www.WDIO.com

UMD Taking Next Step Against Racism

Posted at: 02/26/2013 10:41 PM
Updated at: 02/26/2013 10:49 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Racism has been a recurring problem on the UMD campus, and once again students and staff are trying to keep conversation focused on the future.

A forum on the issue was held on Tuesday where students and staff talked about what they can do personally to change the climate around campus.

Racism has been haunting the UMD campus for years. In 2010 two white students mocked an African-American student in a facebook conversation, last year students chanted racist phrases during a hockey game, and a video of two white students in blackface surfaced this fall.

Chris Davila with the Office of Cultural Diversity said there has been a mixed reaction to the incidents on campus.

“I think on some level it really rocked the community, but then on another it didn't,” Daliva said.

Because of that mixed response the university is promoting a conversation about the issue. The call-to-action forum is just a starting point.

“We've decided to have a forum every semester to where we are constantly working on racism so that way we are being more proactive instead of, you know, doing something after the fact,” Davila said.

Student Birch Cappetta has seen the recent problems unfold.

“Racism is definitely a big issue on campus. It's really unfortunate that it has to be as big a deal as it is,” Cappetta said.

Cappetta took part in the event and said it is just one step in a bigger plan.

“I think now everybody walking out of this event has a responsibility to continue the conversation outward into the community, and into the rest of campus," Cappetta said.

The process will be long, but students and staff started the conversation. They know campus will not change without it.

About 30 people attended the event on Tuesday, and they all left with the goal to keep talking about the issue. They hope their personal messages will spread throughout the campus community.

UMD plans to hold a forum like this every semester as they move forward.