As a university, we know that to excel in our education and work, every member of our community must be represented and included. We aspire for all members of the UVM community (students, staff, and faculty) to feel respected and valued. While we endeavor to live out the values of Our Common Ground, we recognize that there may be times when we fall short and community members experience identity-based harm.
For these reasons, the University of Vermont has developed a collaborative approach to addressing the impact that bias can have on the well-being and success of students, staff, and faculty.
The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity supports a centralized reporting form and system for reviewing incidents of reported harassment, discrimination, and other forms of bias at the University of Vermont. Through this system, when issues are determined not to rise to the level of a university policy violation, individualized support is offered and a multi-disciplinary approach is taken to inform larger campus climate initiatives. The purpose of bias reporting and response is explicitly one of community building – to allow those impacted to be heard, to provide those impacted with prompt and meaningful supportive measures, and to raise awareness and deepen conversations about complex, and often deeply sensitive issues.
It cannot be over-emphasized that the University vigorously supports freedom of inquiry and expression within the academic community. However, while these freedoms protect controversial ideas, differing views, and sometimes offensive and hurtful words, the university aims 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. It is important to recognize and address the impact caused by bias through intentional community engagement. The offering of a venue to report bias incidents and seek individualized support does not replace or alter existing protocols and processes to resolve alleged violations of UVM’s Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Code of Student Conduct, or applicable 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. Building an inclusive campus environment, creating space for difficult conversations, and aligning our values with our practices is at the heart of bias reporting and response. It is within this framework of openly engaging a range of ideas and perspectives while simultaneously supporting our community members that our university finds its most important work.