Second bias incident reported
By Michelle Deloison Baum
Published on Friday, January 25, 2013
Two students were targeted and verbally harassed in the Class of 1953 Commons on Wednesday, according to a campus email from Interim President Carol Folt and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson.
This incident marks the second bias incident reported this week, following racist graffiti scrawled in the Choates residential hall cluster on Saturday.
The incident occurred during lunchtime in ’53 Commons, according to Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College.
“Two students reported that another student walked by them, made eye contact and verbally harassed them by speaking gibberish that was perceived to be mock Chinese,” he said.
The students went to the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, where they were encouraged to report the incident through Maxient, an online program, Anderson said.
Upon receiving the information, Safety and Security immediately contacted the students and launched an investigation to identify the perpetrator.
Efforts to respond to bias incidents on campus are conducted through the Bias Incident Response Team, according to OPAL director Alysson Satterlund. While Safety and Security conducts the investigations, OPAL provides the impacted students with support, according to Anderson.
A program will be held on Friday afternoon in response to the incident for students to discuss their experiences with bigotry and ignorance on campus.
Satterlund said in an email that the program will begin the process of acknowledging that bias, hate and intolerance are impacting our campus climate and should not be ignored.
Including the two most recent events, there have been four reported bias incidents since last Spring, according to Anderson.
Stephanie Crocker ’12 said that this second bias incident in one week indicates the need for the whole community to react, rather than solely those who were targeted.
“It is certainly not freak incidents,” she said. “Over my time at Dartmouth there have been regular occurrences, but these are the most regular occurrences I have seen. It’s certainly not getting better, so we need to fix it.”
Jonele Conceicao ’14 said she was surprised and appalled that the incident occurred at a school that strives to be progressive.
Latesia Manuel ’14 was less surprised, however, and said she did not consider it “outside the realm of possibilities.” She said she would like to see a stronger response from the administration and less student apathy.
“Students need to flood as many outlets as they can to say that these things are not isolated and to demand more forums and collective action,” she said.
After reviewing reports on campus climate improvement initiatives at Princeton University, Cornell University and Yale University, Satterlund said in an email that the reports vary based on what campuses emphasize.
Cornell, like Dartmouth, uses Maxient to allow students to file complaints electronically, according to Darren Jackson, program manager of inclusion and compliance initiatives at Cornell.
Incidents are publicized on a website that is updated monthly and is accessible only to Cornell students, faculty and staff, he said. Incidents that are not considered to have an impact on the community as a whole are not reported in Cornell’s publications.
Jackson said that Cornell’s program focuses on education rather than discipline. It is especially hard to follow up on incidents when the perpetrator cannot be identified, he said.
While some students have expressed concern that Cornell’s administration does not take bias incidents seriously enough, Jackson said he believes that the administration takes the necessary steps.
Jackson could not disclose the numbers of reported incidents at the university, but he said that there have been incidents of racist writings in residential halls, including swastikas engraved in elevators and chalkings with racial slurs.
Dickinson College, meanwhile, has developed a formalized process for bias incident reporting through the Bias Education and Response Team, which consists of three faculty members, according to diversity initiatives director Paula Lima-Jones. While BERT is only a little over a year old, it is moving to incorporate more faculty and students this semester.
The number of bias incidents is unknown, but Lima-Jones said that two to four bias incidents are reported on the Dickinson campus each year.
BERT works on conflict resolutions between individuals and with the larger community.
“If something happens in a residence hall, we find it important to bring the whole residence hall to get a sense of how to repair the community and reestablish our sense of community,” she said.
Because prosecuting perpetrators is not always possible, BERT’s aims to restore a sense of safety for victims and witnesses of incidents.
“Oftentimes what makes these instances difficult is they might not necessarily violate law,” Lima-Jones said.
Brown University students can report a bias incident through Brown Public Safety to the Office of Student Life or to the LGBTQ Resource Center, according to Brown’s website on Queer Alliance. Princeton students can speak with confidential consultants, according to the university’s website.