Md. colleges have moments of silent for slain student, combat racism

There were moments of silence at universities across the state of Maryland to remember newly commissioned Army Second Lieutenant Richard Collins III.

Moments of silence were observed at two Maryland Universities to remember US Army Second Lt. Richard Collins III.

Bells rang a the University of Maryland, and a siren brought all activities at Bowie State University to a halt as students and faculty paused to reflect on Collins’ tragic death May 21.

Collins was stabbed to death while visiting the University of Maryland. He had just accepted his Army commission and was due to graduate at Bowie State three days later.

The incident is being investigated as a possible racially-motivated hate crime by federal authorities.  Suspect Sean Urbanski is currently facing state murder charges.

As a new academic year begins, Collins memory has become the foundation for sweeping new reforms at the University of Maryland designed to deal with issues of race and hate.

At 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday, a single Chapel bell will sound the call of silence on two campuses: the University of Maryland and Bowie State University.

RELATED: What you need to know about the Richard Collins murder investigation

It's a minute both campuses will take to remember Second Lt. Richard Collins III. The University's President announced this to WUSA 9 on Tuesday along with two other actions planned for this week.

There will be a conversation on "Race, Politics and Reconciliation" with Congressman Anthony G. Brown on Thursday. Two co-chairs for a Hate Bias Task Force will also be announced.

This is all part of UMD President Wallace D. Loh's promise to combat hate after the murder of the 23-year-old black graduate by a white student who authorities confirmed, had a Facebook connection to a KKK group.

Some student activists on campus welcomed this week's actions, but reactions were still uneasy.

“It’s a step," said UMD Black Student Union President, Tamara Adams, "I just, the communication still, some people don’t know.”

Adams hopes her college properly shared the 'Moment of Reflection" time and story behind it. Adams tells WUSA9 communication with school leaders and student groups across campus is improving, and she's excited about it. She wants it to continue and strengthen.

Sarah Eshera with the UMD Muslim Political Alliance was part of a campus rally following the murder of a Virginia Muslim teen named Nabra Hassanen. Police later ruled the murder a 'Road Rage' incident, but Eshera and many other UMD students see this as another act of hate.

On this week's announced plans, Eshera tells WUSA 9, "It’s definitely a start but it’s something that should’ve happened long ago, after that email was sent out from that predominately white fraternity that was very insulting ...  all of this should’ve happened two years ago.”

Frustrated, Shane James doesn't believe things will get any easier on campus. He brought up fliers calling on students to 'out' other undocumented students.

"There are dozens of students have that are being impacted by DACA and this racism," said James, "Anthony Brown to talk about this, that’s just a PR move to be frank."

Student Government Association Chair of Diversity, Ja'Nya Banks says UMD's Action Plan is an important step.

"It’s important  to kind of keep the memory alive, not only of what happened, to honor Lt. Collins, but to make others realize that still was a serious event, there’s still work to be done," Banks said.

For anyone interested, "Race, Politics and Reconciliation: A Conversation with Congressman Anthony G. Brown," is expected to take place Thursday, August 31, 4 p.m. at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, Dorothy D. & Nicolas Orem Alumni Hall. The University is asking people to RSVP to Natifia Mullings at mullings@umd.edu or 301-405-4076.

 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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