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Student Activism at University of Maryland

Guide to researching student activism at using student newspapers. Guide is co-created by Graduate Student Assistants Casey Hughes, Sara Ludewig, and Maureen Jones.

The bulk of activism related to racial justice started in the late 1960s. As the community of African American students on campus grew, the Black Student Union was formed in 1968, and this provided a way for Black students to organize and advocate for racial justice on campus. That same year, the Black Student Union led a protest on the steps of the Home Economics building. The protest was triggered by racial discrimination in a nutrition study and racial violence on campus earlier that year. Other groups became involved in racial justice activism over the years, including student groups like the Black Male Initiative (BMI) and the Latino Student Union. More recently, in 2016, a coalition named ProtectUMD petitioned the University in support of marginalized, American Indian, Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Muslim, Pro-Palestine, and Undocumented students. 

Student Boycotts Planned

1991 - BSU President-elect Brian Morris, and other Black student leaders announced that they planned to protest on campus to push the University to build a Black student center. The students argued that with a growing African American student population they should have their own space outside the scope of the Nyumburu Center.

Rodney King Protests

Students Protest King Case

1992 - The BSU was joined by 200+ UMD students and staff as they demonstrated against the acquittal of the police officers charged with beating and killing Rodney King.

Banneker Scholarship

Banneker -- The Future?

1994 - After the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship was deemed unconstitutional, students held a candelight vigil in protest of the decision and in support of the scholarship. 

Admissions Policy

Bishop Confronted by 300 Blacks in Protest of Admissions Policy

1971 - 300 Black students protested the increased admissions standards proposed by the University. Students were concerned that the new policies would disproportionately impact Black students who were already severely underrepresented and had a lower attrition rate than white students.

UM Students Rallies: A Preview of CSPAC Group

2009 - Students, alumni, and faculty protested changes on campus, including changes to the Equity and Diversity office and a decrease in diversity in the freshman class.

Coalition Members Build Shanty to Protest Campus Investments

1987 - Campus Divestment Coalition members held a rally and built a shanty on McKeldin Mall to protest apartheid in South Africa and demanded the University of Maryland's divestment from companies doing business in South Africa. The article also discusses the events of the divestment protest the previous year.

“Protect this house”

2016 - University of Maryland students associated with the Protect UMD coalition organized a walk-out in support of UMD students from minoritzed backgrounds. On the same day, the Protect UMD coalition published a list of demands addressing how to make the University of Maryland safer and more inclusive for all students.