Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if what I experienced is a bias incident?

Often, our gut feeling or instinct tells us that we have experienced bias. Talking it over with trusted colleagues, friends, family, or others may help you determine whether or not the incident was based on bias toward you. Educating yourself about bias can help as well. The BRRN and related offices on campus can always help support you in processing the incident and share related examples of bias.

What about free speech? Are you trying to stop free speech?

The BRRN is committed to fostering robust and respectful dialogue within our campus community. The team does not tell University members what they can or cannot do or say. The team also does not have any role in investigating or disciplining any community members for their speech or expression. Rather, the BRRN's aim is to provide resources and support for campus members who have been harmed by bias incidents, including those that may have stemmed from protected free speech; affirm the University's values of equity, diversity, and free expression; and support the creation of spaces for more speech and dialogue around issues of social identity that affect our campus community.

Are there other places to report bias incidents?

Yes, University members can also report bias incidents to their local unit or department. For example, students who experience a bias incident in University housing may report the incident to Housing and Residential Life. Faculty who experience or witness a bias incident within their department may report the incident to their department chair or dean. Also, see the list of Resources for Concerns.

What happens if a person is named as having been involved in a bias incident?

In the interest of transparency and information sharing, the BRRN may inform the person about the reported concern and offer resources for support and education when appropriate. In cases where the reported bias incident may violate a law or University policy, the Bias Response and Referral Network will forward the report to the appropriate investigative office.

If I submit a report about someone specifically, will they learn it’s from me?

The BRRN will maintain a reporter's confidentiality whenever possible, given the University’s responsibility for supporting a safe and non-discriminatory working and learning environment.  

Is a bias incident the same as a hate crime?

Both bias incidents and hate crimes consist of conduct that is motivated by bias. However, hate crimes involve a criminal act, such as assault or vandalism. Bias incidents do not necessarily involve criminal activity and may come in the form of microaggressions (often well-intentioned but extremely hurtful and biased remarks from others) and other non-criminal acts of bias.

I feel as though negative things like microaggressions happen all the time. What’s the point of reporting them?

Although microaggressions occur often, each makes an impact and they have a cumulative effect on both individuals and communities. Reporting microaggressions helps tremendously. The more information we have about microaggressions on campus, the better the Bias Response and Referral Network and other offices can focus on educational programs, outreach efforts, and responses.

I don't want to inadvertently engage in biased speech or behavior. What are microaggressions and implicit bias?

Micro-aggressions are everyday acts or indignities that cause distress or harm to marginalized groups. They are often subtle but offensive comments or actions that reinforce stereotypes. While the impact of microaggressions can vary from person to person, the cumulative effect of microaggressions can be very toxic. An example of a microaggression would be a white person saying to an African American person, “You’re very articulate” or “I don’t see color.”

Implicit bias is a form of stereotyping that is often unintentional, automatic, or outside of our awareness and that can contradict our conscious beliefs. It is up to individuals to address the biases they may carry through education, training, and self-examination. An example of implicit bias would be a hiring committee not advancing any female candidates even when several qualified women applied for the position and the committee believes there was no gender bias involved in the process.