As a University, we know that in order to excel in our educational and work environment, every member of our community must flourish. We aspire for all members of community (students, staff, and faculty) to feel safe, respected, and valued. While we aspire to the values of inclusion, we recognize that there may be times when community members do not feel that way based on their experiences surrounding their identities.
For these reasons, the University of Vermont has developed a collaborative approach to addressing the impact bias incidents can have on the well-being and success of students, staff, and faculty.
The Bias Response Program is a centralized system for reporting bias, an umbrella term that includes, but is not limited to, incidents of harassment, discrimination, hate crimes, and micro-aggressions, at the University of Vermont. This program does not replace or alter existing protocols and processes to resolve alleged violations of UVM policies regarding harassment, sexual misconduct, and discrimination, or violations of criminal law through UVM Police Services. Rather, the purpose of the Program is explicitly educational – to raise awareness and deepen conversations about complex, and often deeply sensitive issues. To this end, the Program serves as a mechanism to address incidents of bias impacting UVM community members by providing immediate, meaningful, and effective support to all parties that have been directly or indirectly impacted.
It cannot be over-emphasized that the University vigorously supports freedom of inquiry and expression within the academic community as protected by the First Amendment. However, while these freedoms protect controversial ideas, differing views, and sometimes offensive and hurtful words, one of the Program’s goals is to address emerging campus climate issues that are antithetical to our University’s commitment to diversity and the shared-values outlined in Our Common Ground. The development of this Program speaks to the University’s understanding that it is important to recognize and address the impact caused by bias incidents through incident-specific educational efforts, regardless of whether the acts of bias are policy violations or violations of law.
As a community, it is imperative that we continue to work collaboratively to ensure we create a place where all members can be successful. The importance of building an inclusive campus environment, creating space for educational conversations and aligning our values with our practices is at the heart of the Bias Response Program. It is within this framework of openly engaging a range of ideas and perspectives while simultaneously supporting our community members that our University’s Bias Program finds its most important work.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs