UMD prez 'offends' students by making sanctuary pledge in Spanish

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

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  • University of Maryland President Wallace Loh inadvertently outraged liberal students by using Spanish while pledging to protect illegal immigrant students, a move deemed “offensive” to UMD’s immigrant population.
  • Student Senator Ashley Vasquez demanded that he apologize, complaining that Spanish “does not represent the entire immigrant community here."
  • University of Maryland President Wallace Loh inadvertently outraged liberal students by using Spanish while pledging to protect illegal immigrant students, a move deemed “offensive” to UMD’s immigrant population.

    Much of Loh’s annual State of the Campus Address was a “a clear call to embrace diversity,” according to The Diamondback, including a promise to protect illegal immigrant students on campus by barring immigration officials from campus if they don’t have a warrant and refusing to voluntarily share undocumented student information.

    "As a student you want to know that your university stands by you and won't use language that sort of offends you."   

    [RELATED: ‘Sanctuary campus’ leaders admit that colleges can’t ban ICE]

    “These are the things that we will commit to, that we will do and will not do in order to create a safe and supportive learning environment," he declared.

    His repetition of the same statement in Spanish, however, raised eyebrows among some members of the crowd, even though he had employed a similar tactic in a campus-wide email last month in which he first outlined UMD’s intent to resist federal immigration enforcement efforts.

    Student Senator Ashley Vasquez, for instance, complained that Spanish “does not represent the entire immigrant community here" during a post-speech Q&A, asking Loh if he would like to apologize for repeating his promise in Spanish.

    Vasquez later told The Diamondback that she found Loh’s use of Spanish offensive because it implied that the only immigrants on campus are “Latinx.”

    [RELATED: ‘Latinx’ students demand larger safe space at UNC]

    Loh, who is Peruvian and a native Spanish speaker, did not initially address the question, but later responded to the accusations after a second student asked him to apologize, as well.

    "I simply said that I completely support—I said in Spanish what I previously said in English," Loh remarked with surprise. "Are you asking me to apologize because I'm speaking in Spanish, which is the first language I learned?"

    UMD senior Lauryn Froneberger apparently didn’t find Loh’s response sufficient, mainly because he did not concede that his use of Spanish was offensive.

    "As a student you want to know that your university stands by you and won't use language that sort of offends you," Froneberger said. "And even if you let them know they offended you, I think it's important to acknowledge that. I don't think he acknowledged that at all."

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey



    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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