Bias Reporting and Support Initiative

The following message was sent to the campus community on Oct. 5, 2020.

I write to announce the rollout of a Bias Response Reporting and Support initiative, an action item that the College’s leadership committed to in our June 30 pledge to become an actively anti-racist campus.

It is a regrettable reality that many students and employees experience language or behavior from others spurred by bias against them because of individual features or group membership — real or perceived. Those include, but are not limited to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, creed, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, body size, disability, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, veteran status, ex-offender status and/or socioeconomic status. Please see below for matters reported under our Title IX processes.

Whether acts of bias are intentional or accidental, they are not consistent with our values of inclusion, our sense of community, and our goal of creating a learning and working environment where every individual is welcomed and given full opportunity to succeed and thrive. While we would like to prevent any and all such acts, we can respond to acts of bias by supporting the individual who has been impacted, and where possible to educate members of our community to reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses.

There has been, for some time, informal networks to report concerns or experiences and individuals on campus who have responded, however, we know of many others who do not come forward. We want to be sure that the entire community is aware of a process through which such experiences can be reported and individuals can receive support or redress and those responsible can better understand the impact of their words or actions on others.

The Bias Response Team

To launch this initiative, the response and support team will be coordinated through the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer and will include representatives from Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. These individuals are often key resources in resolving concerns about climate and have experience in trauma-informed practices. The team will be a coordinating body and will include existing College resources in addressing reported concerns. The response team does not have purview over the creation of new policies or rules; rather, it will work within existing College rules and policies and may propose new policies or practices to the leadership of the College for appropriate consideration, review and/or implementation. In addition, the response team will consult with individuals or departments that may be brought in to assist on matters raised through this reporting process.

We plan to expand our network of individuals to include more BIPOC members and allies within our campus community who can serve as resources toward both prevention of and response to bias experiences. The initial team members are:

  • Tanhena Pacheco Dunn- Chief Diversity Officer
  • Emma Morcone Title IX/LGBTQ+ Coordinator
  • Dr. Gweneth Lloyd, Director of Psychological Counsel Center (Student Affairs)
  • Robin Cohen La Valle, Assistant Vice President & Dean of Students (Student Affairs)
  • Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, Associate Provost (Academic Affairs)
  • Deb Gould, Assistant Provost (Academic Affairs)

What Is Bias?

The term ‘bias related’ refers to language and/or behaviors which demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, others’ actual or perceived: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, creed, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, body size, disability, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, veteran status, ex-offender status and/or socioeconomic status.

Reports that fall under Title IX including sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, sexual assault, and gender expression, gender identity, as well as domestic and interpersonal violence should be reported through the Title IX reporting process as explained here.

Reporting or Seeking Support

If you experience an incident of bias on or off campus, you can notify the bias response network using our Bias Reporting Form.

Upon receipt of a report, the response team will consult to determine the person(s) who would be best positioned to address the concern reported. Members of the team will serve as points of contact for the reporting individual, review reports for trends or patterns and make recommendations about follow-up, services, educational or intervention measures available at the campus. Where appropriate or applicable the College would report to state or other external constituencies.

Here are some important pieces to note:

  • We encourage students and employees to complete this form to report concerns and incidents related to bias. The College takes all reports seriously, however, our ability to take action on anonymous reports, depending on the information that is shared, may be limited.
  • We acknowledge and respect that when bias is perpetrated, emotional and physical harm occurs. To the degree possible, we balance and inform our response to these matters through the lens of the individual(s) impacted.  We will respect the individual’s perspective and where possible honor their choices in identifying appropriate redress and scope of support measures.
  • Each report will be reviewed, and member(s) of a response team will be assigned to provide initial intake and offer support and resources as appropriate.
  • We understand that there may be hesitation to report bias while under the supervision of an individual you are reporting or while still a student in a class or program where bias has occurred.  We will work with reporting individuals on the best course of action for their specific experience.

As with any new initiative, we know that it will take time for the community to become aware of and trust in a new protocol but we ask students and staff to help those who are impacted by bias experiences to come forward. While the need to bring these experiences out of the shadows is critical to making meaningful change, the most important element is to ensure that an individual receive support so that they can heal be successful and feel connected to our campus community.

Tanhena Pacheco Dunn
Chief Diversity Officer