COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ/AP) — As the investigation continues into the fatal stabbing of a Bowie State student at the University of Maryland, the victim was remembered at the College Park campus as a young man with a bright future whose life was cut tragically short.
The case has prompted wide-ranging discussions about race on campus.
The university honored Richard Collins III, who was fatally stabbed on the campus.
Collins was scheduled to graduate from Bowie State University on Tuesday. His family accepted his degree at the commencement ceremony held on the College Park campus.
Police say Collins was attacked by Sean Urbanski early Saturday while visiting the University of Maryland. The black student’s slaying is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime.
It is important to Collins’ friends to find out whether he was killed for the color of his skin.
“Dealing with a situation such as a potential hate crime, our humanity cannot be forgotten, because that’s the hate crime. It’s complete opposite of humanity,” says Ian Sloan.
The state attorney spokesman says they are still interviewing witnesses and the FBI is continuing to trace the suspect’s digital trail, which police say includes membership in “Alt-Right” nation which posted racist messages.
Another report says he had a profile on a website where he commented on and “favorited” racist images.
Urbanski’s lawyer says his client was drunk when he stabbed Collins in the chest.
“It means a lot to find out if it truly was a hate crime, because that, that’s just as bad enough someone in an intoxicated state can be violent but to be motivated by racial hatred,” says UMD assistant dean Andrea Morris.
College Park President Wallace Loh attended the memorial service.
Students have criticized him for doing little to stem racial divisions after several incidents.
Urbanski, who is white, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held without bond.
The University of Maryland released the following statement Wednesday regarding the incident and outlined an action plan to combat racism:
Dear University of Maryland community,
As we grieve the loss of Lt. Richard Collins III of Bowie State University, we must also act to combat hate and create a safer campus.
The investigation and prosecution of this heinous crime is underway, led by the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, supported by the Prince George’s County Police Department, the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We must allow these law enforcement agencies the time to do their work with due diligence.
But we must do more. Based on advice I have received from a broad coalition of campus partners, I am announcing the following University actions, effective immediately.
1. We have asked the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) to create a trained, rapid-response team for any hate-bias incident. This action team — comprised of faculty, staff, and students — would provide support and services to any member of our community who is the subject of a hate incident.
2. We will allocate $100,000 in supplemental funds for the ODI to support diversity and inclusion efforts that educate all members of our community.
3. We will task the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct to lead in the development and dissemination of an annual report on all hate-bias incidents on campus. This will provide information about incident rates and ongoing prevention, response and education measures.
4. We will ask the Athletic Council to immediately consider how to strengthen existing Intercollegiate Athletics policy to explicitly prohibit any hate-bias symbols or actions in any athletic venue, subject to immediate removal of the violator from that venue.
5. We will establish a task force on hate-bias and campus safety — comprised of faculty, staff, students, and alumni — to conduct a comprehensive review of all relevant university policies and procedures. This task force will submit a final report with recommendations and guidelines to foster an environment where hate is not tolerated.
– It should engage the entire UMD community on difficult issues at the intersections of free speech, hate speech, and freedom of association.
– It should consider strengthened or new educational and curricular initiatives, and any special programming.
– And, it should work with UMD’s communications staff on a public awareness effort to inform our campus community about its work.
This is the beginning. There will be more actions once the task force submits its final recommendations.
Today, UMD students, faculty, staff, and friends gathered for a moment of reflection to honor Lt. Collins and to draw strength from each other. 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.
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.
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.
Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland
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