REPORT OF THE TASKFORCE TO STUDY THE EFFECTS OF CULT
ACTIVITIES ON PUBLIC SENIOR HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
Hon. Parris N. Glendening
Governor of Maryland
Annapolis Maryland 21401
Hon. Thomas V. Mike Miller
President, Senate of Maryland
Annapolis Maryland 21401
Hon. Casper R. Taylor, Jr.
Speaker, Maryland House of
Annapolis Maryland 21401
Department of Legislative Support Services
90 State Circle
Annapolis Maryland; 21401
William T. Wood, Esquire, Chair
Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr.
Araceli G. Carrigan
Ms. Maitland W. Dade, Staff
Ms. Nina Hopkins
Mr. Warren Kelley
Dr. Eric P.
Ms. Joan Marionni
Ms. Sowmya Murthy
Sen. Paul G.
Ms. Patricia Rausch
Mr. Andrew A. Rittler
Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Jr.
Ms. Roberta J. Thomas (resigned
June 7, 1999)
Mr. Franz C. Wilson
Back to Executive Summary
Joint House Resolution 22 established this Task Force to Study the
Effects of Cult Activities on Public Senior Higher Education Institutions.
According to JHR 22, recent tragedies occurring in California, Mississippi
and Florida, an incident in Japan and other information gathered by the
General Assembly of Maryland prompted the passage of this Resolution. The
Task Force was directed to "communicate with and obtain information from
"cult" awareness organizations, former cult members, college administrators,
campus security personnel, campus ministers, families of "cult" members, and
other interested parties regarding the recruitment and organizational
practices of "cults", the extent of "cult" activities within the University
System of Maryland, St. Mary's College and Morgan State University, the
response of college administrators in Maryland and around the nation to
"cult" activities and the effect of "cult" activity on students and to
report no later than September 30, 1999 on its findings and recommendations
to the Governor, and pursuant to Section 2-1246 of the State Government
Article, to the general Assembly." (Quotation marks
The members of the Task Force were appointed on or about February 15,1999
and the Chairman was appointed on or about April 5, 1999. The members are
William T. Wood, Esq., Chair, Member, Board of Regents of the University
System of Maryland; Hon. Emmett C. Burns, Jr., Maryland House of Delegates;
Hon. Sharon Grosfeld, Maryland House of Delegates; Hon. Ida Ruben, Maryland
Senate; Hon. Paul G. Pinsky, Maryland Senate; Ms. Joan Marionni, University
System of Maryland; Mr. Warren Kelley, University of Maryland, College Park;
Ms. Nina Hopkins, Morgan State University; Dr. Eric P. Kafka, St. Mary's
College; Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Jr., Maryland Higher Education
Commission; Ms. Araceli G. Carrigan, Parent Association; Ms. Roberta J.
Thomas, Parent Association; Ms. Patricia Rausch, Parent; Mr. Franz C.
Wilson, Parent; Ms. Sowmya Murthy, Student, Towson University; and Mr.
Andrew A. Rittler, Student, Salisbury State University. Ms. Maitland Dade
was appointed staff to the Task Force.
On May 11, 1999, the members of the Task Force met each other at
University System Headquarters and scheduled the Task Force's first meeting
for Monday, May 25, 1999, from10:00 am to 4:45 p.m. at the same location. It
was decided and conducted in conformity with the Maryland Open Meetings Act
and all relevant amendments. "Although the Maryland Open Meetings Act
permits closed executive sessions, the Task Force agreed that there would be
no closed sessions of any kind, and that all proceedings would be subject to
public scrutiny. The Chairman also directed staff to schedule on the agenda
for the May 25,1999 meeting time to consider a definition of the term
It was further agreed that all proceedings before the Task Force would be
recorded and that the tapes and all written materials considered by the Task
Force would be made available at USM Headquarters to be reviewed and
duplicated by any interested person upon request and at reasonable times.
Upon completion of the mission of the Task Force, all documents and audio
tapes of recorded Task Force proceedings will be delivered to the Maryland
General Assembly Library and Information Services, 90 State Circle,
Annapolis, Maryland 21401 and may also be reviewed in accordance with
Proceedings Before The Task Force
On May 2, 1999, Mr. Kelley traveled to Salisbury State University to
question the students in attendance. Students were present from eight USM
institutions. A copy of the transcript of his questions and the students
answers are included with the tapes of this meeting and are available for
review at University System Headquarters.
On May 25, 1999, the Task Force held its first meeting. Mark Davis, Esq.,
Assistant Attorney General of Maryland, outlined the requirements of the
Open Meetings Law and other legal issues pertaining to the mission of the
Task Force. Task Force members and others in attendance in the audience were
invited to question him. Mr. Franz Wilson, Chair of the Subcommittee on
Outside Resources of the Task Force, was asked to describe the efforts of
his Subcommittee to identify individuals who could provide information to
the Task Force. It is noted that the Chairman established the Subcommittee
on Outside Resources and appointed its members to insure that information
available outside the University System and its campuses was not overlooked
and that relevant information from such individuals was considered by the
Task Force in arriving at its findings and recommendations.
One of the first items that Task Force undertook was to define the word
"cult". During this meeting, several witnesses, including Mr. Ronald Loomis,
American Family Foundation and Dr. William T. Stuart, Professor of
Anthropology and Director of Undergraduate Studies, UMCP, offered
definitions. Other attendees, including Task Force members, expressed their
views as to what the term "cult" meant. The Task Force determined that it
should consider the legislative history behind JHR 22 first before deciding
whether or not to define the term "cult". It was noted that Task Force
member Del. Sharon Grosfeld was involved in the legislative process, and
that she would provide an excellent resource to determine legislative intent
since the word "cult" is contained in the caption and body of JHR 22. The
Task Force then decided to ask Del. Grosfeld to bring to a subsequent Task
Force meeting, the information necessary for the Task Force to determine the
legislative history as stated.
The Task Force also heard from Ms. Doris Quelet, Baltimore Cult Awareness
Network; Rev. Elizabeth Platz, Chaplain, UMCP; Dr. Sidney "Denny" L. Gulick,
Professor of Mathematics, UMCP; Mr. Edwin Rodriguez, an honor student, UMCP;
Ms. Laura White, a former student of the Maryland Institue College of Art
(not a USM institution)*" and Ms. Shelita Clayton, a graduate
student at Bowie State University.
Documents were submitted by the speakers and are on file. All
subsequently received documents will also be on file.
This report will not attempt to summarize the testimony or the written
materials received by the Task Force now or in the future, as all of this
testimony and all of the documents may be reviewed at USM Headquarters by
any interested party. Additionally, in light of the importance of the issues
under consideration, and the divergent views presented in the testimony, the
Task Force has concluded that the best and most accurate way for the Task
Force and all interested persons to assess the testimony and documents is by
direct review rather than by summary presented in this Report.
