University of Maryland police investigating reports of racism, antisemitism in dorms
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Police at the University of Maryland are investigating a number of hate-related incidents towards members of the school's Black and Jewish communities.
UMD’s police department says they've received reports about three occurrences taking place inside the La Plata Residence Hall.
The first was on April 29, when a Residence Life employee reached out to police about racial slurs against the Black community being found inside the dorm.
That same day, around 1:45 p.m., additional slurs were discovered along with an antisemitic symbol.
Several days later, on May 2, someone scribbled a racial slur against the Black community on a chair in the lounge area.
Shortly after the incidents were reported and investigated, the university sent students an email addressing what took place in the residence hall.
One freshman, who does not want to be identified, lives right next to La Plata Hall. She says this isn’t surprising and unfortunately, it isn’t the first time she’s heard about racist acts taking place in the dorms.
"It’s kind of scary because you think UMD is a little more diverse than other PWI’s (Predominately White Institutions) so you think it will never happen to you or someone close to you, or even in your vicinity," she said.
In a statement from the University of Maryland, the school said it's "deeply concerned to learn of these actions, which have no place on our campus or in our community."
The statement also mentions, "Residents were invited to take part in floor meetings held later that week with representatives from UMD’s Bias Incident Support Services, Resident Life, and the UMD Police Department, to discuss their questions and concerns and receive support."
Solomon Comissiong, an adjunct faculty member and president of UMD’s Black Faculty and Staff Association, says this is infuriating, and the university needs to do more than hold meetings.
"I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired," Comissiong said. "We have been here before. There was a noose hung outside the building where my office is located about a decade ago. It was a huge story."
"There has to be open invitations with campus-wide forums that are inviting the community to give suggestions in terms of a pathway forward - to turn into policies that are clear and transparent and significant changes to policies on campus," Comissiong continued.
Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to contact UMPD at 301-405-3555.
Read the full statement from UMD below:
The University of Maryland is deeply concerned to learn of these actions, which have no place on our campus or in our community. We all share a responsibility in creating safe, welcoming, and inclusive places to live, work, and study, and acts of hate and bias are not acceptable.
Immediately after learning of these events, UMD’s Department of Resident Life reached out to students living in the impacted residence hall to ensure that members of the community were aware of the incidents and to offer support and assistance. Residents were invited to take part in floor meetings held later that week with representatives from UMD’s Bias Incident Support Services, Resident Life, and the UMD Police Department, to discuss their questions and concerns and receive support.
We urge all members of our community to help us create a welcoming and inclusive environment by taking action if they witness incidents by:
● Reporting crimes to University Police immediately by calling 301-405-3333.
● Confronting inappropriate behavior when you see it and when it is safe to do so.
● Speaking out against negative or hurtful acts.
● Monitoring your guests’ behavior whenever you invite a non-resident into your residence hall.
● Reporting incidents to Resident Life staff (i.e. to your Resident Assistant, CommuniAssistants at your 24-hour residence hall service desk, or your Resident Director) to gain assistance in managing problems or conflicts.
Resources are also available via the campus’ Bias Incident Support Services Office at https://diversity.umd.edu/bias/ and the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct at https://ocrsm.umd.edu/.