Dear campus community,
Welcome back, Terps. I hope that the extended Thanksgiving break offered you the opportunity to spend time with friends and loved ones, and to rest, recharge and refresh.
Here at the University of Maryland, a group of campus leaders continued to work on plans to protect all members of our community. That means recommitting ourselves to providing an environment where students, faculty and staff can participate in their right to free expression, in an environment that is free from hate, bigotry and harassment. Learning cannot effectively coexist in a climate of fear.
This work is paramount to our mission. An estimated 15,000 Palestinian and Israeli lives have been lost since October 7. As these numbers rose, so did incidents of hate and bias across the country. The alarming international rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia at many college campuses, including our own, must be addressed head-on.
Let us be clear: The University condemns antisemitism, Islamophobia and hate in all forms. Full stop. Messages of hate have no place in our society, nor on a campus dedicated to the expansion of learning and understanding. Any member of our campus community who violates our Student Code of Conduct or other applicable policies will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, and the University of Maryland Police Department will fully investigate any hate-bias incidents that are deemed to be threatening in nature. Our condemnation and disciplinary and legal actions extend to anti-Arab hate, anti-Black racism and other forms of senseless hate. Acts of hate against one of us are acts of hate against all of us.
Here are some immediate next steps we are taking.
Increased Campus Safety MeasuresFor over a month, the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) has expanded their visible presence on campus, increased campus patrols and worked around the clock without nearly any leave or days off. And they are working with the Division of Information Technology to upgrade our key card access system. Their tireless work helps keep every member of our campus community safe.
Over the past two weeks, we have implemented several additional security measures. UMPD has reestablished ID checks between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. at campus entrances at Baltimore Avenue, Stadium Drive and Paint Branch Drive. All other gates will be closed during these hours (Mowatt Lane will remain open to buses only). Visitors will still be permitted on campus, but this additional measure will require all persons entering campus to provide a university ID or driver's license.
UMPD has also recently hired an additional 80 staff to its auxiliary police unit. These specially-trained students will augment the work of UMPD, including the monitoring of campus demonstrations and the staffing of the entrance gates.
Please join me in thanking Chief David Mitchell and every member of UMPD for their resolute commitment to the safety and well-being of the University of Maryland.
Joint Presidential-Senate Task Force on Antisemitism and IslamophobiaI am establishing a Joint Presidential and University Senate Task Force to provide guidance, recommendations and counsel on a strategy to confront antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus. Students, faculty and staff members of this Task Force will work closely with Provost Jennifer King Rice, Vice President Patty Perillo, Vice President Georgina Dodge and the University Senate.
This work is urgent, important and daunting, given the deep historical roots of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate. Public universities such as ours are ideal places for open intellectual discourse. We are a proud multicultural community, and it is my fervent hope that the collaborative work of this task force can help us force understanding and connection, united in our collective goal to eliminate hate.
We will be announcing the full membership of this task force in the coming days.
Interim Policy on ChalkingThe University of Maryland recognizes that the exchange of ideas and information is central to higher education's foremost obligation of fostering both intellectual development and the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. The University supports the rights of individual students, faculty, staff and student organizations to engage in the expression of ideas, provided such activities are lawful and consistent with University policies.
Working in collaboration with the University Senate Executive Committee, we are implementing an interim policy specific to chalking. We have established Hornbake Plaza and the sidewalk space outside of the southeast entry to Stamp Student Union as the only locations on campus where chalking is permitted. These areas will be dedicated places of free expression with the important provision that "Individuals shall not engage in unlawfully harassing, physically abusive, threatening or intimidating, or lewd or obscene conduct toward any person." Further, these designated chalking areas will be maintained and refreshed on a regular basis.
I would like to thank the University Senate Executive Committee for their support of this interim policy. A final policy — including a review of existing signage, leafleting and flyering practices — will be enacted upon official ratification by the full Senate.
Hate-Bias Reportingonline system. All incidents will be fully and promptly investigated. We are here to support you.The University of Maryland encourages prompt reporting of any incident of hate or bias. If you feel an immediate threat, please call UMPD at 301-405-3555 or dial 911. For all other incidents, please submit a report through our
Creating an Inclusive CommunityThe ideas of different members of the University community may often and quite naturally conflict. Individuals may find some ideas and opinions unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive. All students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate in the free expression of ideas at the University of Maryland. To encourage an open marketplace of ideas, we cannot allow hate or the incitement of violence towards any member of our community. Allowing hate to permeate our campus stifles academic freedom and education, inhibits empathy and understanding, and runs counter to our values of respect and inclusion.
We created our TerrapinSTRONG initiative to teach our campus values. TerrapinSTRONG emphasizes the importance of an environment where everyone can reach their full potential. Therefore, as another proactive measure, I have asked campus leaders to develop programs to address Islamophobia and antisemitism through educational resources that reinforce the inclusion and respect we observe as Terrapins.
Let us recommit ourselves to these principles, to stamp out hate in all its pernicious forms, and to create a better University of Maryland for all.