At the conclusion of the May 25, 1999 proceedings, members of the Task
Force were provided an opportunity to offer their observations and requests
for further action. Mr. Saunders requested more specifics with respect to
activities on the campuses and that UMCP provide the Task Force with its
view for potential solutions if a problem is found. Mr. Wilson expressed the
desire to hear from Dr. Bud Thomas and requested that UMCP present someone
at the next meeting to address possible solutions. Ms. Rausch expressed the
hope that Del. Grosfeld would provide the Task Force with the legislative
history behind JHR 22**, Dr. Kafka expressed the thought that it
would be impossible for the Task Force to determine the numbers of
destructive groups present on any of the campuses because none of the
speakers would identify the names of destructive groups. It was an activity
that cannot be subject to specifics and the Task Force should focus on the
education of students. Ms. Hopkins stated that the testimony had opened her
eyes, that the campuses need to address these issues for students and
parents and that the campuses should consider legal liability issues. Ms.
Marionni expressed the desire for more information on the law governing any
policies that the Task Force might establish and stated that it does not
appear easy to find a remedy for such problems***. Mr. Kelley
stated that he was struck by the complexity of the issue, that it was very
difficult to even find a definition of a cult, that the campuses would be
better off with education rather than trying to control organizational
activity and that the Task Force should try to determine the types of
education strategy employed by other colleges and universities around the
country. Ms. Murthy wondered how the Task Force could make a difference in
this area. Ms. Charlotte Davis, speaking for Sen. Ruben, who was required to
leave early due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict, stated that she would
like to see more testimony on recruiting techniques and how to stop or
control such activity. The Task Force concluded by scheduling additional
public meetings and agreeing to issue its findings and recommendations only
after all testimony and written materials had been received and considered
in public sessions.
The next meeting of the Task Force was held from 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
June 7, 1999 at the Plant Science Building, Critique Room, UMCP. The Task
Force heard from Dr. William S. Bainbridge, Science Advisor to the National
Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic
Sciences; Dr. William "Bud" Thomas, Vice President for Student Affairs,
UMCP; and Gary Pavela, Esq., Director of Judicial Programs and Student
Ethical Development, UMCP. Dr. Thomas brought with him a team of resource
persons who were questioned, including Officer Paul Dillon, UMCP Police
Department; Dr. Vivian Boyd, UMCP Counseling Center, Mr. Jan Davidson, UMCP
Resident Life; Dr. Gerry Strumpf, UMCP Orientation; Dr. Valerie Woolston,
UMCP International Education Services; and Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, UMCP
Union and Campus Programs. This testimony was tape recorded and is available
to be reviewed. The team of resource persons was asked questions by the Task
Force and the audience and this testimony was also recorded and is available
Additionally, the Task Force approved the minutes of the meeting of May
25, 1999, adopted Robert's Rules of Order for conduct of its meetings, and
established an "open forum" to be a part of all Task Force meetings.
Although not required by the Open Meetings Act, the Chairman recommended and
moved to create a one-hour segment of this and all subsequent meetings for
all interested persons to address the Task Force, so long as their testimony
is "reasonable and relevant", in order to allow the public to participate in
the process. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously. The Chairman
also moved and it was seconded that all meetings will continue to be open to
the public. Additionally, a procedure was established by the Task Force that
all documents for distribution to the Task Force are to be submitted to the
Chair who will admit them if they are deemed to be "reasonable and
relevant". A majority vote of the Task Force can overrule the Chair's
preliminary decision. Additionally, the Chair requested that the Attorney
General provide an opinion concerning the privacy of e-mail, letters, faxes
and other written documents as an inquiry was made by Task Force member Ms.
Patricia Rausch about this issue.
The Task Force established a new sub-committee called the Subcommittee on
Surveys. Mr. Warren Kelley was appointed Chair and Ms. Joan Marionni was
appointed Vice Chair. The mission of this Subcommittee was to create survey
questions to be submitted to institution representatives who have personal
knowledge of this subject matter in order to satisfy the mandate of JHR
The Chairman acknowledged that Ms. Roberta J. Thomas, Task Force member,
announced her resignation from the Task Force due to her mother being ill.
Ms. Thomas's resignation was accepted.
The Chairman reported that inquiry was made of the Attorney General with
respect to whether individuals wishing to give anonymous testimony, or
testimony not open to the public, may do so. A copy of the opinion of the
Attorney General was admitted to the record stating that the Task Force
meetings must be open in accordance with the Open Meetings Act and that no
basis has been demonstrated for conducting any proceedings in closed
sessions. However, the Attorney General advises that individuals wishing to
give anonymous testimony may do so by speaker telephone or in person
concealed behind a screen. The Attorney General's opinion also states that
unsigned written testimony may be received by the Task Force anonymously and
that the Task Force can maintain confidentially of the anonymous presenters
so long as their names were not made a part of the record nor communicated
to any Task Force member. If a Task Force member should coincidentally know
who the speaker is, the Task Force member is not required to reveal that
fact. A motion was approved that the Task Force will receive unsigned
written testimony from witnesses who have either experienced a Task Force
related issue at a USM campus, St. Mary's College or Morgan State College or
who have personal knowledge of such experience so long as it is reasonable
The Task Force agreed to forward questions, prepared by the Subcommittee
on Surveys and reviewed by the Task Force, to the 14 professional counselors
at the Counseling Center, 15 Resident Directors in Resident Life, and 14
Chaplains in order the assess the extent of relevant activity on the College
Park campus. Mr. Kelley and Ms. Marionni prepared the survey questions which
were presented at the June 18, 1999 meeting.
The Task Force heard from Mr. David Bardine; Mr. Don Sweat; Mr. Alex
Colvin; Ms. Hana Colvin; Mr. Dan Fefferman; Mr. Carl Novile; and Mr. Douglas
Jaco by during the "opensession". Mr. Lloyd Eby was deferred to June 18,
1999. This testimony was also recorded and the tapes are with the record at
the Maryland General Assembly Library and Information Services, 90 State
Circle, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 and are available for review.
Del. Sharon Grosfeld reported on the legislative history of JHR 22.She
brought the entire legislative file with her from the General Assembly of
Maryland, which was available for examination by Task Force members. Del.
Grosfeld stated that it appeared by the legislative history that the word
"cult" was used in drafting the bill in its broadest terms without
recognition by the drafters that it carried such varying definitions and was
so divisive. She stated that it would be acceptable for the Task Force to
use the term "destructive groups" in lieu of the term "cult" or any other
term consistent with the mission of the Task Force and that this would be
consistent with the legislative intent behind JHR 22. It was Del.
Grosfeld. s view of the legislative history of JHR 22. It was Del.
Grosfeld's view of the legislative history of JHR 22 that the focus of the
legislature was to determine if there were groups, irrespective of the
underlying nature of such groups, causing problems with students and their
parents and if so, whether the Task Force should consider appropriate
recommendations. The Task Force deferred the definition issue to the June
18, 1999 hearing.
Documents were submitted by the speakers. All of these documents are
available for review.
