In order to make the process for Gonzaga community members to report hate crimes and bias more intuitive, the Bias Incident Assessment and Support (BIAS) team recently launched a new webpage on the GU website.
The website includes the BIAS team mission statement, an “Understanding Bias” section, which informs readers on the types of bias and hate crimes, a How to Report section, a Past Reports section and a Resources section that serves to direct the witness or victim to contacts and other materials.
“[It’s a] one-stop resource for people who have been impacted by bias incidents,” said Joan Iva Fawcett, who is the BIAS team’s co-chair and dean of diversity, inclusion and cultural engagement (DICE). “Our goal is to raise awareness about the BIAS Team which is committed to fostering a campus environment where everyone feels safe and respected. We include within that commitment a desire to uphold everyone’s right to freedom of expression.”
The BIAS team keeps records of all times bias is reported. This report can be found on the website. The most recent reports details the 2017-18 school year. Last year there were 34 reports that were filed with the BIAS team. These reports have a wide range of details. Some reports are anonymous, some filed by faculty members.
Reports include the date, where it happened and the nature of the incident (bias based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.).
The BIAS team hopes this new website will phase out the common reasons people do not report bias and make it easy for witnesses and victims to come forward.
Fawcett said the most common reasons people don’t report are “Unawareness that the BIAS Team exists, [they] may not recognize when bias incidents occur or [they] may recognize bias incidents occurring all the time so challenging to figure out what to report.”
Moving forward, the team’s mission is to continue to work on changing campus climate for the better. Now that there is an online resource to report bias Fawcett says the number of incidents will become higher before it diminishes, due to the accessibility of the resource.
“This will only help improve campus climate,” she said. “The BIAS Team supports people and groups who experience bias incidents, monitors and reports on those incidents, and (over time, based on patterns and trends) recommends educational initiatives to minimize bias.”
Olivia Ferguson is a staff writer.