Multiple Departments Respond to Recent Wave of Bias-Based Incidents

One of the signs that are posted by each bathroom door. One of the signs that are posted by each bathroom door. Theresa Matthiesen/The Indy

Matthew Phillips – Copy Editor

In an Oct. 1 email, Bob Knight, college president, detailed three recent reported bias-based incidents. These incidents follow administration’s attempts to address bias and bigotry through open community forums last Winter and Spring.

Two incidents involved students finding white pride stickers displaying swastikas. Security removed the stickers promptly after students reported seeing them. The third incident was removal of one of the new All Gender/All User bathroom signs in Gaiser Hall, which security later found in a garbage can. Security has replaced the sign.

Knight said in the email that the college takes bias incidents seriously and reaffirmed the college’s “…commitment to ensuring a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for all members of the college community.”

The Incident Response Team is the college’s main defense against bias incidents. The IRT is part of the college’s bias-based incident protocol and responds to every reported incident. Once the IRT responds to an incident, they document evidence and then take steps to minimize the potential damage of the incident.

Director of Security Mike see said the goal is to lessen impact on the people who these incidents affect.

The IRT remains as transparent as possible with the college community about incidents they respond to, without causing further harm to victims.

The majority of incidents that the IRT responds to are low-profile incidents which not many see, or easily containable events with low degrees of impact. Such incidents include biased bathroom graffiti and written notes, as well as the above incidents.

While most incidents are low-impact, the IRT treats every incident with the same degree of importance. “We take them all seriously,” Rashida Willard, director of operations and risk management, said.

The majority of biased-based incidents are anonymous, making identification of parties responsible nearly impossible. “Biased based incidents, whether on campus or online, are more often than not anonymous,” Willard said.

How is the college community supposed to respond?

See said the best actions community members can take is reporting incidents to security as soon as possible.

If you or a fellow community member has been the target of or affected by bias-based incidents, Clark offers resources to help you:

  • Campus Security: 360-992-2133
  • Office of Diversity and Equity: 360-992–2292

The Office of Diversity and Equity offers a list of tips for how to address bias-based incidents when faced with one. Below is an abbreviated list. The complete list “Survival Tips for Students when Faced with Bias” is available in Gaiser 214.

  1. Be safe.
  2. Report bias immediately, even if you are not sure a crime has been committed.
  3. Address the action, the words, the image and not the person’s character or the underlying issue.
  4. Address the perpetrator more respectfully than they are addressing you.
  5. Talk it out with someone you trust.
  6. Support the victims of bias by speaking up, standing next to them or showing your solidarity.

“We can’t be everywhere, always,” See said. “Don’t assume we already know about something.” Even if a community member believes that an incident has already been reported, it is always better to report the incident anyway. It is also important for community members to support students who have been victimized and give them support.

“Be nice to each other,” See said. “If we take care of each other, then if a student is affected it takes some of the sting away so they feel less alone.”

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