The next meeting of the Task Force occurred June 18, 1999 at Bowie State
University. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. and conclude at
4:00 p.m. The Chairman opened the proceedings noting that certain
individuals were concerned that the Task Force was attempting to define
religion, identify certain groups as being "cults" and equating "destructive
groups" and "cults" with religion. The Chairman assured all persons present
that the Task Force was not attempting to control religion or religious
practices nor was it attempting to define or identify specific groups as
"cults" or "destructive groups". The Chairman suggested that a Mission
Statement would be appropriate for the Task Force to adopt in order to
satisfy the legislative intent of JHR 22 and the legislative intent as
articulated by Del. Sharon Grosfeld at the last meeting to maintain proper
A proposed Mission Statement was placed on an overhead projector and
viewed by all members of the Task Force as well as observers and copies were
circulated. A discussion ensued. Task Force member Franz Wilson suggested
that certain characteristic behaviors should be considered to assist the
Task Force's inquiry. A preliminary list of these characteristics were
identified as 1) absolute obedience to leaders; 2) charismatic, inspired and
dogmatic leaders; 3) deceit;4) threats; 5) coercive persuasions; 6)
retention techniques; 7) alienation from family, friends and society;
8)physical and/or emotion abuse; 9) mind control; 10" exploitation; 11)
worldview denouncing current values and beliefs; and 12) blackmail. This
preliminary list was approved by a majority vote of the members of the Task
Force and was placed in the record together with the proposed Mission
Statement, both of which were to be discussed at a full meeting of the Task
Force since a quorum was not present at this meeting.
The proposed Mission Statement in its entirety is:
"To determine the extent to which there are groups whose activities on
the campuses of USM institutions, St. Mary's college, or Morgan State
University are, intentionally or innocently, inappropriately:
--causing demonstrable physical, psychological or emotional harm to
--interfering substantially with the educational mission of the
institutional policies and /or
--violating institutional policies and/or federal, state or local
and to make recommendations concerning courses of action that might be
pursued by individuals or institutions to assist in the prevention and/or
resolution of those problems."
The Task Force then heard from Dr. Clemmie Solomon, Director of the Bowie
State University Counseling Center, who welcomed the Task Force and
testified concerning the experience of Bowie State University with the
relevant issues. Pastor Richard Dowhower, All Saints Lutheran Church in
Bowie, Maryland, testified as well.
Additional speakers were Douglas Jacoby, Esq., International Churches of
Christ (I.C. of C.); Dr. Sidney L. Gulick; Dan Fefferman, Esq; and Mr. Ron
Loomis. There were numerous speakers who testified during the Open Forum
section of the meeting. The speakers were Mr. Lloyd Ebby, I.C. of C. member,
Douglas Jacoby, Esq., I.C. of C. member; Mr. Darren Ford, I.C. of C. member;
Ms. Rebecca Mall, I.C. of C. member; Ms. Sonja Therakan, I.C. of C. member;
Mr. Robert Schofield, I.C. of C. member; Mr. Phil Booker, I.C. of C. member;
Mr. Mark Schunder, I.C. of C. member; and Mr. Ray Kabia, I.C. of C. member.
It developed during testimony that Mr. Jacoby had recorded the testimony of
Mr. Ron Loomis, in accordance with Task Force procedures at USMH, from an
earlier Task Force meeting, had invited members of the I.C. of C. to his
home to listen to the tapes and to testify during the open forum.
The Chairman also noted that the Task Force has publicly adopted a policy
that all communications should be forwarded through Ms. Maitland Dade, Staff
to the Task Force, for organizational purposes. It was noted that several
communications had been made outside this procedure, which was designed to
ensure fairness, integrity and openness in the proceedings of the Task
Force. The Chairman requested that all future communications be through Ms.
Dade and that any future documents flowing directly to Task Force members
without going through the approved process would be so noted. It was
reiterated by the Chairman and agreed by the Task Force that the procedure
to handle incoming documentation was necessary in order for the Task Force
to maintain accurate records of documents, and to otherwise maintain the
proceedings in an open fashion so that all interested parties would know and
understand what was occurring with the Task Force.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m. and the next meeting was scheduled
for June 29, 1999 at Bowie State University to commence at 10:00 am and to
conclude at 4:00 p.m.
The Task Force's next meeting was held on June 29, 1999 at Bowie State
University from 10:00 am - 3:00 p.m. The Task Force heard from Herbert
Rosedale, Esq., President of American Family Foundation. Mr. Rosedale, an
attorney, has represented numerous individuals who have been involved with
what he characterizes as "destructive cults".
Dean David S. Bogen, Associate Dean, and T. Carroll Brown, Scholar and
Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law, also testified
on the subject of JHR 22 and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
and related Maryland law. Dean Bogen also reviewed a number of U.S. Supreme
Court cases which define the First Amendment as applied to the States
through the Fourteenth Amendment. These cases include Wisconsin v.
Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), which involved an Amish family who refused
to send their children to State public education beyond the
8th grade.Employment Division, Department of Human
Resources v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), held that as long as
legislation is neutral on religion, it is not constitutionally impinged.
Church of Lukuni Babalu v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993),
involved constitutional review of a statute prohibiting the sacrifice of
animals during religious services. The statute was found to be
unconstitutional because it was directed at religious activities. "The Court
held that this statute was unconstitutional because it was intended to be
cast against a particular religious group. Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398
(1963), was a decision holding that unemployment benefits cannot be denied
for an individual who refuses to work on the Sabbath" The Court applied a
balancing test that if a law substantially interfered with religion, it must
have a compelling reason for its existence and it must be narrowly drawn.
"Any law directed specifically at a religious practice or belief is
unconstitutional per se." U.S.v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944), held
that an indictment cannot be founded on the truthfulness or falsity of
religious belief." These cases were carefully considered by the Task
Mrs. Nora Baker and Mr. Les Baker, parents of a former University of
Maryland, College Park, student testified" They related their family. s
experience at the College Park campus commencing in the Fall of 1993 and
their response to these experiences which contributed in a great measure to
the creation of the Task Force by the General Assembly of Maryland.
The open forum was held as usual and provided an opportunity for all
interested persons to testify concerning relevant issues." Testifying were
Mr. Lloyd Eby; Daniel Fefferman, Esq.; Ms. Jane Wright; Mr. Lawrence Baer;
and Dr. William T. Stuart" At the recommendation of Dr. Stuart, the Task
Force will invite Dr. Jeffrey Hadden, University of Virginia; Dr. David
Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University; and James Richardson, Esq.; as
speakers at future meetings of the Task Force. Pursuant to policies of the
Task Force, all of the above noted testimony was recorded and is available
Documents were submitted by the speakers." All documents are available
The Mission Statement of the Task Force was reviewed and revised. Task
Force member Joan Marionni agreed to circulate it by e-mail for a vote of
all Task Force members since a quorum was not present." Proposed
questionnaires to consulting psychologists, resident directors and community
leaders, and chaplains were attached to the proposed Mission Statement." It
was suggested that a questionnaire be developed for provosts." Task Force
member Pat Rausch requested the opportunity to work on the list of behaviors
considered objectionable by the Task Force at the last meeting proposed by
Task Force member Franz Wilson." Ms. Rausch agreed to review these
characteristics with Mr. Wilson and report back at the next Task Force
The Task Force adjourned at 3:00 p.m." The next meeting is scheduled for
July 14, 1999 at Morgan State University.
