Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Mississippi

Bias Incident Response Team

(BIRT)

birt-logo

Purpose

While valuing freedom of thought and expression, the University of Mississippi is committed to an inclusive living and learning community that celebrates difference, values each student, and fosters an atmosphere of civility and respect. The BIRTeam exists to affirm our Creed when incidents of bias arise.

The University of Mississippi is a community of learning dedicated to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment. As a voluntary member of this community:

I believe in respect for the dignity of each person

I believe in fairness and civility

I believe in personal and professional integrity

I believe in academic honesty

I believe in academic freedom

I believe in good stewardship of our resources

I pledge to uphold these values and encourage others to follow my example.

Definition

Bias incidents include conduct, speech or expressions that are threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, or hostile and are motivated by a person’s identity or group affiliation.  A bias incident includes, but is not limited to, the person’s actual or perceived race, age, disability status, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. Bias can be defined as an inclination, temperament or prejudice for or against persons because of their memberships in a protected class, especially in a way considered to be unfair.

The University already has policies, procedures and protocols in place to respond to different kinds of incidents, enabling it to attend to the health and safety of members of the University community, manage individual complaints or grievances, and adjudicate possible violations of university policies or local, state or federal laws. Examples of such policies, procedures, and protocols are outlined in the MBook. Incidents that are not covered by formal policies and procedures, but have the effect of harming individuals or groups, may be addressed by the university’s Bias Incident Response Team.

Objectives

  • Provide students, faculty, and staff with an avenue for reporting perceived bias behavior
  • Provide support and a process for effective advocacy on behalf of the student, faculty, or staff member who is a recipient of bias
  • Promote educationally driven outcomes to enable students, faculty, and staff to learn about discriminatory behavior and language
  • Track bias data to share with campus partners for monitoring campus climate
  • Using the principles of restorative justice, work to gather all information and facts of perceived incidents before making recommendations
  • Serve as a liaison between Center for Inclusion & Cross Cultural Engagement, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance, Office of Conflict Resolution & Student Conduct, and any other constituents that may need information

Examples

While bias can take many shapes, it typically results in a state of emotional discomfort and insecurity for the victim. An incident that is motivated by bias may include such things as offensive conduct or language toward a person or group because of membership in a protected class. It may also include discrimination or expressions of disrespect motivated by bias or hate against actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status.

Some specific examples of bias incidents include:

  • Making comments on social media about someone’s disability, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs
  • Writing on a white board about someone’s disability, ethnicity, national origin, race, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs in a biased manner
  • Taking down someone’s holiday decoration because of disagreement with the religion
  • Drawing or creating pictures that imitate, stereotype, or belittle/ridicule someone because of their gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, faith, or political affiliation
  • Offensive graffiti or images/drawing
  • Posting or commenting on social media related to someone’s identity in a biased manner
  • Calling someone offensive, derogatory, or inappropriate names… (in person, in writing, on social media, white boards, etc.)

Reporting Bias

To report an incident, please complete the Bias Incident Reporting Form. The BIRTeam will respond to all reports within two business days. If you have any questions or additional information, you may also e-mail inclusion@olemiss.edu or call the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-1689. For immediate assistance or emergencies, please contact the University of Mississippi’s Department of Police and Campus Safety at 662-915-7234.

Who can submit a report?

Faculty, staff, students, as well as parents, alumni and visitors to campus with knowledge of a perceived or actual bias incident on campus may report the incident using the Bias Incident Reporting Form or by contacting the Center for Inclusion & Cross Cultural Engagement.

Confidential reporting may be used for informational purposes; however, it may limit the types of actions that can be taken regarding bias related incidents. Reports that are not confidential or anonymous will assist for better resolution to the concerns.

Anonymity will be valued; however, completing the report may initiate law enforcement, judicial or administrative action.

Why should I submit a report?

Acts of bias and intolerance effect both the person(s) and the University community as a whole.  Although bias-related incidents may not rise to a criminal level, they can affect the perceived safety of the campus environment and result in an adverse effect on an individual’s or group of individuals’ working, living, or educational environment. Being aware and sensitive to issues of bias is essential to creating and sustaining the best possible environment for learning, scholarship, creative activity, and working together.

Demonstrated in the principles outlined in our Creed, the University of Mississippi is committed to the success of all our students, staff and faculty. The university works to create an environment that values and celebrates our diverse community and fosters respect for every individual.  With your help, we can continue to provide opportunities for all persons to perform to their full potential. As we continue to work towards providing excellent research and learning opportunities in a place as special and unique as the University of Mississippi, we also need to continue to promote and support a community that is as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

Together, we all can maintain a respectful and inclusive environment that provides the support and opportunity necessary for each member of our community to prosper and achieve.

Resources

If members of the campus community believe they are the target of a bias related incident, know of another person who has been a victim or target or witnessed a bias related incident, there may be questions about available options to assist this person(s).

Individuals who are the target of bias often look to their communities first for mutual understanding, reinforcement and advice. There are resources available on campus, and the University of Mississippi encourages all students, faculty and staff to be aware and utilize them.

Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)

Shawnboda Mead:     662-915-1689

Center for Inclusion & Cross Cultural Engagement 

Shawnboda Mead:     662-915-1689

Chancellor’s Standing Committee on LGBTQ Affairs

Office of the Chancellor:     662-915-7111

Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Sensitivity and Respect

Donald Cole:     662-915-7111

Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance (EO/RC)

Becki Bressler:     662-915-7735

Office of the Dean of Students 

Val Ross:         662-915-7247

Office of Global Engagement

Nosa Egiebor:      662-915-7404

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Merrill Magruder:       662-915-7705

Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies

Jaime Harker:     662-915-5916

Student Disability Services

Stacey Reycraft:         662-915-7128

University Counseling Center

Bud Edwards:     662-915-3784

University Counseling Center/Violence Prevention Officer

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick:     662-915-1059

University Ombudsperson

VACANT:     662-915-1537

University Police Department

Tim Potts:     662-915-7234

William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

Jennifer Stollman:     662-915-1605