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Research Report

Responding to Bias-Related Incidents on Campus

October 24, 2017

Over the last decade, the volume and complexity of campus flashpoints has risen, bringing bias-related incidents to the forefront as administrators, students, and other internal stakeholders work to enhance the campus climate. At the end of 2017, we learned that 89% percent of university provosts and presidents reported personally spending more time on campus climate issues during that year.

Five years later, addressing incidents and perceptions of bias on campus remains a critical issue that can impact student wellness, institutional reputation, and the educational experience. And, it is an issue no less complex to address. Many institutional attempts and responses have come under scrutiny recently, leaving administrators wondering how to appropriately balance protecting free speech with addressing student concerns about bias and safety.

This executive briefing is designed to help inform senior leaders across campus to consider Bias Response Teams (BRTs), and includes key terms, related lawsuits and legislation, and next steps you can take.

More on this topic

This resource is part of the Manage Campus Climate Flashpoints Roadmap. Access the Roadmap for stepwise guidance with additional tools and research.

The rise of the bias response team (BRT)

Many colleges and universities use BRTs to manage and respond to bias incidents on campus. While these teams have existed on some campuses for many years, they have experienced increased pressure due to recent debates and heightened tensions on campuses and across the country regarding free speech. The scope, activities, and impact of these teams vary widely, as do their reception on campus, based on a wide range of factors including institution type, student population, team structure, and team authority.

What is the role of the BRT on campus?

The scope, activities, and impact of BRTs vary widely from campus to campus, but they generally fall into one of two categories:

Those that respond to and resolve individual cases of bias, i.e. provide support to the reporter and potentially investigate the incident.

Those that receive reports for the exclusive purpose of collecting data to determine trends and inform broad campus climate efforts.

8 considerations to improve the efficacy of your college’s bias response team

Unpack three common pain points of BRT’s and consider eight tactics to review your team’s policies and procedures to ensure they are as effective as possible.

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