University Of Maryland Acknowledges That Students Have Free Speech

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Defying calls from activists, the University of Maryland Wednesday concluded that a student’s offensive email, while “hateful and reprehensible,” did not warrant punishment.

Last month, the school was rocked when a 2014 email sent by a frat member to his friends before a party began to spread on the Internet. The email, in just a few dozen words, managed to offend blacks, Indians and Asians, while apparently condoning date rape:

“Regardless of the rush shirt let’s get rachet as fuck during rush week. My dick will be sucked and fucked in compound basement whether you guys like it or not. Don’t invite any nigger gals or curry monsters or slanted eye chinks, unless they’re hot. Ziggy you’re [sic] girl can come she’s cool. Remember my niggas, erect, assert, and insert, and above all else, fuck consent … dicks untouched.”

“[T]his private email, while hateful and reprehensible, did not violate university policies and is protected by the First Amendment,” President Wallace Loh told students in a campus-wide email. Loh said that the student responsible for the email has left campus for the rest of the semester (a decision he characterized as the student’s choice), but no official punishment will be levied against him.

Loh’s email included a statement from the student apologizing for his actions.

“I apologize for the pain that I have caused you, the entire University of Maryland community, and many others who were offended by my words,” wrote the student, “I regret sending that email more than I’ll ever be able to put into words. I know there is no way to erase this incident or the agony it has caused, but I want you to know that I will strive to never use such language again.”

Loh said the apology was enough. However, some students on campus are furious, bashing Loh’s reasoning and even demanding his resignation.

Maryland’s measured response stands in sharp contrast to the crackdown shown at other schools recently, in particular the University of Oklahoma. There, President David Boren reacted to the leak of a racist video by summarily expelling two students and immediately kicking all members of the associated fraternity out of their housing. Civil liberties advocates, such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, have suggested Boren’s expulsions were likely unconstitutional, but so far, nobody has sued the university.

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