The Task Force convened on July 14, 1999 at Morgan State University.
Present were Task Force members Sen. Ida Ruben, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Dr. Eric
P. Kafka, Mr. Warren Kelley, Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Jr., Ms. Patricia
Rausch, Mr. Franz C. Wilson, and the Chairman." Ms. Maitland Dade, staff,
was also present." A quorum was present." Mr. A. Ricardo Perry, Vice
President for student affairs welcomed the Task Force on behalf of Morgan
State University." The Chairman noted that the Sub-Committee on
Characteristic Behaviors was working on the list of behaviors that it deemed
characteristic of group activities that can cause problems with students." A
discussion ensued as to whether the proceedings of the Subcommittee could be
conducted by e-mail, facsimile or telephone amongst the Subcommittee
The open forum session was held as usual." Dan Fefferman, Esq.; Mr. Alex
Colvin, previously identified; Prof. Denny Gulick, previously identified;
Mr. David Clark, National Refocus Board Member; Dr. William Taft Stuart,
previously identified; Mr. Ronald Loomis, previously identified; and Nick
Miller, Esq., Council of Religious Freedom, addressed the Task Force." Their
testimony was also recorded and is available for review as stated.
Further discussions ensued concerning the Subcommittee on Characteristic
Behaviors." It was agreed that the Subcommittee will be unable To conclude
its work prior to the July 27, 1999 Task Force hearing." A motion was made,
seconded and approved that the Subcommittee would complete its work and turn
in its final work product no later than prior to the August 9, 1999 Task
Force meeting which will be held at the Lowe House Office Building, Room
318, Annapolis, Maryland." The Chairman appointed Ms. Rausch to chair all
proceedings of this Subcommittee and Mr. Kelley was appointed to chair a
special proceeding of this Subcommittee and it was agreed that public notice
would be provided in advance and all proceedings pertaining to this
Subcommittee would be recorded." All recordings are available for
It was also noted that there were only two remaining meetings scheduled
for the Task Force and that there may not be sufficient time within these
two meetings for the Task Force to complete its work by the legislatively
mandated deadline of September 30, 1999. Therefore, a motion was
made, seconded and approved that the Task Force meet for one additional
public session in the event the time is needed in order to complete its
It was finally noted that the questionnaires containing the Task Force's
Mission Statement, along with a letter from Chancellor Donald Langenberg,
had been delivered to the Presidents of the 13 USM institutions, St. Mary's
College and Morgan State University." The Presidents were requested to
distribute the questionnaires to chaplains, sociologists at campus
counseling centers." Residents Life staff, and Academic Advisors (both
faculty and professional advisors with whom students might spend time
discussing goals, aspirations, campus activities, etc.)." Chancellor
Langenberg requested that the Presidents review these questionnaires and
distribute them to the offices most well equipped to put them into the hands
of those able to respond directly to the questions posed." It was also
suggested that electronic distribution of the questionnaires might be the
simplest for of distribution and if any President and/or designee to respond
would prefer that means of communication, appropriate contact could be made
to Ms. Marionni at the Office of Academic Affairs at USM Headquarters."
Chancellor Langenberg noted the goal of the Task Force is to obtain as much
feedback/information as quickly as possible and it was requested that
responses be provided by the end of July, 1999.
Documents were submitted by the speakers." All documents and testimony
are available for review.
The Task Force was adjourned at 3:15 p.m. to reconvene July 27, 1999at
the Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis, Maryland.
The Task Force again convened on July 27, 1999, at the Lowe House Office
Building, Annapolis, Maryland." Present were Task Force members Hon. Charles
B. Saunders, Mr. Franz C. Wilson, Ms. Patricia Rausch, Mr. Eric P. Kafka,
Mr. Warren Kelley, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Mr. Andrew Rittler, and Chairman
William T. Wood." Also present was Ms. Maitland Dade, staff.
The Task Force then heard from Dr. James T. Richardson, Director, Master
of Judicial Studies Program, and Professor of Sociology and Judicial
Studies, University of Nevada-Reno; Professor Jeffrey K. Hadden, Department
of Sociology, University of Virginia; Dan Fefferman, Esq., previously
identified; Mr. Ronald N. Loomis, previous identified; Ms. Julie Brunder,
Mr. Leo J. Ryan, Educational Foundation; Mr. Les Baker, parent and former
International Church of Christ member; and Ms. Patricia Mielke, Director,
Resident Life, University of Maryland, College Park.
As is the usual practice of the Task Force, all proceedings were
recorded." The tapes are available for listening and/or copying.
The open forum session was held." Prof. Sidney Gulick, previous
identified; Douglas Jacoby, Esq., previous identified; Mr. Chris Reed,
International Church of Christ minister, Washington, D.C.; Ms. Julia Becker
Moore, International Church of Christ; Dr. William Stuart, previous
identified; Ms. Louise Beaugard Meyers, concerned citizen; Mr. David Clark,
Refocus board member, and Mr. Alex Colvin, previous identified, testified."
Their testimony was also recorded and is available for review as stated.
Documents were submitted by the speakers and are on file." All documents
and testimony are available for review.
A motion was made by the Chairman to close the record in these
proceedings no later than 12:00 p.m., August 9, 1999. The motion
was seconded and unanimously passed. It was further agreed that for the
morning session of August 9, 1999 priority would be given to unheard
witnesses but repetitive witnesses would not be excluded so long as their
testimony was relevant, material and not repetitious.
The Task Force was adjourned at approximately 4:00 pm to reconvene
Monday, August 9, 1999 at the Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis,
The Task Force again convened on August 9, 1999 at the Lowe House Office
Building, Annapolis, Maryland." Present were Task Force members Mr. Franz
Wilson, Ms. Patricia Rausch, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Ms.
Joan Marionni, Mr. Warren Kelley, and Mr. Eric P. Kafka." Also present was
Ms. Maitland Dade, staff to the Task Force." Sen. Ida Ruben was represented
by Ms. Charlotte Davis.
The Task Force then heard from Anuttama Dasa, Director of North America
Communications, International Society for Krishna Consciousness; Dr. Pritam
Singh Verma, Lt. Col. U.S. Army, and Assistant Professor, Howard University
and a member of the Hare Krishna in Montgomery County, Maryland; Dr. Richard
L. Rubenstein, President, University of Bridgeport and member of the
Unification Church; Jonathan Abady, Esq., Emery, Cuiti, Brinckerhoff and
Abady Law Firm, New York, New York; Dr. Karan Townsend, English Professor,
Washington Bible College, Washington, DC; Miss Hana Colvin student; Mr.
Michael Delp, former University of Maryland Student; and Prof. Gulick,
previous identified." In addition, the Task Force viewed a video tape
offered by Miss Steffie Rausch, a University of Maryland Park graduate.
Documents were submitted by the speakers." All of the testimony and
exhibits are available to be reviewed.
