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Bias Support & Education Team

Our Team

The Bias Support & Education Team (BSET) responds to reported bias incidents UWL in order to continue to foster a community that is welcoming and inclusive to all. The BSET was formed in 2005 to address and respond to bias incidents in order to better understand our campus climate. The BSET is comprised of the following campus representatives:  

Our Purpose

The Bias Support & Education Team (BSET) shares the University's commitment to a culturally diverse and inclusive climate that fosters intellectual and academic freedom, the free expression and exchange of all ideas, and the well being of its students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

As outlined in the UW Board of Regents policy document 14-6,  "Discrimination, discriminatory attitudes, and expressions that reflect discrimination are inconsistent with the efforts of the University of Wisconsin System to foster an environment of respect for the dignity and worth of all members of the university community and to eliminate all manifestations of discrimination within the university…. All such episodes are harmful to the individuals directly involved, and diminish the university community as a whole."   (UW Board of Regents, Policy Document 14-6) 

Therefore, the BSET exists to address forms of bias through consistent campus climate assessment, proactive education, and comprehensive response and support to individuals impacted by bias. We envision an atmosphere of civility and respect prevails in all forms of expression and interaction in order to develop a community of belonging.

With this at the core of our efforts, the fundamental role of the BSET is to:

  • Collect and respond to information on any and all incidents of bias
  • Provide immediate support for those impacted by bias incidents
  • Create a safe space for all voices to be heard
  • Raise awareness through education that empower bystanders to promote a culture of civility & respect
  • Inform administration and recommend best practices in terms of policy and action, based on trends and findings

Our First Amendment Considerations

It is important to note that not every bias incident which may be offensive to an individual or group will be considered to be discriminatory conduct and/or a violation of system or institutional policy. Due consideration will be given to the protection of individual First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and academic freedom (UW Board of Regents policy document 14-6).

While the First Amendment protects free expression of ideas that are sometimes offensive, that does not mean the university is powerless to respond. Instead of trying to censor or punish free speech, the Bias Support & Education Team documents and tracks these incidents in order to:

  • Provide support to individual(s) impacted by bias incidents
  • Develop programming and training opportunities to address bias
  • Detect emerging patterns of biased activity
  • Publish aggregated data about these incident rates and trends
  • Make recommendations to campus leadership for the prevention of future bias incidents

Of course, people who commit hate crimes, or any crime thereof, that are not protected under the First Amendment may be subject to disciplinary proceedings or prosecution. Possible examples include physical assault, vandalism, trespassing, harassment, incitement, or genuine threats of violence. 

Our Response Protocol

Through the online Bias Incident Report Form, the Bias Support & Education Team (BSET) seeks to collect information on any bias incidents motivated by a person's actual or perceived identity, including, but not limited to race, ethnic background, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religious affiliation. 

Bias incident reports are immediately received by the BSET, and reviewed on a regular basis. Please note that any incidents that may be considered violations of university/system conduct codes or crimes will be directly routed to University Police and Student Life to determine if this incident will be investigated as a hate crime or conduct code violation. Furthermore, any concerns regarding discrimination including, but not limited to economic, political, educational, employment, housing & segregation, and criminal justice disparities will be directed to the UWL Affirmative Action Officer to determine complaint/grievance processes. It is always the goal to protect the wishes and needs of the reporter.

Incidents will be directed to the following University entities:

  • Bias Education & Support Team: Bullying, Ridicule, Name calling, Slurs, Biased/belittling jokes, Stereotyping, Fear of difference, Microaggression, Justifying biases, or another biased action or attitude not listed.
  • University Police & Student Life: Graffiti and/or vandalism, Harassment, Stalking, Threat, or Assault. 
  • UWL Affirmative Action: Retaliation, or Discrimination such as economic, political, educational, employment, housing & segregation, or criminal justice disparities based on protected class.  

Regardless, reports directed to the BSET are compiled over the course of each academic year to shape educational trainings and programs geared towards the prevention of future bias incidents.

Below are a couple guiding documents for response:

What We Do:

  • Collect reports on bias incidents 
  • Provide support for those impacted by bias incidents 
  • Assist impacted parties in connecting with support services
  • Encourage constructive dialog between individuals involved
  • Facilitate proactive and ongoing, educational training about the impact of bias
  • Raise awareness and empower bystanders to promote a culture of civility & respect
  • Inform administration and recommend best practices in terms of policy and action, based on trends and findings

What We DON'T Do:

  • Infringe on First Amendment Rights
  • Limit academic freedom
  • Conduct investigations
  • Impose disciplinary sanctions or other forms of punishment