The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land must do more about hate crimes in the wake of a slay­ing on its cam­pus.

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY MARIAM HARIS The writer re­ceived a master’s de­gree from the Mary­land School of Pub­lic Pol­icy at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land.

In earn­ing my master’s de­gree in pub­lic pol­icy, I learned many im­por­tant lessons — the most im­por­tant be­ing to speak up, loudly and clearly, when I dis­agree with some­thing and to of­fer op­tions and so­lu­tions.

Last week­end, I ex­pected to cel­e­brate with my co­hort as we all wrapped up our grad­u­ate pro­grams at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land. In­stead of en­joy­ing this week­end, I woke early Sun­day morn­ing to emer­gency emails re­gard­ing a “homi­cide” on cam­pus.

I learned that this was not just a homi­cide, but maybe a hate crime. A mod­ern lynch­ing.

Why in the year 2017 are we se­ri­ously dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of the lynch­ing of a black man on the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land’s cam­pus the week­end of grad­u­a­tion?

Sec­ond Lt. Richard W. Collins III, a se­nior at Bowie State Uni­ver­sity, was set to grad­u­ate this past Tues­day. He was a role model: a hard­work­ing student, ded­i­cated son, car­ing brother and an ac­tive mem­ber of his church. He as­pired to be a gen­eral in the Army and to serve our coun­try. In­stead, he was stabbed to death, per­haps just be­cause of the color of his skin.

The uni­ver­sity’s re­sponse un­til Wed­nes­day was ba­si­cally lim­ited to a mo­ment of si­lence at grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies. This is not enough. By not tak­ing de­ci­sive ac­tion against it, we — the mem­bers of the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land com­mu­nity — are tac­itly con­don­ing this hor­rific crime.

This crime may be shock­ing to many, but it isn’t to stu­dents and fac­ulty. We have grown ac­cus­tomed to hate speech and threats on cam­pus go­ing un­pun­ished. From the Kappa Sigma email de­ba­cle, in which a fra­ter­nity mem­ber used racial ep­i­thets (hate speech) to de­scribe peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races and con­done rape, to the dis­play near McKeldin Mall of white su­prem­a­cist posters that eerily re­sem­bled Nazi pro­pa­ganda, to a noose found at the Phi Kappa Tau fra­ter­nity house, the re­sponse from the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been neg­li­gent.

A mo­ment of si­lence does not make us (peo­ple of color; re­li­gious mi­nori­ties; les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple; the dis­abled; and oth­ers) feel as if we are safe on this cam­pus. Send­ing mes­sages that these things will not be tol­er­ated but then do­ing noth­ing to com­bat such hate does not in­still con­fi­dence in stu­dents. These short-term, “sweep it un­der the rug” re­sponses have failed us.

This is an old, re­cur­ring prob­lem we face on our cam­pus and across this coun­try. The num­ber of hate groups has soared in re­cent years.

Only this week, af­ter a sense­less death, did Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Pres­i­dent Wal­lace D. Loh of­fer changes to ad­dress the is­sue.

He has asked the Of­fice of Diver­sity and In­clu­sion for a rapid-re­sponse team for hate crimes and said he would al­lo­cate $100,000 for diver­sity and in­clu­sion ef­forts. Other ef­forts in­clude an­nual re­ports on hate crimes, and the cre­ation of a hate crimes and cam­pus safety task force.

The rad­i­cal­iza­tion that en­cour­ages peo­ple to pur­sue their goals through vi­o­lence has gone far enough. I call on Loh to also pun­ish those who have com­mit­ted crimes, es­pe­cially hate crimes, and to aid in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of those who may be at risk of do­ing so. These mea­sures can be pre­ven­tive as well as puni­tive and re­ac­tive.

I also re­quest that we make use of the diver­sity tools we have at our dis­posal and in­cor­po­rate them fur­ther into the cur­ricu­lums for un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents. Diver­sity ini­tia­tives should be fully in­te­grated within our cur­ricu­lums and within the cul­ture of this in­sti­tu­tion.

The themes of diver­sity, in­clu­sion and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism must be con­sis­tently taught.

Be­cause these hor­rific events have oc­curred on our cam­pus, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to learn from this as we move for­ward for a bet­ter and more ac­cept­ing world. This is the time that we need de­ci­sive ac­tion in the form of pol­icy change and en­force­ment.


Dar­rin Branch ad­justs a pho­to­graph of Richard W. Collins III, cen­ter, stand­ing with his par­ents, at a memo­rial ser­vice for Collins in Bowie on May 22. Collins was stabbed to death while vis­it­ing the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land.

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