As a part of Albion College’s ongoing commitment to foster a community of belonging on campus, the College has introduced the new bias reporting system along with the Bias Response Team.
The new tool was created in an effort to both respond to individual cases of bias while also addressing systemic issues of bias on a broader scale. The group responsible for responding to reports of bias is known as the Bias Response Team.
“Once a report is submitted, an email is shared with me, and I get to activate the bias response team,” said Keena Williams, chief officer of belonging and Title IX coordinator. “There are four representatives in addition to myself on that team: a student representative, staff representative, a faculty representative and an athletics representative.”
The current representatives on the Bias Response Team include Connie Smith, associate vice president for student development, as the student representative; Samantha Addington, assistant director of admissions and tour guide coordinator, as the staff representative; Thomas Wilch, dean of faculty as the faculty representative; and Milton Barnes, director for student success initiatives as the athletic representative.
Members of the community who witness instances of bias are able to submit a report to the Bias Response Team using a link on the College website. Once an incident of bias report is submitted, the team is alerted. Subsequently, the team develops a plan of action based on that specific report.
“Once a report is submitted, the appropriate representative is contacted to develop a plan of action,” said Williams. “We recognize that each situation is different, so we didn’t want to do blanket plans of action that address the subtle nuances of reports that come in.”
The bias report system was utilized after racist slurs were found on the white board on a Residential Assistant’s door in Wesley Hall on March 27 and more racist language was found written in the stairwell of Mitchell Towers from March 28 to April 2.
“A bias report was submitted in response to [what happened in Wesley],” said Williams. “We had a number of bias reports submitted over the weekend [March 27 and March 28]. Over Sunday [March 28] we had a number of reports of similar incidents that occurred in Mitchell Towers.”
Creating a plan based on reports begins with collecting information related to the report. This often includes talking to the appropriate individuals, being on the lookout for things relevant to the report, communicating with students if necessary and utilizing on-the-ground resources.
After the information is collected and a plan is developed, the team is able to organize a response. Potential responses could include a public statement, a public display, a gathering at The Rock or additional educational training, among others.
One of the goals of the bias report system along with the Bias Response Team is to provide an easier way to track incidents of bias.
“It also provides an opportunity to track what kinds of reports go in so that as an institution we can make a decision as to what things we need to address,” said Williams. “It allows us to do that level of work while also responding to the immediate needs that are present on campus.”
In addition, the new system will work to educate the community on problematic and harmful behaviors that lead to bias within the community.
“Our primary goal is to use this as a tool to educate our community on what bias actually is and how we move towards being an anti-racism, anti-ism institution,” said Williams. “That is our first thought as we are planning our response, ‘What is the educational outcome of this moment?’ But also the very real need to address the concerns and to prevent these things from reoccurring and to stop this behavior from happening.”
Members of the community are encouraged to file a report if they witness any non-emergency incidents of bias on or off campus. Confidentiality is prioritized but, depending on certain circumstances, cannot be guaranteed.