The U of M has many offices that support and advocate for individuals affected by bias and discrimination, but that help is often either targeted to specific populations or not focused on responding to bias incidents.
That is changing, now that President Kaler has approved a proposal to set up a Bias Response Team on the Twin Cities campus that will, among other things, quickly assemble after bias incidents are reported, then consider responses based on a pre-established bias response protocol and make recommendations to senior leaders. The team could also partner with other campus offices to implement larger-scale responses to bias incidents that harm the campus climate.
The team will report to the Vice President for Equity and Diversity and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and will comprise members from:
- Office for Equity and Diversity
- Office of Human Resources
- Office for Student Affairs
- Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
- Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
- Office of the General Counsel
- President’s Office
- University Relations
- Diversity Community of Practice
- President’s Coalition for a Respectful U
- Campus Climate Engagement Team
The idea for a bias response team is not new. About 10 years ago, some 30 members of the Coalition for a Respectful U (now named President's Coalition for a Respectful U) set the foundation for a proposal and training program for a bias response team.
The idea gained traction in fall 2015, with the efforts of an informal work group comprised of volunteers from the Coalition and the Campus Climate Engagement Team (formerly the Core Planning Team). That group found that many peer institutions have such teams, identified gaps in the U of M’s current response to bias incidents, and drew up a proposal to create the U’s team.
“It is more than exciting to know that [10 years ago] seeds planted by these individuals, many no longer at the U, have grown roots,” says Jerie Smith, volunteer coordinator at the U’s Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education and co-chair of the President’s Coalition for a Respectful U.
When the members of Bias Response Team have been named, they will convene and determine how the team will operate and coordinate its work with other resources.
"I want to thank everyone who had a role in developing this proposal and bringing it to fruition,” says President Kaler. “The Bias Response Team will fill gaps in existing resources and bring new focus to addressing bias incidents when they occur on campus."