Binghamton University has a new model for when members of the campus community report bias incidents.
The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is made up of campus community members, including representatives from multiple campus departments, who convene to make sure that those who report bias incidents and have been impacted by bias incidents have access to the proper help they need on campus. This includes access to reporting mechanisms, resources and support. The BIRT itself does not investigate these incidents, and just provides support to those impacted by them.
According to the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s (DEI) website, BIRTs are becoming increasingly common on college campuses to provide members of the community with an “inclusive and safe place to work, live and learn,” and can help encourage people to speak up about incidents of hate or bias to foster more inclusive environments.
Karen Jones, the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, wrote in an email that even though the bias reporting program is not new at BU, there have been several changes made to the process.
“We have a new affirmative action officer, Ada Robinson-Perez, who in addition to other responsibilities, is now responsible for managing the University’s response to bias incidents; to review the report to determine if a bias incident has occurred, and where appropriate, redirect for adjudication,” Jones wrote. “Further, we have updated our website as it is important to inform the campus community as to the process, as well as to include definitions as to what constitutes bias, harassment, etc. These updates are the results of a division review as well as recommendations from the campus community.”
Robinson-Perez also plans on hosting monthly workshops on the reporting process so the campus community can remain informed on how to report incidents and what happens once incidents are reported.
“The bias incident reporting process continues to present opportunities to create a more safe and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty and staff,” Robinson-Perez wrote in an email.
Jaclyn Tung, a first-year graduate student studying accounting, thinks work needs to continue to be done to help members of the campus community, and that this initiative cannot be the end of the University’s push to stop bias incidents on campus.
“I believe that this is a good way to start to reduce and eliminate bias incidents on campus,” Tung said. “But ultimately more needs to continue to be done. If the culture of bias and discrimination doesn’t change, then this won’t have much of an impact.”
Gel Castronova, a senior majoring in English, said they are happy that the University is showing signs that it is more dedicated to helping those who are impacted by bias incidents.
“I think it’s great that the University is implementing this system,” Castronova said. “I’m a senior, so I wish something like this was here earlier.”