A coalition of 25 student groups at the University of Maryland have issued a letter to the school’s administrators containing 64 demands to help “marginalized student populations” feel more welcome on campus. Among the demands is a ban on public screenings of the film “American Sniper.”
The group, who call themselves ProtectUMD, sent the letter in the wake of President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory, according the Diamondback student newspaper Monday. In response to Trump’s election, the student coalition demanded additional support and protection for minority groups — particularly the Muslim, illegal immigrant, pro-Palestinian, and LGBT communities. The Muslims students especially wished the administrators to take measures “to prevent situations similar to the ‘American Sniper’ situation from happening again.”
“SEE and other organizations on campus should have better judgment when choosing to show movies that perpetuate false narratives and stereotypes of Muslims and should be held accountable if they do not take this into consideration.”
“SEE [Student Entertainment Events] and other organizations on campus should have better judgment when choosing to show movies that perpetuate false narratives and stereotypes of Muslims and should be held accountable if they do not take this into consideration,” the letter read.
The coalition was referring to the scandal that occurred in April 2015 when UMD’s SEE group faced liberal backlash for scheduling a showing of “American Sniper” — a movie documenting the life of an American hero and veteran of the Iraq War — in the student union movie theater. After offended students created a Change.org campaign to postpone the showing and include a panel discussion afterward, the school’s College Republicans and College Democrats chapters hosted a showing in May 2015 that was followed up with the panel discussion.
Nevertheless, UMD’s Muslim Students Association stated that the film “dehumanizes Muslim individuals, promotes the idea of senseless mass murder, and portrays negative and inaccurate stereotypes,” according to the Diamondback.
But now, ProtectUMD wishes to avoid any similar situations by pressuring the university and SEE to refrain from showing such controversial movies.
ProtectUMD also included in its demands the creation of more “safe” spaces for prayer for its Muslim students, “increased discussion about the diversity of the Muslim community on campus and worldwide,” and “more classes offered pertaining to Islam and the Muslim world taught by Muslim professors, who will counteract the negativity surrounding the name of Islam that is perpetuated by our culture and media.”
The demands also included that UMD declare itself to be a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students and their family members, as well as provide “mandatory training about undocumented students’ unique experiences and needs in academic settings for all university faculty and staff.” ProtectUMD also asked the school to nix the Columbus Day holiday and replace it with Indigenous People’s Day to “take away the stain of colonialism from our University.”