal misconduct and therefore cannot legally be banned on a public university campus.
“The hate crime statute in Maryland is predicated on crime occurrence, it begins with criminal misconduct,” he elaborated, saying that while he doesn’t “want to diminish the act,” the law “is such that [just] placing a noose…doesn’t rise to the level of criminal misconduct.”
This only served to outrage students further, however, with one tweeting that “UMD and its police won’t do anything until a crime has been committed, aka after humans have already been harmed or killed.”
University President Wallace Loh initially expressed confusion over Kresja’s statement, saying that he could not “speak to that.”
“In your own home, you can post anything you want. In a public place, it’s a different matter. Maybe that’s what she was referring to,” he pondered, though he later acknowledged that her comments were “absolutely correct,” saying, “You can talk to a hundred lawyers. A hundred lawyers will give you the same answer.”
University spokesperson Katie Lawson later released a statement, as well, attempting to offer clarity to both sides of the issue.
"Attorney Diane Krejsa's recent remarks were part of a complicated discussion about the tension between the constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech and the importance of creating a safe and inclusive campus environment," she told The Diamondback. "We are working tirelessly to be a welcoming and inclusive campus for all.”
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