It can be extremely daunting to cope with an incident of discrimination or bias, especially when the resources available to you are limited. Over the summer, conversations were sparked across the country about the safety and well-being of BIPOC on college campuses and other educational spaces.
As a response, Whittier College announced their anti-racist platform and described reform that aims to shift the way the College handles topics of race both within and outside of the classroom. The main component of their plan that aims to make the Whittier community safer for more diverse identities is the introduction of the Bias Incident Report, which will allow students and other individuals in the College community to report incidents of bias that occur on campus.
If you are wondering how to submit a Bias Incident Report, or are curious in how reports are treated, allow us to break it down for you.
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an action by a perpetrator that is perceived to be motivated by a bias against an identity. This can include an “offender’s bias against an actual or perceived aspect of diversity, including, but not limited to, age, ancestry or ethnicity, color, creed, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, height, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or weight,” said Associate Dean for Student Life Deanna Merino Contino, Ed.D.
This summer, the community Instagram account @BlackAtWhittier brought to light specific examples of these incidents that opened conversation about a variety of harmful bias incidents that have taken place across Whittier’s campus and organizations. The account began posting anonymous stories that discussed the experiences of Black Whittier College students on June 24. The goal of introducing the Bias Incident Report form on the Whittier College website is to allow for students to confidentially report harmful experiences, like those posted on social media, from within the community.
How to submit a report
How do you go about submitting a report if you witness or are a victim of a bias incident? First, you’ll want to visit whittier.edu/policies/biasincident, where there is a link to the form.
The form can be submitted either anonymously or with your full personal information if you wish to be contacted by a report team member to provide additional support. You can also submit a bias incident report in person, with the contacts of the members of the Bias Incident Report team found on the form. The team was chosen in order to represent organizations across campus. “There is representation and collaboration from staff and faculty in Student Life (includes Dean of Students, Title IX, and Office of Equity and Inclusion), Academic Affairs, and Athletics,” according to Dean Contino.
There are written free-response and multiple choice questions that are required to submit the form. Free-response sections ask you to provide as much information as you can about how many individuals were involved in the incident, whether a specific group was targeted, provide descriptions of the perpetrator(s), and describe what happened “in as much detail as you can, including times, locations, number and names of witnesses, targeted students/victims or groups and what makes you believe the incident was bias motivated.” Multiple choice questions include your relationship to the incident, what group(s) were targeted, and in what form the action was taken.
Those submitting the report can identify, in addition to a follow-up, identify whether or not they wish to be contacted about educational resources or other psychological resources. “Any student, staff, and/or faculty [member] who has been a victim is provided care and resources,” said Dean Contino.
What happens after you report?
Once you submit your report, the information you provide stays confidential. A member of the Bias Incident Report team will review the report within 48 business hours “depending on the level of the referral received,” according to Dean Contino. Business hours for the Bias Incident Report team are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. “If the referral is severe and occurs outside of the business hours, please call Campus Safety. If the referral needs immediate action, Campus Safety will contact the Dean on Call, who will then consult with the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students.” Campus Safety can be reached at their main line, 562.907.4211, or at their emergency line, 562.907.4911.
If the incident that is reported violates the Whittier College Sexual Misconduct Policy, or falls under a Title IX case, the case will be referred to Title IX Coordinator, Lafayette Baker.
Has the Bias Incident Report been successful?
While it is too early to judge whether the Bias Incident Report has been successful for the Whittier College community, the system was designed based on successful organizations. “The Bias Response Team researched other colleges and universities to understand their referral process and what education and resources are provided to the campus community,” said Dean Contino.
The goal of forming a response team and a system that is to build “an environment and community where folks treat each other well [to] prevent actions that are harmful,” according to Dean Smith. The Quaker Campus plans to follow up with the Bias Report team and students across the community throughout the educational year to report how effective this system is at providing an environment that is safe and inclusive to support the diversity within the student body, faculty, and staff.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Whittier College