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The bias related incident report system at work

by Alexandra Weaver - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Sep 12th 2017 11:00 pm

The students at the College at Brockport received a mass email from Cephas Archie, P.h.D., the college’s newley-appointed chief diversity officer. The email vaguely detailed a bias incident that had occurred within only the first week of school.

According to University Police Chief, Daniel Vasile, the “suspicious condition” included in the Campus Blotter in last week’s edition of The Stylus actually referred to the bias report. Vasile said that the incident involved a culturally-insensitive Snapchat story.

In some ways, the campus is still healing from an incident that occurred last year.  The Stylus reporter Kiara Alfonseca covered this incident in an article entitled “Racist threat found in Gordon Hall.” The event involved racist graffiti that was left on a student of color’s white board.

This event served to remind many Brockport students that racist sentiments still linger in American society. Brockport’s administration launched an investigation, which turned federal, in an attempt to discover who had left the racial threat and punish them accordingly. The investigation turned up fruitless, as there was little evidence to go off of.

In an attempt to bring students back together, the administration created a campus pledge in support of diversity and equality.

Though the graffiti incident was not completely resolved, it did motivate the administration to come up with a formal process for dealing with bias-related incidents. Vice President Provost of Academic Affairs Eileen Daniel confirmed that the bias related incident reporting process was created in response to the racial graffiti incident.

President Heidi Macpherson personally assigned Milo Obourn, Ph.D., with creating the process.

 This most recent incident, which Archie says can not be disclosed in detail due to privacy laws, was the most highly publicized incident that went through the college’s newly instated bias related incident reporting process.

An investigation into the incident was conducted, all persons involved in the incident were identified, and will be held accountable for their actions. Student Conduct and University Police were able to complete the process within 48 hours. Arhie says the details of how those individuals were punished and their identities are not available to the public. Due to privacy, these laws mainly exist to prevent the individual who reported the incident from being retaliated against and effectively victimizedwice. The bias related incident reporting process has been quietly operating throughout the last year.

According to a flowchart from the official Bias response coordinators team binder, the process begins when a bias-related incident is reported through Maxient, an online system which allows for the quickest reaction possible. Bias-related incidents are defined by Dr. Archie’s original email as “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, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, medical condition, body size, disability, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, veteran status, domestic violence victim status and/or socioeconomic status.”

Claims will be investigated regardless of whether the incident was a microaggression or a more overt or severe form of discrimination, including sexual assault. It is also possible to make anonymous reports.

The BCRT then meets to determine what action will be taken and incorporates the appropriate offices into the investigation. The Chief Diversity Officer, Student Conduct, Human Resources, the Office of Students with Disabilities, University Police, Office of Community Engagement and whichever other administrative officials who may be appropriate all have the potential to get involved in the investigation, depending on the nature of the bias-related incident. The report is then recorded in a database. If applicable, community education efforts will be taken.

The database has been collecting and sorting information about all of the bias-related incidents that have been reported since its creation last year. In about 90 days, statistics about the different types of bias-related incidents that have been reported in the past academic year. Once those statistics are available and have been analyzed, Dr. Archie plans on releasing them to the public, preferably online. He believes that it is important for the school to be as transparent about these issues as it is about other crimes.Though the system has proven to be effective, there are still some aspects that could be improved. It currently takes about five clicks on Brockport’s website to get to the form that is needed to file an incident report (One of the easiest ways is to go to brockport.edu, hover over “About,” click “Diversity,” then click on “Resources” on the left hand sidebar, click on “Campus Support and Reporting” and then scroll down to the table labeled “Campus Reporting Locations” the link labeled “Online Reporting Form” in the second to last column leads to the bias-related incident form). Archie would like to see it take no more than three clicks for people to navigate to the form.

“That is unacceptable. It must be more accessible,” Archie said.

Though the campus is still scarred in a way by last year’s incident, it did motivate the administration to set up a system that students can use when they experience any form of discrimination.The bias related incident reporting process has proven itself effective.   

Having a system in place makes it quicker and easier for the administration to react to bias-related incidents, and the data that has been and is still being collected will provide the administration and students alike with valuable information. This information will likely be used to structure future diversity and outreach programs. The first step to fixing a problem is to know what that problem is, and that is what one of the functions of the bias related incident reporting process.


*Additional reporting by Tori Martinez




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