- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A University of Maryland student’s complaint about a message scrawled on his dorm room whiteboard has been investigated by the school’s police department and found to not qualify as a “hate bias incident,” The Diamondback newspaper reported Sunday.

Sophomore Logan Dechter reported his whiteboard had been defaced with the letters “REEEEE” writen in red ink on top of a message he had posted in black ink defining the term “homophobia.”

Mr. Dechter’s defaced message had been posted in protest of previous pro-gay rights messages being erased by unknown persons, the Diamondback said. The psychology major complained on Twitter that the message exemplified “homophobia and ableism” with “REEEEE” meant to “mock disabled people screaming.” 

“I was really upset by that. I was anxious and angry,” Mr. Dechter said, reported The Diamondback, which also noted he was so distressed by the incident that he had to skip a class.

For its part, campus police has closed its “hate bias incident” investigation, having interviewed Mr. Dechter and the student alleged to have scrawled the offending message. 

“It was a joke,” Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas said, The Diamondback reported. “The individual who wrote the word, it was an attempt to be funny but that’s something that again the motivation behind did not rise to hate bias.”

“The law in this regard is what is the individual’s motivation behind said behavior or action. Since we were able to talk to both individuals, it was determined from our standpoint at least it did not rise to be a hate bias incident,” Sgt. Hoaas added.

For his part, Mr. Dechter has shared via social media his complaint about what he considers a dismissive attitude from campus police.

“UMD police did absolutely nothing, and I heard them say on the phone say ‘I get offended by things a lot. That doesn’t make them a hate crime,’” Mr. Dechter said Wednesday on Twitter.

While police see the matter as closed, it’s unclear whether the student who offended Mr. Dechter will face any disciplinary action by the school.

“Resident Life is still conducting its own investigation,” The Diamondback said, adding, “The department would not comment on whether this case will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.”

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