As earlier agreed, the Task Force closed the record to additional
testimony and exhibits." The Chairman then solicited comments from all Task
Force members as to their views of what process the Task Force should follow
to complete its mission." It was agreed that the Task Force would recess
early to consider the testimony and evidence and would reconvene the
following morning to attempt to arrive at a consensus based upon the
testimony and exhibits and, if appropriate, make recommendations to the
Governor and General Assembly of Maryland in accordance with JHR
22. The Task Force adjourned at approximately 2:15 p.m." The next
meeting was scheduled for the following morning.
The Task Force again convened on August 10, 1999 at USM Headquarters.
Present were Task Force members Mr. Warren Kelley, Mr. Andy Rittler, Ms.
Patricia Rausch, Hon. Charles B. Saunders, Dr. Eric P. Kafka, Mr. Franz
Wilson, Del. Sharon Grosfeld, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Ms. Joan Marionni, and the
Chairman." Ms. Charlotte Davis appeared for Sen. Ruben." Also present was
Ms. Maitland Dade, staff to the Task Force." The record was closed the
previous day and no testimony was taken." However, it was agreed that the
Task Force would complete its assignment in three phases; phase one-fact
finding; phase two-whether the facts justify recommendations; and phase
three-recommendations, if needed.
The Chairman then asked each Task Force member to express his or her
findings from the evidence and testimony of record." Mr. Kelley stated that
the complexity of the issues was great, that the mission statement adopted
by the Task Force requires demonstrable harm and that it is, and should be,
an individual's choice to decide if they are harmed or not." He said that it
is the interaction between groups and individuals that leads to the harm."
He did not feel the Task Force had sufficient information to define groups
or characteristic behaviors." Mr. Rittler stated that the facts are diluted,
that there is no real way for us to put our finger on facts, that harm to
the student should be the major crux of our concern, that a student has the
privilege to make an educated decision on his or her own, but that each
student needs sufficient background and knowledge to make an informed
decision." He suggested that the Task Force should recommend that students
be given information and then allowed to make their own decisions with
respect to group involvement." Ms. Rausch stated that the Chairman of the
Task Force was not appointed until April 5, 1999 and that by the time the
Task Force was formed and underway, students were away on vacation, the
questionnaires forwarded to the various institutions were incomplete because
students were not available, the testimony has demonstrated that problems
have been extremely harmful to students, and that there has been no
definition of the word "cult" which the Task Force should do.
Mr. Saunders stated that the complexity of the problem is enormous and
that this needs to be reflected in the Task Force report." He found that the
campus surveys resulting from the questionnaires forwarded to the various
USM institutions are very important and valid, the conclusions are easily
reached which are that very few University of Maryland students have
suffered serious problems." Only one or two or three or four serious
problems have turned up at UMCP and the Task Force must make it clear in its
report that there is no serious problem with destructive groups throughout
the University System, although there are individual heart breaking cases,
and therefore all institutions have a responsibility to make sure that the
staff interacting with students are sensitive to such problems." Mr.
Saunders offered the comparison that in the event of suicides, a very
infrequent but real occurrence, there would be quick reaction by the USM
institutions to such a tragic event." He stated that the Task Force has
evidence that counseling staff are not adequately trained to deal with
destructive groups, and that 80% of students, according to information
received by the Task Force, conclude that universities are not prepared to
deal with such problems." Mr. Saunders also stated that there is a clear
disconnect in that administrators and faculty are not aware of problems
students are having with destructive groups but that chaplains and resident
assistants say that it is happening all over some campuses." He added that
some students feel harassed and recommended that the campuses establish a
forum where campuses get together to share information on the problems
students are having with destructive groups and to look for solutions.
Ms. Marionni stated that there are a very small number of students being
affected, but it is extremely significant to the involved students when it
occurs as well as their parents." She stated that the university is the same
as the society at large and that nothing different is happening on campuses
than is happening in society." She stated that USM does not do enough to
encourage students to stay in touch with their families and she recommended
against creation of a list of characteristic behaviors.
Mr. Kafka stated that problems do happen, according to the testimony, but
the number of problems are very small." He felt that polarization is a world
wide phenomena and that the Task Force cannot judge the truth of individual
complaints." He added that chaplains seem to be the best single source of
information on this topic." He recommended that there be a central resource
to receive complaints.
Mr. Wilson stated that he has had eighteen years experience with such
related problems, that the Task Force may be designed in part to protect the
USM and that it is a mistake to back off the use of the word "cult".
Del. Grosfeld testified that, to the people who are affected by such
activity, it is a "problem" and that the Task Force should be very careful
in its use of the term "problem" because I fan event affects a very small
number of people, it is still a "problem" for the people so affected. " She
stated that it is important to recognize that timing is a challenge for the
Task Force since the students are off for the summer and that it is
unrealistic for an in-depth analysis not to extend the term of the Task
Charlotte Davis stated on behalf of Senator Ruben that the Senator would
like a list of characteristics produced by the Task Force and would like an
additional meeting in September, 1999.*
Ms. Hopkins agreed that the number of incidents is small but that there
is a need to increase awareness of the problem on USM campuses." She stated
that if 10 students were raped, committed suicide, suffered drug overdoses,
etc., University staff would do something about it immediately." She also
stated that international students are particularly vulnerable.
The Chairman reviewed the testimony of numerous witnesses and concluded
by finding that the problem of destructive group activities was
statistically small on some campuses and non-existent on other campuses
included in the legislative mandate." He also found that there are intense
efforts by certain groups to recruit and/or proselytize on several campuses
which, in some instances have created serious problems for students,
parents, faculty and administration." The Chairman also indicated that this
was a very difficult problem to measure because much of the proselytizing
including recruitment and certain group activities are conducted in a covert
manner secretly and are not therefore easily discernible.
A motion was made, seconded and passed that there were sufficient
findings to justify recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly
in accordance with JHR 22. Therefore, the Chairman asked each Task Force
member to state his or her views on what recommendations should be included
in the Task Force report.
Mr. Kelley stated that educational awareness is the key and that some
groups create some harm at some time to some people. He felt, however, that
is difficult to get the right student at the right time with the right
information to help that student and that the Task Force should not
implement new programs lightly because of the potential impact on the
Mr. Rittler suggested that there be sign-in sheets in the dorms for all
The Task Force decided to meet on September 2, 1999. The Task Force
subsequently added two more days, September 9, 1999 and September 15,1999 to
Ms. Rausch stated that she liked the recommendations of Mr. Les Baker and
further would adopt the recommendations of Mr. Saunders.
Mr. Saunders submitted written recommendations and recommended adoption
of six of the specific recommendations of Mr. Les Baker. These
recommendations are: 1) commend the College Park administration for
developing an affective training program for Resident Assistants and ask
other institutions with reported problems to consider using its materials;
2) ask institutions to assess the training needs for campus security
personnel, help and counseling officers, and academic advisors to heighten
institutional awareness of potential problems of destructive groups. This
should involve a regular forum for advisors, counselors, and dormitory
residents and chaplains to exchange information" on student complaints about
outside groups; 4) parents and students should receive a concise description
of resources available on campus for students with problems, with office
titles and telephones; 5) the Office of Student Affairs should issue an
annual report on complaints received and actions taken, and 6) the Board of
Regents should review institutional policies for access to campuses from
outside groups to determine if they should be strengthened.
