Creating a less-biased Xavier for all BART leads discussions about important dialogue

By: Bias Advisory and Response Team ~BART~

Certainly we all have biases, right? The answer to this rhetorical question is yes we all do indeed hold conscious or implicit biases or stereotypes that can negatively affect people we interact with everyday, whether in the office, classroom, residence hall, student organizations or on the playing field. Bias incidents happen to all kinds of people, yet something can be done to “de-bias” ourselves, as coined by MTVs’ seven-day race and gender bias cleanse. And so Xavier created BART to respond to and help prevent bias incidents that occur on our campus.

The Bias Advisory and Response Team (BART) coordinates university action when

incidents occur that are rooted in an intentional or unintentional act of discrimination toward an individual or group based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, nationality, veteran status or age.

1Biased acts often involve online bullying, racial or homophobic slurs,

1
This opinion was written by members of the Bias Advisory and Response Team (BART). BART consists of Xavier community members who have some level of expertise in diversity, inclusion and responding to incidents on campus. They are: Co-chairs Jean Griffin, Dean of Students, and Taj Smith, Director, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Brent Blair, Associate Professor, Biology; Greg Carpinello, Director, Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice; Sgt. Shawn Bryce, Sergeant, Campus Police; Jessica Donohue-Dioh, Instructor, Social Work; Cassandra Jones, Assistant Director, Disability Services, Lori Lambert, Senior Director, Student Affairs. Kate Lawson, Title IX Coordinator, May Lee Moua Vue, Assistant Director, Center for International Education, and Caleb Mickler, SGA President.

graffiti or other symbols that intentionally target a group of people. This can result in creating physically unsafe living and learning environments. We recognize that safety has different meanings to different people. Feeling uncomfortable isn’t always a sign of bias and can sometimes be just a learning edge that one is experiencing. Therefore, a full investigation into the reported incident is important. Research suggests that people are often unaware of their biases, stereotypes or use of microaggressions. So understanding intent and impact is important to fully understand the situation. It is important to note that all bias incidents aren’t hate crimes. Hate crimes are criminal offenses motivated by an intent to harm an individual or group simply because they are different.

BART encourages students to report incidences of bias. Students can report to individuals

on the team or at the following locations: XUPD, Office of Dean of Students, Title IX Office, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion or via a Student Concern report that can be found online at www. xavier.edu/studentconcern.

While investigating and responding to bias incidents is important, BART believes that dialogue is also an important strategy to improve our campus climate. Xavier’s team will work to shortly

facilitate spaces after an incident is reported where empathy, understanding and accountability are vocalized. This method will help anyone affected by the bias incident process their thoughts. Each member of BART will have training opportunities this spring to lead meaningful dialogue about bias. BART’s end goal is to lessen the amount of bias incidents on campus.

Taj Smith, Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, is leading the team in developing additional prevention education efforts. For example, he has worked closely with SGA on an Inclusive Language campaign that will highlight the harmful impact that words can have. Inclusive language is not political correctness but rather a reflection of our commitment to being sensitive and strategic as we live “All for One,” in the Xavier Way.

As an institution that believes in the power of liberal arts and social justice, we must engage our entire community in this work. In Fall 2016, we plan to introduce a new initiative, “Xavier’s Day of Dialogue,” which will provide opportunities for constructive, honest and potentially challenging conversations about local, national and global social issues. Through this process, we will move closer to achieving the benefits that come with being a diverse community.

BART is an example of our Jesuit values of cura personalis (care for the whole person), reflection, discernment, solidarity, love and justice in action. Through BART’s work, we can learn to overcome our biases and create an inclusive community. BART currently needs one to two students to be a part of the team. We especially encourage students who aren’t already involved student leaders on campus to join our efforts in making Xavier a training ground for global citizenship.

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