Maryland and student leaders at the University of Maryland of the NAACP are calling for more action after a Bowie State University student was stabbed to death near a College Park, Maryland, bus stop.
University President Wallace Loh announced an action plan to stop racially-biased acts on campus, including forming a hate and bias response team and task force. Students want more rapid changes to protect themselves and other students at the University of Maryland.
Army Lt. Richard Collins, 23, an African-American senior at Bowie State, was allegedly killed by Sean Urbanski, a white University of Maryland student, in May, according to police. Investigators discovered Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group, Alt-Reich: Nation, which posted racist and inflammatory material.
Investigators are quick to point out Urbanski’s listing as a group member does not suggest he committed a crime because of hate. But leaders said unsafe feelings on the university’s campus can no longer be tolerated.
“It should have never have happened,” said Maryland NAACP President Gerald Stansbury. “(Collins) was in a safe zone.”
Charnell Ferguson, the collegiate NAACP president for Maryland, said she was familiar with the university’s response plans but don’t believe they are enough.
“I want to see outline of a policy consequences,” Ferguson said. “I want to see a task force on campus. Not just people on the campus but outside. We propose students from the University of Maryland are co-chair, and at least 50 percent of the task force be student led.”
Recent graduate Yanet Amanuel said Tuesday that it is important for student activists to be included, because they highlighted concerns about racial hostility before Collins' death. Students in the ProtectUMD Coalition have criticized the university for not acting on their concerns.
"A lot of students in the coalition feel that the only reason this action plan has been put in place is because of media pressure, and that in order to really effectively have an action plan in place, you have to have an open dialogue conversation with the students who are impacted by this situation as well as having student leaders involved in the task force process as well,'' Amanuel said.
The killing happened after reports this year of racist threats at the University of Maryland, College Park, including a noose that was found inside a campus fraternity house as well as reports of racist flyers.