Ms. Marionni stated that the USM campuses, Morgan State University and
St. Mary's College should register all student groups and provide clear
guidelines for their interaction on campus and that off-campus groups should
beheld to the same standard.
Mr. Kafka stated that educational" awareness is appropriate, that USM
institutions provide education for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse,
etc., to assist students in making good choices, and that the same should be
done for destructive groups. He also felt that complaints should be
Mr. Wilson stated that there should be a program to coordinate between
all resource persons at the various campuses, that a protocol for violation
of the guidelines recommended by Mr. Kafka should be in place. Mr. Wilson
suggested that the Chairman's recommendations should also be made to the
Board of Regents.
Chairman Wood recommended that there be an increased level of education
for incoming students, that this education process continue for students
through their graduations, and that there be a resource in place for
students, parents, faculty, administration, and the campus police department
which face problems with destructive groups. He observed that each of the
State's public four-year campuses is unique and has different needs and
therefore there should be a committee of appropriate persons from each of
the institutions to evaluate with an expert what education programs and
resources would be appropriate for each institution. Here commended that a
reasonable deadline be established for each campus to accomplish this and
that there be a follow up to make sure that it is actually accomplished. He
finally recommended that there be an Oversight Committee to insure that the
agreed upon programs are implemented and maintained and that there should be
a program to ensure communications between chaplains, mental health
resources, student affairs, etc., so that all concerned persons and
departments are knowledgeable about events occurring on the respective
The Task Force discussed each of the findings and recommendations by each
of the Task Force members. The Chairman agreed to dictate the findings and
recommendations into a draft report to be considered at the next Task Force
The proceeding was recorded and the tape is available for review as
The Task Force again convened on September 2, 1999 at 10:00 am at USM
Headquarters. Present were Task Force members Ms. Patricia Rausch, Mr.
Andrew A. Rittler, Dr. Eric P. Kafka, Ms. Joan Marionni, Mr. Franz Wilson,
Mr. Warren Kelley, Ms. Nina Hopkins, Ms. Sowmya Murthy, Sen. Ida Ruben who
participated by speaker phone, and the Chairman. Also present were Ms.
Maitland Dade, Staff to the Task Force and Ms. Charlotte Davis, staff to
Minutes for the June 7, June 18, June 29 and July 14, 1999 meetings were
read and approved by the Task Force. The Chairman then distributed copies of
the draft Report, stamped "confidential", to each Task Force member. The
drafts were carefully reviewed by all attendees and a discussion ensued
where various changes, modifications and deletions were made to the draft
Summary and Report. It was unanimously agreed that the resulting work
product in draft form would be provided as earlier agreed to the Presidents
of each of the USM institutions, Morgan State University and St.Mary's
College on September 7, 1999 for their review and written comment. It was
further unanimously agreed that the Task Force would meet one last time on
September 9,1999 to consider the written comments made by the Presidents and
for the Task Force to complete its work, including approval of the final
proof of the Executive Summary and Report of the Task Force. The meeting was
adjourned at 6:30 pm. Tapes of this meeting are available for review.
The Task Force met for the last time on September 15, 1999 at USM
Headquarters. A quorum was present.
Minutes from the Task Force meetings of July 27, August 9, August 10,and
September 2, 1999 were read and approved. Additionally, the Task Force
reaffirmed the approval of all minutes of all Task Force meetings previously
approved for the record. The Chairman noted that the draft Report had been
presented, as agreed, to the USM Presidents at the Presidents Council
Meeting held on September 7, 1999 and to the Presidents of Morgan State
University and St. Mary's College. Comments from the Presidents were
reviewed and the Task Force again discussed and reviewed each of the
findings and recommendations in the draft Report. The Task Force then
unanimously adopted the following findings of fact and recommendations:
The Task Force held 11 public meetings, heard testimony from 56witnesses,
and received 91 exhibits. Meetings were held at the following locations:
University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland; USM Headquarters, Adelphi,
Maryland; Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland; Morgan State University,
Baltimore, Maryland; and the Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis,
Maryland. Additionally, the Task Force forwarded questionnaires to all of
the 13 USM institutions, Morgan State University and St. Mary's College.
These questionnaires were delivered directly to the Presidents who were
requested to distribute them to chaplains, psychologists at campus
counseling centers, Resident Life staff, and academic advisors (both faculty
and professional advisors with whom students might spend time discussing
goals, aspirations, campus activities, etc) and were distributed to all Task
Force members. Chancellor Langenberg asked the Presidents to review the
questionnaires and distribute them to other campus offices most well
equipped to respond directly to the questions posed. Responses were received
from all institutions and are a part of the record, except UMUC to which
this report is not applicable.
Assimilating such a vast amount of information was not an easy task.
However, as indicated above, the Task Force unanimously arrived at the below
stated findings of fact and recommendations." The Task Force recognizes,
however, that the subject matter is not easily measured since such group
activity is hidden many times from view and is surreptitiously conducted
outside the view of parents, faculty and administration.
Findings of Fact
1. The complexity of the problem is enormous, for example there is
conflict in terminology, many divergent views, constitutional issues, and in
some instances, the intervention can exacerbate the problem.
As indicated, there are approximately 300 groups registered on the UMCP
campus alone. There were 11,000 freshmen in the USM system during
the1998-1999 school year. Destructive group activities are not always open
and many times are covert. On large college campuses, it is difficult to
regulate and/or identify destructive behavior. UMCP has created a training
program, including reference materials, for its Resident Advisors who live
in the dormitories which is a nationally recognized model and has been
replicated by other colleges and universities. Expert testimony before the
Task Force has indicated that this is an outstanding program. There was
testimony before the Task Force that efforts to remove a student from a
group further alienated the student from the parents and created greater
stress on the student which interfered with the student's academic
achievement. Compounding the challenge are the constitutional rights
afforded every citizen, including students and groups.
2. The extent of group activities causing harm is statistically very
small when considering the enormous number of students attending USM
institutions, Morgan State University and St. Mary's College. This is based
upon a wide range of group activities causing harm reported from these
institutions varying from no problems to some problems. However, when
interaction with a group causes harm to a student, that harm can be very
During the period 1989-1998 there were 604,106 student enrollments in the
University of Maryland system. The average age of first time incoming
freshmen in the Fall of 1998, including full and part-time students was 18.8
years of age. During the same school year, 13students were 16 years of age
and 281 students were 17 years of age out of 11,000 incoming first time
freshmen in the system.
