Bias-Related Reporting Process and Bias Education Response and Support Team (B.E.R.S.T.)
The previous Student or Incident of Concern Report process was created and implemented in the summer of 2019 to provide a resource for the community to share information about student behavior that is concerning but does not rise to the level of an imminent threat to health or safety. A reporter could stay anonymous or include their name and contact information. Individuals who have knowledge about a member of the Community who is in any way a threat to self or others were instructed to notify the Department of Campus Safety immediately.
The dean of students received all reports (approximately 3-5/month) via email and determined the appropriate response to the information that may have included:
- Directing the information to a specific office for their attention
- Directing the information to the Student Outreach Network, a cross-divisional student support team, who determines how to address the situation.
- If bias-related, directing the information to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for follow-up and/or the Department of Campus Safety who conducts an investigation.
- If student-conduct related, referring the report to the Associate Dean of Students for student conduct process follow-up
- If crime-related, referring the report to the Department of Campus Safety for investigation
- If employee-related, referring the information to the Office of Human Resources
Limitation of the previous process:
- All concerns, including bias-related incidents, were channeled through the Dean of Students rather than a wider circle of individuals.
- The current Student or Incident of Concern Report title did not clearly convey that the reporting process was meant for bias-related incidents and a separate reporting form would be more visible to the campus community.
- The definition of bias did not appear in the current Student or Incident of Concern Report or other policy documents.
- The current process was situational, rather than educational, meaning there was typically no conversation about how an instance might trigger a broader educational plan.
- There was no annual review of aggregated reports to identify emergent themes related to the reported bias-related incidents on the campus.
- While hate crimes and sexual offenses are reported in the Annual Safety Report (Clery Act Report) which is public, bias-related incidents were not tracked uniformly or reported.
- There was no clear mechanism to notify the Community about anonymous complainants or how they are addressed.
- The current Student or Incident of Concern Report process was not widely promoted to faculty, staff and students as the vehicle specifically to report incidents of bias. This process is necessary to transition from being a non-racist community to an actively anti-racist community.
Definition of a Bias-related Incident
A Bias-related incident is an act or behavior (verbal, nonverbal, or written) towards a person or a group of people based on a bias against the presumed or actual race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, religious/spiritual beliefs, age, disability and sexual orientation of the person or group of people being targeted. Bias incidents are not considered or rise to the level of a criminal offense.
- Examples of Bias Incidents: (Taken from Syracuse University)
- Telling jokes based on a stereotype
- Racist or derogatory graffiti or images/drawings
- Calling a person or a behavior “gay” as an insult
- Using a racial, ethnic, or other slur to identify someone
- Making a joke about someone being deaf, hard of hearing, blind, etc.
- Imitating someone with any kind of disability, or imitating someone’s cultural norm or practice
- Making comments on social media about someone’s disability, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs
Hate Crimes are bias-related incidents of crime that manifest evidence that the victim was chosen based on one of the categories of bias including race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin and disability. While all hate crimes are bias-related incidents, not all bias-related incidents are hate crimes.
This new report form is modeled on the Student or Incident of Concern Report, to be used for the community to report bias-related incidents involving faculty, staff and students at McDaniel. The distinct reporting system will be publicized to the campus community and lend visibility that reflects the importance that the College places on knowing about and responding to the incidents of bias on the campus.
Responding to a Report
Student, faculty, staff, community members and visitors will be urged to report any bias-related incident to the College either in person or through a newly created Bias-Related Incident online report form. People will be able to report a bias-related incident anonymously or they may self-identify. The submitter will be notified that if a report is received anonymously, it may impact the College’s ability to investigate and respond fully to the incident.
All reports submitted online will be received by the Dean of Students, Dean of the Faculty, and Director of Human Resources. Upon review of a report, the three named individuals will determine the appropriate group or college process to respond to the information received.
Incidences of reported bias and the steps taken in response will be shared with the Bias Education Response and Support team in redacted form, ensuring appropriate anonymity of individuals involved.
Bias Education Response and Support Team (B.E.R.S.T)
The Director of the Office of Diversity and inclusion serves as chair for this team. The committee will be comprised of one representative from the following offices:
- Human Resources
- Wellness Center
- Academic Life
- Residence Life
Additionally, the committee will include:
- One faculty representative from the Faculty Inclusion and Diversity Committee (FIDC)
- One Athletic Department representative (who is not already on the SON)
- Two students appointed from the Cultural Leadership Council (CLC)
Primary Functions of the BERST Team
- Educate the campus about the existence of the BERST and the bias incident reporting process.
- Serve as a resource for community members who may prefer to report a bias-related incident or concern outside the traditional channels.
- Receive information through the online bias incident reporting process in order to identify emergent or reoccurring themes, determine educational strategies, programming and/or training for a targeted audience or the entire campus in response to the information patterns.
- Engage community members in education, dialogue, and awareness to foster a learning, working, and living community free from hate, discrimination, harassment, and intolerance.
- Develop a system for providing the campus information about the reports received for the purpose of imparting trust that the submitted information is addressed appropriately and in a timely manner.
- Assist in implementation of a coordinated and appropriate community response (engaging partners as needed) and communicate with the community as appropriate.
- Create an annual report to be shared with the board-level DEI taskforce.
Additional information regarding the BERST
- If a community member brings a concern directly to a BERST member the individual will be encouraged to document the concern using the bias-related incident reporting process. If the community member is unwilling to do this, the BERST member will share the information with the Chair who will consult with one or more of the Dean of Students/Director of Human Resources/Dean of Faculty to determine if and how to proceed from there.
- If the nature of the information relates to a situation that involves a responsibility to report on the part any involved individual the situation will be handled appropriately with the utmost sensitivity to those involved.
- BERST Members are not responsible nor authorized to directly address concerns with individual community members or groups. If warranted, this type of response will occur using one of the avenues outlined in the Responding to a Report section above.
- Requests for specific BERST programming may be made to the Chair of the team, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
- Framingham State University:https://www.framingham.edu/the-fsu-difference/inclusive-excellence/bias-education-response-team/shared-language/
- Stonehill College:https://www.stonehill.edu/offices-and-services/intercultural-affairs/bias-incident-protocol-team/
- Syracuse University: https://www.syracuse.edu/life/accessibility-diversity/stop-bias/