Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Maryland, My Maryland, UMD Proposes to Force Faculty, Students to Apologize for Existing

Reason, UMD Public Policy School Mandating Ideological Statements on Syllabus, Requiring That Class "Materials" and "Discussions" "Respect All Forms of Diversity"

The University of Maryland School of Public Policy is apparently about to require faculty members to add a statement to their syllabus; here's the cover e-mail, which I got from a source that appears to me reliable. (I tried to check with the e-mail's official sender to confirm its authenticity, and haven't heard back.)
Dear faculty,

As you know from previous emails and communications, the School of Public Policy has committed to creating a syllabus statement with regard to Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging.

The committee working on AR Action 6 has been developing this syllabus statement, which will be mandatory for all syllabi starting in Spring 2021. We have worked with the DIB committee and the Faculty Diversity committee for input and we now seek input from the faculty as a whole. You can view the final draft here.

Please let us know if you have any comments or feedback by Friday December 4th.
. . . .

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that we are gathered on the stolen land of the Piscataway Conoy people and were founded upon the erasures and exploitation of many non-European peoples. You can find more information about the Piscataway Conoy Tribe at For more information about the University of Maryland's project for a richer understanding of generations of racialized trauma rooted in the institution visit

Suggested placements: We suggest this statement should be placed just prior to or after the learning outcomes in the syllabus as well as prominent within your ELMS site. Faculty should vocally review these statements within class as well.
Conspicuously omitted, of course, is any acknowledgement of faculty or student academic freedom. What if a faculty member doesn't endorse the land acknowledgment statement, perhaps because he takes the view that conquest of land and the displacement of peoples is the norm in human history (might the Piscataway Conoy have "stolen" land from others who lived there before?), and not something that he thinks merits particular condemnation or explicit attention? Or what if he's skeptical of claims of "generations of racialized trauma rooted in the institution"? The school may have its own view of the matter, but one principle of academic freedom is that faculty need not endorse all the views that the school endorses, and cannot be compelled to publicly make such an endorsement. . . .

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