“United by this recent tragedy, we can be a force for good. Together, we can be stronger and smarter than those who would divide us and subvert the values that undergird our University and our democracy.”
University of Maryland president Wallace D. Loh capped a Wednesday announcement with that statement, referencing the horrific killing of 23-year-old Richard Collins III on his school’s campus five days earlier. Collins was stabbed to death early Saturday morning by 22-year-old Matthew Urbanski, a UMD student and Severna Park native who authorities have found was a follower of white supremacist ideologies.
Collins had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army one day earlier and would have graduated from Bowie State University this past Monday.
Yesterday, Loh said in the campus-wide announcement that the university will be bolstering its anti-hate initiatives in several ways:
- Creating a “trained, rapid-response team for any hate-bias incident” within the Office of Diversity & Inclusion made up of professors, staff and students. It will be tasked with “provid[ing] support and services to any member of our community who is the subject of a hate incident.”
- Allocating $100,000 in ODI funding to support diversity and inclusion education initiatives on campus.
- Requiring a new annual report on hate-bias incidents on campus from the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct.
- Requesting that the school’s Athletic Council strengthen anti-hate policies at athletic events, such as removing those who express hate with symbols or actions.
- And forming a hate-bias and campus safety task force that will review school policies and submit recommendations “to foster an environment where hate is not tolerated.”
“We all want a culture that rejects hate and forges a more perfect union in our nation’s rich multi-cultural and multi-ethnic diversity,” Loh said in the announcement. “But these are fraught times, on our campus, across the nation, and the world. It is on all of us to stand up and fight the racism, extremism, and hate that are cancers in our body politic.”
Fraught times indeed. Urbanski’s home county of Anne Arundel has been making headlines for ugly incidents recently. Two weeks ago, Anne Arundel County authorities received reports of a noose found hanging from a light outside Crofton Middle School, and last week, police discovered a civilian staff member in their department — a high school classmate of Urbanski’s — had made light of Collins’ murder on Facebook. In the respective incidents, police arrested two men from Crofton who reportedly now face hate crime charges, and suspended the employee, whose name is Welby Burgone.
Bowie State and UMD both held vigils for Collins this week. Urbanski has been charged with first- and second-degree murder and is being held without bond, though authorities aren’t yet investigating it as a hate crime.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh established a hate crime hotline for the state last November following an uptick in such incidents following the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
An earlier headline incorrectly stated Lt. Collins was a student at Coppin State, rather than Bowie State. We sincerely regret the error.
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