Inclusion and Respect at the University of Maryland

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The University has adopted the following Values Statement and Statement on Free Speech Values. A joint effort between the President's Office and University Senate, the statements were developed by faculty, staff and students as part of the Joint President/Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force in spring 2018.

Values Statement

The University of Maryland (UMD) is a community of individuals living and working together to support and advance the educational and research mission of the institution. We aspire to become a community that is: United, Respectful, Secure and Safe, Inclusive, Accountable, and Empowered and Open to Growth. 

We are diverse but have much in common. Members of the UMD community foster a sense of belonging based on acceptance and a unity of purpose. We strive toward overlapping goals, sharing resources, and spending some of the most significant and productive times of our lives together in a common space. To that extent we depend on one another and are our best selves when we support one another. Accordingly, our actions are guided not only by what is good for self but also by what is good for all. 

Members of the UMD community interact with others in ways that promote feelings of respect. All members of the UMD community are valued equally and deserving of respect without regard to their status, their educational attainment or their social position. We reject denigration of any member through words or actions and resist stereotyping of members that undermines personal dignity though slurs, slights, insults or other acts that disparage individuals or groups. 

Secure and Safe
Members of the UMD community refrain from injustice, violence, harassment, intimidation, and aggression. We do all that is possible to protect and defend members of the UMD community from anyone who would harm them physically or psychologically. We promote individual agency and responsibility in contributing to personal safety, avoidance of harm and staving off the effects of insults, slander, intimidation, or symbolic intimation of violence. 

The UMD community strives to achieve the highest levels of excellence in our work and our studies that accrue through inclusive practices. We recognize that as a thriving and striving community, the success of our institution and our members is dependent on how well we value, include, and engage all members. This belief must be actively and consistently embedded in every aspect and practice of the UMD community. 

All members of the UMD community are equally responsible and committed to uphold the University’s values to the best of their ability, as well as hold the rest of the UMD community to those responsibilities. We must be transparent in our mistakes, and learn to reflect and continue to strive toward inclusive excellence. 

Empowered and Open to Growth 
Members of the UMD community embrace learning as essential for bettering ourselves as individuals and as a community. We encourage and assist one another to become our best selves.

Statement on Free Speech Values

The primary purpose of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge through teaching, research, and service. To fulfill these functions, a free exchange of ideas is necessary not only within its walls but with the world beyond. The history of intellectual discovery and growth clearly demonstrates the need for freedom; the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. Whenever someone is deprived of the right to state unmentionable views, others are necessarily deprived of the right to listen to and evaluate those views. Few institutions in our society have this same central purpose. It follows that a university must protect and guarantee intellectual and academic freedom. To do so it must promote an environment in which any and all ideas are presented. Through open exchange, vigorous debate, and rational discernment, the campus community can evaluate ideas.

Every member of the campus community has an obligation to support the right of free expression at the university, and to refrain from actions that reduce intellectual discussion. No member shall prevent such expression, which is protected under the constitutions of the United States and the State of Maryland.

The University does not have a speech code. History shows that marginalized communities have successfully promoted their interests because of the right to express their views. In fact, marginalized communities have been silenced by speech codes and other regulations against “offensive” speech.

In addition to the obligation to promote and protect free expression, individuals assume further responsibilities as members of the university. The campus expects each individual community member to consider the harm that may result from the use of slurs or disparaging epithets intended to malign, for example, another’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or physical or mental disability. While legal protections for free expression may sometimes supersede the values of civility and mutual respect, members of the university community should weigh these values carefully in exercising their fundamental right to free expression.

The University values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and freedom of expression, all of which must be sustained in a community of scholars. While these freedoms protect controversial ideas and differing views, and sometimes offensive and hurtful words and symbols, they do not protect conduct that violates criminal law or university policy.

Senate Bill #17-18-03​