Moving Forward Together
Dear University of Maryland Community:
The hateful email from January 2014 has shaken our campus. I know many of you feel hurt and angry. The University’s investigation into the incident is continuing and due process will be completed before any final determinations are made. However, by mutual consent between the student involved, his family and the University, he will not return to campus this semester.
Today, President Loh, Chief Diversity Officer Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Assistant President Michele Eastman and I met with student leaders from the Student Government Association, Graduate Student Government, Black Student Union, Indian Students Association, Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, NAACP, Latino Student Union, Half the Sky Movement at UMD, Asian-American Student Union and the Multicultural Greek Council.
The focus of our discussion was how to move beyond the email, how our community, working together, can cultivate and maintain a healthy culture of respect, diversity, and equity. We agreed that the safety and well-being of our community is a collective responsibility. Several terrific ideas were suggested and we will follow up on all of them accordingly.
Several measures are already underway, including:
• Student groups are holding open forums to facilitate discussion on issues of safety, racism, sexual assault, consent and respect;
• Kappa Sigma has voluntarily pledged $500 to work with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, (ODI) on diversity programming throughout the Greek community;
• ODI will work with Kappa Sigma to determine mandatory diversity training;
• We will work to create a multicultural student advisory group, to advise President Loh on issues of diversity and inclusion;
• The Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life (DFSL) has applied for grant support to hire a Graduate Student to work specifically on diversity education with UMD chapters on a year-round basis;
• DFSL has also initiated mandatory training programs, effective beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, for all Greek chapters on: 1) sexual assault prevention; 2) multicultural competency; 3) drug/alcohol education; and 4) hazing prevention;
• DFSL is developing plans to create a social justice special project to assist chapters in developing quality multicultural competence programs.
• The SGA will host an open forum next Thursday, and President Loh and I will attend.
We applaud the NAACP, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council and other student groups for sponsoring open forums this week on issues of race and respect. Their efforts and the measures outlined above are essential for our campus community to rise above hate and bias. Together, they represent a very real first step in helping to maintain a culture of respect, equity and inclusion on our campus.
Our diversity is a great strength of our country and our university, and it should be celebrated. The discussion on this critical issue has begun. Now it’s up to all of us to keep it going.
Vice President for Student Affairs