- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2017

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh has responded to a student petition circulated shortly after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency. In the letter, published online Thursday by the Diamondback student newspaper, the college administrator made clear his opposition to some of the demands on constitutional grounds.

“[T]here are ‘demands’ that should not — and will not — be implemented because they are unlawful, or impractical, or unnecessary,” Mr. Loh wrote. “Examples: restrictions on freedom of speech are unconstitutional; providing ‘prayer rooms’ in every major campus building is impractical; declaring UMD a ‘sanctuary campus’ is unnecessary, since we already provide all the protections and support allowed under the law.”

In December, this newspaper reported on the ProtectUMD student coalition’s list of 64 “demands,” which included language suggesting a ban on movies “offensive” to the campus’ Muslim community to be in order.

Mr. Loh, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen who grew up in Peru, waxed philosophical in his letter about the importance of an honest but respectful exchange of political ideas both to the University of Maryland community and the country at-large.

“No anodyne will heal the divisions in our country today, nor should it. At the University of Maryland, we do not fear the clash of ideas and values,” the Yale Law-educated Mr. Loh wrote. “I ask every member of our academic community to help us move forward with an open mind, consider different perspectives, and debate with respect and civility. These are the qualities that make trust, collaboration, and progress possible in a democracy.”



In addition to his letter, Mr. Loh took to Twitter Thursday morning to emphasize the value of free speech.

“American democracy is about the right of people to advocate for what they believe is right. Read more in my letter https://go.umd.edu/message,” he tweeted, adding in a subsequent tweet, “At #UMD, we do not fear the clash of ideas. I ask every member of our academic community to help move UMD forward & forge unity in diversity[.]”

 

• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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