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Monday, May 16, 2016

Racist & homophobic bias incidents ignored and farmed out to Student Life

We received the following testimony from a student leader:

"I have filed 3 major bias incident reports in the past two years. They have all been met with some combination of negligence, incompetence, and intimidation. All of them have been made private, and made to be as if they are conflicts between individuals. I have concluded that filing them is a waste of time and a useless endeavor."

In evidence, the student leader submitted the following two incidents:

1. "I was a floor governor in Fall 2015. Around Halloween, I was in the bathroom when one of my residents entered wearing a “Pocahontas” costume. I asked her about it, and she responded with anger and defensiveness. I filed a bias incident report and was contacted a few days later by Dean David Canton in order to meet about it. We were able to meet, but the student who wore the offensive costume was not present, apparently because she was not invited. Dean Canton seemed unsure how to deal with the issue. He said he would meet privately with the student in question. I never heard anything more about it. The incident is missing from the CamelWeb bias log."

2. "Another time that semester, I had to call Campus Safety because one of my residents (who was a queer person of color) had gotten dangerously drunk and had hit his head. Campus Safety used intimidating and racialized language, harassed him, and one of them used excessive force with him. It was determined that my resident would need to go to the hospital, and so despite his physical resistance and lack of consent, members of Campus Safety and others dragged him into a stretcher, strapped him down, and loaded him into an ambulance. Fearing for his safety, I accompanied him to the hospital.
I filed a bias incident report detailing these events. I was never contacted by Dean Canton, and the incident is not in the CamelWeb bias incident log. 
However, I was contacted a few days later by South Area Coordinator Kelsey Gamble requesting a meeting to discuss the incident with her and Director of Residential Education and Living (REAL) Sara Rothenberger. During this meeting, instead of addressing the incident, I was notified that I had been given a warning letter, the first step in the REAL staff firing process, because I had left my on-call post to accompany my resident to the hospital. With regard to the incident, Rothenberger told me that there are accountability processes for Campus Safety that already exist, and that I should trust in those processes. She told me that there is “a lot of turnover” and she sees problematic “faces” go away over time. I left the meeting feeling defeated, drained, and intimidated. I never heard anything of the incident again from the administration. The Campus Safety officers who spoke intimidatingly, including the one who assaulted my resident, are still here. I continue to be traumatized because of that night."

Why has President Bergeron placed the students under the tyranny of Student Life staff while the administrators who are supposed to represent students of color, queer people, and other marginalized groups
1. are not sure how to deal with issues
2. do not update the bias log
3. do not contact students when reports are filed
4. generally seem to either not be qualified or have no power
5. are not accountable to students?

What kind of educational institution fails so badly to educate people about racism, homophobia, and other displays of dominance by the majority group?

The student leader ended in the following way:
"I don’t file bias incidents because they are a waste of time. The focus is on interpersonal conflict resolution, which functions to skirt around any substantive accountability for structural racism. In addition, under this administration, there is a climate of negligence, evidenced by missing incidents from CamelWeb, and a lack of timely response, if a response at all, from those who should be responsible. I am not alone in this; there are many people with similar experiences. There are very few people I know who would file a bias incident report if they experienced a bias incident. There is a widespread and justified lack of trust in this administration’s care or competence regarding the structures of domination and violence that students encounter on this campus."

1 comment:

  1. So the sight of someone in a Pocahontas costume was the reason for filing a "bias complaint"?
    And because the EMTs did not handle your dangerously-drunk "queer person of color" with soft enough kid gloves when they had to subdue / strap down / transport to the hospital your friend...that's another complaint?
    One quick question...did the administration ever determine who was responsible for the Traumatic Graffiti that caused a campus shutdown last year? Since I have not heard of any resolution, I'm guessing that this incident was a hoax, just like the vast majority of campus "hate crimes".