Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Dean Speaks On New Bias Reporting System

During the past week, students across campus received an email detailing the specifics of a new bias reporting system that has been put into place on the Augustana website.
According to the page on the website, a bias incident is: “[An] act or behavior motivated by the offender’s bias against another due to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity or expression, or military status”. Augustana is not the first to implement and encourage the student use of the presence of a bias reporting team, with Wright State, University of Chicago, and Providence College, among many others, having similar programs.
The Bias Reporting team on our campus consists of Dean and Vice President of Student Life Evelyn Campbell, Associate Academic Dean Wendy Hilton-Morrow, Director of Human Resources Laura Ford, and Director of Multicultural Student Life Samuel Payan.
“This is a pretty standard practice for peer institutions,” said Director of Multicultural Student Life Samuel Payan. “This isn’t something that’s Augustana-centric. It’s not something that’s groundbreaking. It’s something that we’re actually behind, along with most schools.”
Going back five and ten years, Campbell said this way of handling these incidents has always worked fine, with reports not being of any overwhelming number. About three years ago, Campbell says there began to be a more formal practice for handling these instances. The team began writing the articles for the webpage last year, leading to its presence today.
“I think it’s important to know that we’ve been receiving reports of bias incidents for 12 to 15 years, it’s not like it’s anything new” said Campbell. “I would sort of informally convene people to talk to when these sorts of things came in. I’d always get a couple of people together to help me decide what to do in those situations”.
Campbell also notes that the ability to report has always been there, but the webpage is one more possible avenue for students who need it.
“At Augustana, students use all methods, and I would say they probably report to people more than they use technology. Because we’re just that kind of campus, people care about each other. They tend to share things with human beings. So, I think that will continue to be the major way that we learn and work with students. It’s a human interaction” Campbell said.
The website offers anonymity for the student who wishes not to disclose themselves, or perhaps needs to report an incident in the middle of the night, or any other as yet unforeseen instance that the website will end up being used for.
The website not only details how to report, who’s a part of the team, and who can be reported to, it also details the way that these reports are handled. “It’s important that the students know where to go” Payan said.
“We’re trying to be current, and supportive, and open, and available, and doing the things we need to do to uphold our community principles” Campbell said.

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Dean Speaks On New Bias Reporting System