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FSU SGA Allegations Spur Accusations & Explanations

November 15th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

On Sunday, an email was sent from Lukas O'Brien, who is the public relations chair of the Frostburg State University Student Government Association and the campus chapter of the NAACP, alleging that free lance writer Cassie Conklin was behind a Twitter Account that had racially harrassed SGA presidential candidate Aryiana Ward. The email detailed how they had discovered the identity, demanded an investigation of Conklin, and a banning of her from campus. On Monday, the Allegany County Chapter of the NAACP expressed support for the campus chapter, and said that the Allegany County chapter had been rebuffed in efforts to join a group working on issues involving race and discrimination at FSU. That prompted a response from

Frostburg State President Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, saying the university has made strides to address problems and detailed the response. Nowaczyk said that he had no control over social media. Conklin is also a district aide for Congressman David Trone.

We have reached out to Trone for comment, but have not received any. The phone number to Conklin's landline is not in service. And the Twitter account in question is no longer in operation. 


Statement by NAACP Branch 7007

The Allegany County NAACP Unit 7007 would like to extend our hearts and shoulders to the students from Frostburg State University (FSU). These young people have so bravely spoken out against the harassment and discrimatory acts they have experienced. We commend you for not sitting in your trauma but using it to bring change.
In March of this year, our Unit informed the University President and Administration of our concerns with their discrimation policy or lack thereof. During this conversation we urged administration to work on a more defined policy, identify the process, and highlight complaint procedures to help in reducing discriminatory conduct on campus. We offered to be a community partner in the room to discuss further solutions. FSU has yet to accept our offer.
Although Frostburg State University is not the one being accused of discriminatory misconduct and harassment to this student, they are accountable. Their lack of policy that protects students from abuse from administration, faculty, instructors and alumni is what created the environment for these acts to be committed. The current learning environment where students of color have to endure this type of discrimination and harassment for any amount of time is unacceptable let alone an extended period of time.
The students are left without an established procedure to protect themselves and seek corrective action. They are encouraged to keep all issues on campus by contacting the University Administration and the University Police to no avail. Unfortunately, when students do submit complaints formally they are told that the University is limited on what they can do and complaints go unaddressed. In short, the students are told to ignore the cause and the symptoms will go away. We all know racism and harassment do not work that way. In fact, the current issue is one of many complaints.
Our concerns and questions are the same as in March. What type of an environment is Frostburg State University fostering to not discourage these actions? Silence in moments like these is equal to agreement. This is not a question for us of who did but the question is who did not prevent it? These students are paying for an education however this experience demonstrates to them that their voices should be silenced because of the color of their skin. They are learning that racism, discrimation, and harassment should be regular parts of life that you need to cope with. Is this what we want our next generation of leaders to learn? Their parents are sending them to this school that promises a diverse and inclusive learning experience. Instead their child is exposed to discrimation, harassment, microaggressions and flat out racism with no steps to hold the aggressor accountable.
The culture on that campus does not represent our community yet it is the example for people outside these mountains of who we are. We are asking the community to support the students in asking for change. This includes all parties that have a vested interest in more favorable outcomes. That means Congress which provides funding and oversight on University operations benefiting alumni, students, and our community.
Please help us hold them accountable for the students' experience here and our community's reputation. The Unit's goal will always be for these students to want to stay and give back to our community. This is how we get diverse teachers in our classrooms, diverse business owners and community members. We can not be responsible for one person's actions but we can be accountable to make sure the space for it to happen again no longer exists. We are asking students, alumni, and the community to reach out to Frostburg State University and ask them to update or create a safeguard to protect the students. By protecting them we are protecting the integrity of our community.
PN 1.008 Frostburg State University Statement on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity.
PN 1.014. Frostburg State University Anti-Harassment and Retaliation Statement . Frostburg State University is firmly committed to maintaining a learning and workplace
Stay safe not silent
The executive committee of UNIT #7007
Statement by Frostburg State University President Dr. Ron Nowaczyk

We are disappointed that we were not contacted by Allegany County NAACP Branch 7007 before they released today’s statement. While we understand and appreciate their concern, the information conveyed is an inaccurate representation of Frostburg State University. Frostburg State is committed to being a campus which values human diversity and respects individuals who represent diversity. Since last March, complaints brought to the University’s attention have been addressed and Frostburg State has been following its written policies.

Complaints do not go unaddressed. Complaints that are brought forward are investigated and responded to according to policy. However, we cannot take actions that violate law including federal law and the U.S. Constitution, including due process.

When SGA brings concerns forward, the University responds, such as recent concerns that are being readily addressed by the University’s Faculty Senate.

Beyond responding to individual concerns, the principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are receiving due attention across campus, including a 10-point plan created and being implemented by the University-wide University Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a group that has strong student representation. This plan has been discussed with all of the FSU governance units, including SGA. As part of that, all employees and students are undergoing DEI awareness training. In the last year, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was expanded, and Robin Wynder was promoted to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer.

These are just examples. We are not standing still on this issue. However, we have no control over, nor can we regulate social media. We are aware of allegations between current Frostburg State University students and a former student who is a member of the local community. However, due to the possibility of individual legal action, Frostburg State must refrain from any further comment at this time. At this point, nothing that has been brought to the attention of Frostburg State meets the requirements of being a hate/bias attack.

We are also disappointed by misrepresentations contained in the NAACP’s statement. For example, the leadership of NAACP Branch 7007 was invited to meet with the president and other university representatives each semester. No response has been received.

Personal attacks, racist language and divisive commentary have no place at Frostburg State, where we value civil discourse, the considerate exchange of ideas and respect for diversity and difference. We also value the principles of freedom of speech, a founding principle of our country, and one, unfortunately, that often clashes with a desire for civility among those who disagree.

Ronald Nowaczyk, PhD

Frostburg State University