In March, the report of the Joint President/Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force was submitted to the University Senate and Wallace C. Loh, president of the University of Maryland. The senate has now endorsed the findings of the task force and President Loh has called on the university to begin implementing the proposed changes. The recommendations centered on nine key areas: university values; prevention and education; hate/bias incident response; centralization; communication; evaluation and assessment; free speech and freedom of expression; current policies and guidelines; and resources and implementation.
Among the recommendations that will now be put into place are:
- Adopt a university values statement that will include the aim of building a community that is united, respectful, secure and safe, inclusive, accountable, and empowered and open to growth.
- Approve a policy that would prohibit “threatening or intimidating acts motivated in whole or in part because of an individual or group’s actual or perceived protected status.”
- Adopt a statement on free speech values, which outlines the importance of promoting and protecting free expression, while considering the consequences that may result from hate speech.
- Conduct biennial climate surveys of faculty, staff, and students to better understand individual experiences in a variety of dimensions.
- Develop a comprehensive prevention and education initiative on diversity, inclusion and respect for faculty, staff and students consisting of a blend of mandatory and voluntary programming.
“All public universities are wrestling with balancing the rights of free speech and academic freedom with the values of diversity and inclusiveness. The task force has carefully crafted a cutting-edge conduct policy, free speech statement, and values statement that we believe protect all of those rights and values,” said Lucy Dalglish, one of the three co-chairs of the task force and dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
President Loh added that “we can and will make our campus more inclusive and respectful of every person’s human dignity. We’ll do this together, based on our core values of excellence and equity, on our commitment to civil discourse and academic freedom, and with the additional resources needed. The job of implementing the recommendations of the Joint Task Force belongs to all of us.”