The Bias Incident Report Team has reported three separate bias incidents on campus in the last week.
The incident announced on Sept. 26, which occurred on Sept. 25, involved slurs written on a student’s car in the Evergreen Hall parking lot.
The same night, a homophobic slur was keyed into the hood of a student’s car in the Evergreen Hall parking lot, but that incident was not reported until Oct. 1 and announced to the university community on Oct. 2.
The incident occurring on Oct. 1 involved a racial slur being written on a piece of paper and attached to the license plate of a car in parking lot 12.
Jeffrey Waple, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and chair of the Bias Incident Response Team, is forming a group of the Bias Incident Response Team to analyze these incidents and educate students
“There is a piece of BIRT that is called the bias education team, and I am trying to get that group together. It’s representatives from a variety of departments. What I’m going to ask them to do is look at the incidents from last year, the ones from this year, look at patterns, and then try to determine what type of education and prevention we should do for campus,” Waple said.
With these cases, the first priority is reaching out to the victims.
“The first part of response is to respond to the victim or victims of an bias incident. So, in all three cases, all three cars at different times, a member of our team reached out to the individuals and said ‘Hey, tell us what happened, do you need help, do you need support,’ and that was something missing from last year — that initial reach from someone on the team,” Waple said.
In each case, victims were contacted to, but it’s not clear if they were the intended targets.
In one incident, is believed that it was just friends attempting a prank
Protocols set in place for the BIRT require them to alert students within 24 hours of receiving reports.
“The protocol says, once we’re aware [of a bias incident], there’s a 24-hour response to the students. In all three cases, the response was in just hours, so we’ve gotten better at that,” Waple said during a dialogue in the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion on Oct. 4.
At dialogue in the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion on Oct. 4 Chancellor Randy Pembrook said that the bi-weekly discussions last year on diversity and inclusion were helpful and necessary.
“The idea, last year, that we committed to talk every two weeks and in some of those weeks there wasn’t an incident — most of those weeks there wasn’t an incident. So the conversation was ‘what’s going on? How do you think the university can be better? Is there something you want us to reflect on?’ I really liked that because it felt like we were trying to have important conversations, not just in a time that we have to have it because something happened yesterday, but because we should be having these conversations” Pembrook said.
Associate professor of English language and literature Heather Johnson doesn’t think emails are enough to keep the community from being concerned.
“I do think, to be fair, there’s probably a lot more going on behind the scenes … My guess is that they have done some mobilization behind the scenes and we’re just getting an email. However, often that mobilization doesn’t go anywhere … I think it’s probably more complicated than just an email, but honestly, it matters that that is the perception,” Johnson said.
Waple said he is committed to including diversity and bias training for the university to ensure these events cease.
“We have committed that we will have diversity and inclusion [and] bias training for the entire campus in place by fall of 2019. It wasn’t just this incident — we’ve heard that, in all the diversity dialects we had last year [and] some of the protests we’ve had. It’s been on our radar. The plan is that it will be a multiple modality: it isn’t just an online thing you’ll do,” Waple said.
Waple also wants to look into placing more surveillance cameras throughout campus to help spot these incidents.
“We’re going to look at some more camera placements across campus, mainly in parking lots and some other areas where there seems to be, not only these incidents, but other incidents as well,” Waple said.
Waple also believes it is necessary to commit to this training year-round as new students enroll.
“We’re looking at a lot of different ways we can provide this training to campus, not just a one and done, and I think that’s important,” Waple said. “It has to happen not only in the fall, but also the spring. I think [higher education] forgets that we have all these students starting in January and they have no idea what’s happening.”