By Brianna Rhodes, Special to the AFRO

The University of Maryland released a report from its diversity campus climate survey earlier this month. It included feedback such as racial and ethnic differences related to “belongingness, feeling welcomed and satisfaction with the decision to attend or work at UMD.”

Latinx and Black participants indicated less attachment to the university compared to their White and Asian counterparts. Also, people of color, women and gender non-binary individuals reported greater concerns about personal safety.

UMD Climate Survey Homepage. (Screengrab)

The survey was conducted at the beginning of the spring semester for students, faculty and staff to share their experiences and perspectives on safety and inclusion concerns, according to its website.

Students of color at UMD revealed that they were not surprised with the results and stated the administration should make improvements to make all students feel welcomed and acknowledged on campus.

Linda Kuo, an Asian American and Pacific Islander student intern for Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) department said the survey reveals relevant information about the racial and ethnic differences in feeling welcomed on campus, personal safety issues and hate-bias incidents.

Kuo said more transparency on behalf of the administration would be appreciated and the reaction rate and preventative measures to diversity and inclusion-related incidents on campus could be improved.

“There are many general ways the university could improve, such as implementing diversity training for Greek life, hiring and retaining more professors of color and increasing funding for diverse spaces and programming,” Kuo said.

Graduate student Jaelen Barnett said the climate of the school has changed since the murder of Bowie State University student, Lt. Richard Collins III, on UMD’s campus last year. Sean Urbanski, who was charged with Collins’ death, is set to go on trial in July. The results of the survey were revealed on May 3, almost a year after Collins’ death.

“The climate has just been in a state of like unknown, not really showing too much and I say that from an administrative side,” Barnett said. “The students don’t really know where the administration is really trying to work towards.”

Barnett said the administration sends out emails to the campus community, but it really isn’t to the point where students are well informed about them to take the initiative to attend. Overall, he does feel like UMD is a good school and there is unity and camaraderie amongst the Black community on campus.

Another graduate student, Delisha Thompson, who attended UMD for undergrad, agrees with her peers about the climate of the university and the changes that could’ve been made after Collins’ death. She said much hasn’t changed since she began attending the school in 2010.

“A silver lining could have been that the university actually makes the changes that would’ve been necessary to start on the path to moving forward for actual tangible equity diversity and inclusion . . . but that takes work.”

Thompson said to make change, she recommends students sustain pressure on the administration, arm themselves with as much information as possible, work to empower each other and create a mechanism for the pressure to stay constant.

Thompson was dissatisfied with the overall structure of the survey. She was also displeased with the average time it took to complete the survey and the lack of effort she said the administration put into convincing faculty, staff and students to take it.

The report included multiple steps the university plans to take to address and promote equity, diversity and inclusion based on the responses. Some efforts include increasing security cameras, focused police patrols, and continued investment in advanced cultural sensitivity and awareness for students’ safety.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is working on initiatives and recommendations include implementing training and education programs.