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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Campus Climate Message and Resources

Dear UMD community members,

This message goes out to you as a follow-up to Chancellor Black's message a couple weeks ago. We would like to reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive campus community that is willing to pursue difficult conversations and be home to challenging dialogues. We must do so with respect, with a goal to understand one another, and, finally, to move beyond stereotypes and overgeneralizations and to a deeper understanding and sharing of ideas.  UMD stands firmly against intolerance and acts of hate and we think it is important to update members of the UMD community on actions and resources.

A number of activities have taken place following the recent national election.

  • On Wednesday, November 9, Student Life provided spaces in the Multicultural Center and in Housing and Residence Life for students to gather safely and process their reactions to the elections. Student Life staff were on hand to talk with students and offer support. In addition, several additional rooms were reserved in the event that students needed to talk individually with staff. A counselor in Health Services cleared the day so that walk-in appointments were available. Many students spent time in the Student Life spaces, with H&RL reporting that students from across the political spectrum participated in an active and meaningful way.
  • On Thursday, November 10, Chancellor Black sent a campus-wide message about the election results.  He shared his continued concern about the hateful, hurtful, and disrespectful dialogue that will not be tolerated at UMD.  
  • On Monday, November 14, a Speak Out event was held in the Kirby Lounge. Students from many different student organizations and groups took turns sharing stories, music, poetry, and expressing strong support for one another. In addition, resource tables were set up, with representatives from the H&RL, UMDPD, Student Conduct, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity (CERE) participating. Speak Out participants were invited to sign a pledge for supporting a positive climate. That program will be the first in a series of Speak Out events.
  • On Wednesday, November 16, a meeting was held with international students to discuss their thoughts and concerns in relation to immigration policies and other issues such as reporting and safety.
There have been reports of incidents on or near campus since the election, and none of these incidents have been directly reported to the UMDPD, Student Conduct, or HR&EO. Faculty and staff are providing support. We continue to encourage students, faculty and staff to come forward and report. For those not sure how to report or seek other support resources, we suggest the following:
  • UMDPD - Call 911 to report an incident
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Office of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity
In addition, there are a number of options for support for students, faculty and staff
  • Counseling Services (Health Services) - students
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion

UMD is committed to equity, diversity, and social justice. UMD's values, mission, vision, and goals describe this commitment. As part of the commitment to equity, diversity, and social justice, UMD stands firmly against intolerance and acts of hate from those who work to undermine our goal of creating "a positive and inclusive campus climate for all." We encourage you to visit our Campus Climate website, if you are so inclined, to sign the pledge.

UMD is a great community of learners and scholars, let's continue to work hard to make our community welcome to all who seek to be members of our community and to pursue their professional and personal goals at our university.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.


Chancellor Lendley Black
Vice Chancellor Lisa Erwin
Special Assistant Susana Pelayo-Woodward
Executive Vice Chancellor Fernando Delgado
Vice Chancellor Steve Keto

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Week Message from Chancellor Black

Dear Campus Community:

As I said in my Chancellor's welcome last August, "The political environment, and particularly the presidential race, are adding considerably to feelings of unrest, discouragement, and anger."  Unfortunately, that unrest, discouragement, and anger not only continued but increased for many people.  The election is now over, but healing and moving forward in positive ways will not happen unless we take decisive action to repair what has been broken.  I raised these concerns in August because I was worried about our entire campus community.  I wanted to be sure we focused on helping our students and caring for each other, regardless of our political views.   
As a result of numerous national and local events, significant numbers of our colleagues were already experiencing attacks, threats, and an increased loss of their sense of belonging. 

On all sides of the political debates, or I should say, "irrational accusations and name calling", we have had people engaged not in communication, not in sharing meaning with each other or attempting to understand and respect each other.  Instead our dialogue has been dominated by an approach that literally screams: "You must listen to me, because you are wrong, and I reject you!"

We are a public institution and all political views should be expressed freely without degrading those with whom we disagree.  Our classrooms and all learning environments must be safe places for intellectual discussion and true debate as we expand our knowledge and try to better understand those with different opinions and perspectives.  If we only focus on winners and losers, we have no chance of fulfilling our higher education mission.  However, if we recognize how the past year or so of inflamed rhetoric has split us further apart and hurt those who were already marginalized, perhaps we can begin moving together towards a different future.  Many UMD community members may feel disempowered, but together we can control how we respond to these events and how we discover new avenues of living and working together to advance our purpose of educating our students, all of our students, for our new and ever-changing realities. 

UMD is such an outstanding place.  Let us recognize the harm that has been done and commit ourselves to creating an even greater future of collaboration, respect, and academic achievements.


Lendley Black