University of Maryland officials have concluded that a vulgar email a student sent to members of his fraternity last year was "hateful and reprehensible" but did not violate the school's policies and is protected by the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.
University President Wallace Loh announced Wednesday the results of an investigation that involved campus and Prince George's County, Maryland, police, as well as the university's Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct.
At issue was a private email sent in January 2014 by a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity that surfaced publicly in March. It contained a racist, sexist message indicating that the author wanted to have sex with women during fraternity rush week but didn't want people to invite women of certain races. The email also contained a line using an expletive to indicate "above all else" to forget about "consent."
Loh said the email was "profoundly hurtful to the entire university community." By mutual consent, he said the student responsible has left campus and will not return for the semester.
The student issued an apology through Loh's statement:
"I apologize for the pain that I have caused you, the entire University of Maryland community, and many others who were offended by my words. . . . For this, I am deeply sorry," the apology said.
"I regret sending that email more than I'll ever be able to put into words," the student continued. "I know there is no way to erase this incident or the agony it has caused, but . . . I have learned an important life lesson, realizing there is no room for hate or prejudice of any kind in our community."
Loh said the student proposed to undergo training in "diversity and cultural competence" and to perform community service. "I accepted these actions to hold him morally accountable," Loh said.
The student is no longer a member of the fraternity.