MACHIAS — Amid tensions and protests on college campuses nationwide over the election of Donald Trump as president, the leaders of Maine’s public university system are telling students to report hate crimes and are reassuring them that they are safe on campus.

“While horrendous acts of hate have occurred across the country, and we know people are experiencing anxiety and fear within our community, we all, including the UMaine police, unequivocally stand together and assure that harassment or intimidation of any sort will not be tolerated,” University of Maine President Susan Hunter wrote in an email to those on the Orono campus.

Several other presidents sent out similar emails, officials said.

“It’s an opportunity to be proactive, while respecting free speech,” said Ray Rice, interim president and provost of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. “These concerns are real and their anxiety is real. It is a particularly difficult time.”

So far, no major incidents have been reported at any of the seven University of Maine System campuses, campus presidents and system officials said Monday at the board of trustees meeting in Machias.

The Associated Press and other media outlets identified several reports of racist incidents at schools since the election last Tuesday, including a University of Oklahoma student who was identified as having threatened – via text messages – black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, police are looking into a report of a man who threatened to set a Muslim student on fire with a lighter Friday if she didn’t remove her hijab.


In Maine, student representatives to the board of trustees said Monday that tensions are high on campuses and praised leaders for being pro-active in reassuring students and reminding them of what services and resources are available to them on campus.

“It’s a hard election for the millennium generation in particular,” said Jay Knowlton, the University of Southern Maine graduate student representative to the board.

At a meeting on Sunday, the student reps asked the trustees “to recognize there is some unrest and it would be very wise to restate our policies around that – that hate is not OK,” Knowlton said.

Several campuses were also planning forums to discuss the election, each emphasizing that the sessions were an opportunity to consider all views.

At USM, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is sponsoring a moderated discussion that will “go beyond the punditry, the mudslinging, and the ridicule to try to understand what is happening in our country.”

“If this election indicated anything, it is that we are living in one country, but culturally, we occupy parallel universes,” read a flier for the event, to be held on Tuesday.


Rice attached a copy of the UMaine Presque Isle conduct code and freedom of speech and assembly policies to his email.

“The subsequent intolerant incidents that have occurred on some campuses around the country provide an opportunity for the University of Maine at Presque Isle to reaffirm its commitment to respectful dialogue, human dignity and social justice. It is also crucial that we continue to support free speech on our campus,” Rice wrote.

Hunter also said any “illegal, abusive or incivil behavior” should be reported to the UMaine police or the Dean of Students Office.

“Our policies and our focus on inclusion and compassion ARE NOT changing. We are not retreating here at UMaine,” Hunter wrote in her email.

The University of Maine at Farmington is also planning a forum “for ‘election reflection’ and giving public voice to emotions,” President Kathryn Foster said in an email. “Your thoughtfulness, your understanding of and appreciation for the range of views on campus … and, perhaps most of all, your forthright honesty about your fears, anxieties, apprehensions and hopes reinforce core UMF values of diversity, openness, safety and security, and community well-being,” Foster wrote.

Students at multiple Maine colleges – from Southern Maine Community College to Bates College in Lewiston – were planning a walkout at noon Tuesday, part of a coordinated “Stop Trump” campaign nationwide by a group called Student Action that was spreading via Facebook late Monday.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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