FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an act of bigotry, harassment, or intimidation that is motivated in whole or in part by bias based on an individual’s or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Bias often stems from fear, misunderstanding, hatred, or stereotypes and may be intentional or unintentional.
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 noncriminal acts of bias.
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 can share related examples of bias.
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.
Reporting a Bias Incident
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.
After submitting your report, a member of the BRRN will let you know your report has been received, provide resources for support, and learn more about your preferred response. The BRRN may also, as appropriate, provide educational information to parties involved in the bias incident report about the University’s commitment to equity, inclusion, academic freedom, and freedom of expression. Other actions may include referring the bias incident report to investigative offices as appropriate, such as the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the Office for Community Standards, Student Unions and Activities, the Office of the General Counsel, or the University of Minnesota Police Department.
The BRRN will maintain a reporter’s confidentiality whenever possible, given the University’s responsibility for supporting a safe and nondiscriminatory working and learning environment.
Why a Bias Response and Referral Network?
President Kaler charged the BRRN in January 2016. It was initially called the Bias Response Team (BRT), but the name was changed in November 2016 to better reflect its purpose and work.
Bias incidents happen at the University of Minnesota. These incidents undermine the University’s efforts toward equity and inclusivity and cause distress and harm to those who experience them. Bias incidents limit our community’s ability to excel in our work and learning. The University has an obligation to address bias, and the BRRN provides a consultative and consistent way to do so.
I feel as though negative things like microaggressions happen all the time. What’s the point of reporting them?
Although microaggressions occur often, each one has an impact on the individual, and they have a cumulative effect on both individuals and communities. Reporting microaggressions helps tremendously in combating bias. The more information we have about microaggressions on campus (e.g., who engaged in the behavior, the identity targeted, where the incident occurred), the better the BRRN and other offices can focus their educational programs, outreach efforts, and responses.