A professor of anthropology at UMCP testified that during his many years
employed at college Park, 20 or 25 students have come to him with problems
with destructive groups. A private citizen located in Baltimore, Maryland
who operated what was formally known as the Cult Awareness Network testified
that she operated a hot-line in the Baltimore area from approximately
1993-1997 to help people who did not know where to go for needed assistance
or who were fearful of cults. She testified she received during this period
of time 23 telephone calls from UMCP, 11telephone calls from Towson
University involving six groups, two telephone calls from University of
Maryland, Baltimore involving two groups and one call from Morgan State
University as well as calls from other students at other non-USM
institutions. She said that some of these calls were from parents who did
not know where to go for help. A Lutheran chaplain at UMCP employed there
for 34 years testified that three to four chaplains have had four to six
contacts during the 1998-1999 academic year at UMCP out of10 full time and
six part-time chaplains at UMCP. A professor of mathematics at UMCP
testified that 50-100 students at UMCP are involved with destructive groups
but no one knows the extent of the problem. The director of the counseling
center at Bowie State University testified that there were no reported cult
activities in residence halls, none in police reports for the last ten years
and no reported activities related to cult activities out of 1,600 student
contacts by counseling and student development activities. An attorney, who
has been representing persons deeply involved with destructive cults and is
president of the American Family Foundation, testified that there is a
problem at every university campus with destructive groups. A particularly
meaningful resource was a minister of a Lutheran church in Bowie, Maryland,
who counsels people with group behavior problems. He testified that he has
counseled approximately 80 people in the last 10 years of which
approximately 30% were from USM campuses. This translates to 28 students
counseled in this 10 year period. He then stated that12% were sexual abuse
victims, 35% percent shepherding/disciplining variety and 12% psycho
A careful reading of all of the responses to the questionnaires received
by the above noted institutions, together with the testimony, clearly reveal
the group activities causing harm are statistically very small but that
there are isolated events that are very distressing. For example, a former
student from a foreign country was admitted to UMCP in 1995 in its honors
program with a triple major in marketing, business and transportation. He
was awarded a full scholarship which required maintaining a3.0 or better
average. Both his mother and father were deceased. He had two siblings in
his homeland to support so he also maintained a part-time job in the
District of Columbia working for the Federal Government. He sent money home
every pay period. In1996, he met a non-student who set up a meeting first on
campus and then meetings off campus with a group who tried to take over his
life." He did not want to identify the group out of fear. His grades dropped
from a 4.0 GPA during his freshmen year to a 2.1GPA. He tried to exit the
group but they put so much pressure on him that he developed severe
psychological distress. His grades dropped to 1.4. His cause captured the
attention of the administration at UMCP and they helped him because they
recognized that he was being victimized through no fault of his own. He was
permitted to retain his scholarship notwithstanding his drop in grades. He
ultimately graduated, is leading a successful and productive life, and is an
ardent testifier as to the problems a group can cause to a vulnerable
student. Another former student from Bowie State College said that she was
raised in a cult, was approached but not recruited at Bowie State and that
she knew enough not to get involved because she was educated about cults.
Another female student testified that her involvement in a cult was
beneficial to her and she continued to be a member.
A careful reading of the questionnaire responses received from the
institutions noted above reveal that groups are recruiting on a regular
basis throughout the USM campuses and that those that appear unusual or
destructive in nature are generally rejected by the student right away. The
institution employees who are in direct contact with the students, i.e.,
resident advisors in the dormitories, chaplains, counseling personnel, etc.,
are the best resource for reported information.
At UMCP the recruitment efforts seem to primarily take place at the Stamp
Student Union, the libraries and on the McKeldin Mall. Coppin State College
reports no problems. Frost burg State University reports that one group in
particular has an impact" & sufficient enough & to warrant concern
& ". A chaplain reports that over100 students are members of this
particular group. Recruitment by this group seems to focus in the dining
hall and the freshman dormitories. There appear to be four to five
incidents/year that are of sufficient concern that a student reports it as a
problem. A student counselor reported that fraternities and sororities at
Frost burg have created problems.
At UMBC, a psychologist reported one problem in five years from a student
who felt pressure by a religious groups to conform to their life style.
There were no reported incidents at the University of Maryland Eastern
Shore other than a Director of Career Services testified that approximately
eight years ago, there was cult activity on campus associated with some
activity in a neighboring community but the activity was short lived and
there has been no others to his knowledge.
There are no reported incidents at the University of Maryland, Baltimore,
including the schools of medicine, dental, nursing, pharmacy, social work,
law and the graduate school as well as from the campus counseling and
student affair office. Of course, none of these institutions have resident
students in dormitories, nor does UMUC.
There were no reported incidents at Bowie State University or St.Mary's
College. The University of Baltimore reported no known "cult activities".
Morgan State University reported several counselors counseled approximately
11 students, over a five year period, who had experienced problems with
groups ranging from excessive pressure to join, excessive pressure
(including threats) not to exit the groups, excessive focus on certain
lifestyles as "sinful" and a group misrepresenting its intentions.
A Catholic Chaplain at Towson University reports that "TU has always been
the target for cults." He reports one incident in the 1998-1999 academic
year involving a female freshman. This chaplain testified that cult activity
has waxed and waned on and off over his 20 years at the campus and during
particularly intense times, he would encounter 20-30 students affected by
these groups in one academic year. At slower times there would be zero to
one as indicated for academic year 1998-1999. He observed that the degree of
these problems are mostly annoyance or mild harassment resulting form the
lack of students ability to say "no". Some of these groups have been very
aggressive recently. Another Episcopal chaplain at TU reported four groups
were active on TU's campus. One group would mislead students to think a
meeting was crusade study group when in reality it was a recruitment
effort." This chaplain related a conversation with a father of a young
woman, formerly a TU student, who was subsumed by a group which operated on
the TU campus for about four years and is now gone. She dropped out of
school after her grades fell drastically and moved to their compound in the
State of Georgia. Her father went to see her but was not allowed to meet
with her alone and then only for a few minutes. He was then denied any
further meetings with her. This chaplain also testified that she had been
"incorporated" into another group. One student had been encouraged to move
out of her home(she was a commuter) into an apartment that the group rented.
The apartment was shared by "three neophytes and one overseer". This young
student was increasingly cut off from her family and experienced significant
problems. Another group at TU repeatedly tried to get this chaplain and
others to participate in forums, breakfasts, retreats and conferences
sponsored by this organization. This chaplain stated that this group
frequently changed its name and never clearly identified its sponsors. This
chaplain stated that there are many stories like these and that this is only
the tip of the iceberg.
A Salisbury State University psychologist reported 0-1 students
experiencing problems associated with group activities over the past 5
years. One academic advisor from Salisbury State reported that attention
needs to be given to the issue of cults in public high schools because there
appears to be growing cult activity there.
3. There are a wide variety of groups involved on USM campuses, Morgan
State University and St. Mary's College. Recruitment and approaches by all
types of groups are a common place occurrence.
One of the difficulties in assessing problems caused by groups is the
wide variety of groups involved on USM campuses, Morgan State University and
St.Mary's College. For example, there are over 300 registered student groups
At UMCP. UMCP policy requires that student groups must register in order to
use campus facilities. This is supervised by the Campus Activities Office. A
student can develop problems participating in legitimate recognized groups
as well as with dangerous or unsavory groups. Problems can be incurred
within a group if a student loses perspective and becomes too involved in
any group to the detriment of his or her academic and/or student life. As
indicated in Paragraph 1 above, recruitment and approaches occur on a
regular basis, more so on the UMCP, Frost burg and TU campuses. Most
students are able to resolve issues presented but a very limited few are
4. Group activities can escalate into a problem, for example,
recruitment can lead to inappropriate immersion into a group.
