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Message from the Chief Diversity Officer

Dear Campus Community,

As we reach the end of the semester, I want to provide an update on the work we have been doing to create an inclusive, safe and welcoming campus. There are many challenges ahead of us and we are working on these issues from every angle:

  • safety and security;
  • outreach and support;
  • prevention and training;
  • teaching and curriculum;
  • community engagement;
  • equity and compliance;
  • infrastructure and resources;
  • policies and procedures; and
  • transparency and accountability.

These are university-wide efforts that require collaborative partnerships, working together toward common ground and the greater good. In the context of the current national climate and the challenges we face in terms of hate, bias, inequities and discrimination, it is imperative that we work together toward unity, respect and inclusion.

Trainings, Policies, and Administration

In partnership with President Loh and Provost Rankin, we have asked senior administrators (vice presidents, associate provosts, deans, department chairs and directors) to participate in workshops offered by the Anti-Defamation League designed to equip them with awareness and capabilities to effectively deal with hate and bias on our campus.

President Loh has announced his commitment to restructure the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), committing additional resources for making the office central to the operations of the university and to raise and enhance its impact and visibility.


Student Engagement, Hate-Bias Response Team, and Survey

As CDO, I have established a UMD Student Leadership Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. A group of student leaders met with me in November for the first time to focus on ideas for specific, student-led initiatives that will benefit our campus. The central focus of our initial strategic action planning session included discussion on four major themes: (1) enhanced cultural competencies training for faculty, staff and students; (2) improving hate-bias reporting and responses on campus; (3) improvements of cultural spaces for students; and (4) the need for increased faculty diversity on campus. Additional meetings of this group will be scheduled in the spring.

In November, we announced a new protocol for responding to hate-bias incidents on our campus. The University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) and the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM) will take reports of hate-bias incidents and conduct investigations. In partnership with UMPD, OCRSM and others, ODI will also form a specially-trained, rapid response team for hate-bias incidents to focus on prevention, training, education, support and response when such incidents are reported in our community. The work of the rapid response team will be facilitated by the hate-bias response coordinator (a newly created position in ODI). To increase transparency and awareness, we are collecting and reporting information about reported hate-bias incidents on campus.

Supporting and building upon the work of the Thriving Workplace Initiative, ODI is also working with an outside consultant, Dr. Jennifer Hubbard, who is planning a university-wide study to evaluate issues of equity, inclusion and diversity in greater detail. The UMD Campus Climate Study will launch after the spring semester begins in January. Findings from the study will result in specific recommendations for how the campus climate for equity, diversity and inclusion can be improved at UMD and will inform the work of the Joint Task Force.

The Joint President/Senate Task Force on Inclusion & Respect

The Joint Task Force was appointed and charged in August and has been meeting throughout the fall semester to tackle issues related to five central topics: (1) Hate-Bias; (2) Campus Climate Issues; (2) Hate Speech and Free Speech; (4) Policies and Procedures; (5) Education and Training. Each subcommittee of the task force has held forums and engaged students, faculty and staff to obtain their feedback on recommendations for improving these critical aspects of our campus.

Education Requirements and Raising Awareness

The Provost's leadership team is working with the appropriate Senate committee to review the general education requirement on diversity and cultural competence to assess the need for improvements. ODI is also working with Dr. Kim Nickerson (BSOS) to develop Black History and the University of Maryland: A Campus Landmark Walking Tour, which will help raise awareness about our complicated and difficult racial history as an institution.

Safety

We continue to prioritize safety for all members of our community. According to a recent letter Chief Mitchell wrote to the campus community, UMPD completed a Fair and Impartial Policing training for all sworn officers earlier this year. To enhance security, UMPD has added approximately 20 new cameras to the more than 400 already monitoring our campus and community 24 hours a day.

Our values seek to promote an inclusive campus that reflects equity, nondiscrimination and respect in ways that are incompatible with hate and bias enacted toward members of our community through acts of harassment or intimidation. We are seeking a response from our entire community that will help us communicate those values on our campus and to the world.

There is no place for hate and bias acts on our campus. Period. It is impossible to guarantee that such incidents will never take place, but we can take critical steps toward prevention.

Every department and person across the UMD campus plays a role to help underscore the deep commitment to safety and inclusion that we share as a community. Thank you to all faculty, staff, students and alumni who are working toward a campus that embraces our core values of unity and respect. Our work continues.

On behalf of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I wish you a safe and peaceful winter break.

Sincerely,

Roger L. Worthington
Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Associate Provost

Professor, Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education