Students ask UMD to ‘expand the consequences of hate speech’
Students at the University of Maryland have drafted a petition demanding that the school ramp up punishments for “hate speech” in the wake of a tragedy on campus.
The Black Student Union published “Honor Richard Collins III and punish hate speech at University of Maryland” after a Black student from Bowie State University, Richard Collins III, was killed by a white UMD student, Sean Urbanski, who was a member of an “Alt-Reich” group on Facebook.
"Loh has continuously reinforced an environment that tolerates hate speech by...encouraging more discourse."
The BSU writes that the lack of consequences for hate speech has emboldened students like Urbanski, arguing that “When consequences for hate speech are not strong it tells students like Sean Urbanski that hate and bigotry is okay!” and that the lack of consequences “makes white supremacist students comfortable on campus.”
While the role that hate speech played in motivating Urbanski to kill another student remains unclear, the BSU believes that preventing hate speech on campus is one of the best ways to prevent something like this from happening again.
“University of Maryland administration must expand the consequences for hate speech and make the Code of Student conduct in regard to hate speech less vague,” they insist.
While UMD President Wallace Loh responded swiftly to the tragedy, promising an additional $100,000 to support diversity and the creation of a rapid-response bias team, the BSU nonetheless criticized his response as inadequate.
“While University President Wallace Loh has expressed his condolences and sadness over the murder of Richard Collins III it is not enough!,” the group declares, alleging that Loh has been complicit in creating an environment that allows hate to fester on campus.
“President Loh has continuously reinforced an environment that tolerates hate speech by reducing student organizing efforts and instead encouraging more discourse,” they contend. “Not all situations require more discourse, some call for action! It's time for Loh to recognize that.”
They also accuse Loh of implementing policies that only work towards the benefit of white students, saying, “We need a president that supports diversity, acknowledges threats, and implements preventive policies that cultivate a safe and secure environment for all students on campus—not just white ones.”
Citing the discovery of a noose on campus ten years ago, and a party last year that involved “mostly Black students” that needed to be broken up by the police with pepper spray, the BSU also argued that “racism is not out of the ordinary for UMD’s campus.”
“Join us in demanding that the UMD administration increase the punishment for students engaging in hate speech and make the student code of conduct in regards to hate speech more explicit,” the petition concludes.
At press time, the petition had garnered nearly 53,000 signatures, out of a goal of 75,000.
Neither the Black Student Union nor the University of Maryland responded to requests for comment from Campus Reform.
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