As stated in paragraph one above, there are heartbreaking examples of
students suffering needlessly from participating in group activities. The
incidences reported are isolated but, nonetheless, a major problem to the
students and parents.
5. Constitutional issues are extremely important, including freedom of
religion, speech and assembly.
The Task Force received testimony from several lawyers and academicians
with expertise in the constitutional freedoms. See page eight of this report
for a brief discussion of several U.S. Supreme Court cases that are pivotal
on this issue.
6. The level of group activities on campus is known to students but is
known to a much lesser degree by administrators.
It has been consistent throughout the testimony that the individuals on
the specified campuses dealing directly with the students, such as
psychologists, chaplains, and resident advisors, know about the nature and
extent of problems created by groups and that the information does not find
its way to the administration of the various campuses. One reason for the
lack of information on the part of higher administration officials is due to
the fact that the problems experienced from the students do not rise to this
level due, for example, to chaplains' independence which results from
clerical privileges and confidences. It also does not rise up the chain of
command in many instances because there is no mechanism for this to
7. Resources on the campuses are not always fully prepared or known to
students or parents.
A Lutheran chaplain at UMCP testified that many times parents are
confused and do not understand what is happening to their child. This
chaplain indicated that she recently met with counselors at UMCP on this
subject, and that there is enough of a concern that they are going to get
together to find a way to deal with this problem. The chaplain stated that
parents need to know where to go for help and that the chaplains generally
are not the best resource but mental health professionals are. The chaplain
also stated that neither the chaplains nor the mental health professionals
have training to deal with cult related problems and added that the "Friends
are Everywhere" booklet provided to students at UMCP (on file with the Task
Force exhibits) is an excellent resource but only one of many pieces that
are necessary to deal with this problem." The chaplain added that the
"helping components" at UMCP are not communicating well and there needs to
be a mechanism to promote better communication. This testimony supported the
suggestion that when a phone on campus rings with a student or parent having
a cult related problem there needs to be a place for that individual to call
that is a knowledgeable resource who will get involved and provide the
necessary help. A mathematics professor at UMCP testified that cults have a
hidden agenda which requires special training." A student at UMCP testified
that he could not find a resource that could help him and that he needed
someone to help him "get his confidence back". A Vice President of Student
Affairs at UMCP testified that UMCP is under no illusions that College Park
has the best" and final solution and that his campus is open to suggestions.
This witness added that chaplains are not connected in the line of hierarchy
within the administration and their information is not communicated to the
administration." Just about everyone testifying indicated that resource
persons for parents and students are critical and that they need to be
8. Education is the most promising solution to prevent harm to
Uniformly, the experts in the fields that deal with these problems"
indicate that education of the student is the solution to prevention. There
are experts in the field that have developed models for institutions to
follow to provide education to incoming freshmen through to graduation.
1. Commend the University of Maryland, College Park administration for
developing an effective training program for Resident Assistants and
recommend that other institutions with reported problems consider using its
program and materials as a model.
2. Require USM institutions, Morgan State University and St.Mary's
College to assess the training needed for heightened awareness of potential
problems of destructive groups. Each institution should have the
responsibility and the authority to determine the definition of harm
relevant to the activities of such groups. The Task Force wishes to emphasis
that this recommendation is for each institution to assess its training
needs. There should also be a regular forum for interested members of each
campus community (advisors, counselors, residential staff and chaplains,
etc.) to exchange information relating to student complaints about outside
groups for those institutions where there are such complaints.
3. Policies for Resident Assistants and campus professionals regarding
the recruitment of students and the consequences for violations of said
policies should be clear. A summary of Resident Assistants responsibilities
should be posted in dormitories together with a mechanism for reporting
4. Each institution should create and maintain a concise description of
resources with office titles and telephone numbers and make them widely
known and available on campus for students with problems regarding
interaction with groups.
5. Provide a central resource on each USM campus, Morgan State University
and St. Mary. s College to accumulate complaints concerning group activities
or actions and make the information available to students, parents, faculty
and administration. Groups who are identified in such complaints should be
named and clearly identified so concerned persons may evaluate the
complaints themselves following their own individual standards. The entire
program should be evaluated to insure compliance with all applicable laws
and institution policies. The Attorney General. s Office should provide
general guidance and be consulted on specific applications of this
6. On each campus, the Office of Student Affairs, or its equivalent,
should issue an annual report documenting complaints received and actions
taken, if any, taking into consideration the information received from these
central resources. This report should be in the form of a summary of the
number and nature of complaints and the reader referred to the central
resource for remaining information available. The Attorney General. s Office
should provide general guidance and be consulted on specific applications of
7. The Board of Regents and governing boards of Morgan State University
and St. Mary. s College should review institutional policies dealing with
access to campuses from outside groups to determine if they should be
8. Require registration and clear guidelines for any and all groups not
sponsored by an institutional agency or program coming onto campus involving
themselves with students at USM institutions, Morgan State University and
St.Mary. s College.
9. Create an educational program for incoming students and ongoing
education programs thereafter through graduation as necessary to assist
students in assessing their decisions whether to join groups and how to
recognize destructive behavior that may be affecting them. In connection
with this recommendation, the Task Force wishes to help students make
informed choices in their decisions to participate in groups or activities.
In the review of available literature, the following list of behavior
characteristics were found to be often repeated. The Task Force cannot speak
to the validity of these characteristics. They are simply offered as
suggestion an individual may wish to keep in mind when considering
involvement with a group. Theses characteristics are: Deception, Isolation
and Alienation from Family, Time Commitment, Financial Commitment,
Elimination of Competing Pursuits and Priorities, Manipulation, Harassment,
Abandon Educational and/or Career Goals, Surrender of Personal Authority,
Absolute Obedience to Leaders, Retention Techniques, Physical and/ or
Emotional Abuse, Exploitation, and Blackmail.
10. Require that each institution assess its own resources to satisfy
these recommendations and to seek outside expertise on how to implement
these recommendations where necessary.
11. Request that the Board of Regents of the University System of
Maryland and the governing boards of Morgan State University and St. Mary. s
College each establish a policy to follow up to ensure that these
recommendations are implemented and periodically monitored for compliance.
This policy should include the establishment of one advisory committee for
these institutions to verify compliance with these recommendations. The
Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland and the governing
boards of Morgan State University and St. Mary. s College shall appoint this
advisory committee and every effort should be made to appoint persons who
have knowledge of the subject matter. This advisory committee should not
attempt to direct or control institutional compliance, but instead, should
advise each institution of any departures from these recommendations and,
where necessary, communicate such concerns to the institution. s governing
It is noted that the Task Force unanimously agreed to forward this Report
as directed by JHR 22. These findings and recommendations are made with the
hope that they will be helpful to USM institutions, St. Mary. s College and
Morgan State University, will result in programs that will be meaningful in
preventing harm from destructive group behavior and will provide a resource
for students, parents, faculty and administration in the event a student
should need professional assistance with dealing with problems created by
any form or type of group involvement.
William T. Wood, Esq.