The University of Minnesota Association is now urging students to be open and freely report any incidents of bias; determined simply by whether or not they “feel” they have experienced any form of biasness.
The MSA website clearly informs all visitors that bias can be in many forms and most of them won’t even be evident. The site went on to explain that most forms of bias will be subtle and it can become very difficult to conclude whether a certain incident involves any form of biasness. According to the website, in such situations, students should “trust their gut.”
The body to which students are urged to report incidents where they feel bias, Minnesota State Bias Response and Relief team, a bias incident can be defined as “an act of bigotry, harassment, or intimidation that is motivated in whole or in part by bias based on an individual’s or group’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
“The best way to determine bias is your own feelings — if you feel like you may have experienced something that was wrong, then you likely have. It’s important to trust your gut when it comes to recognizing bias,” the MSA site states. “Talking it over with trusted colleagues, friends, family, or others may help you determine whether or not the incident was based on bias toward you.”
Students are asked on the top fold of the website, if they have been a victim of, or have experienced bias. They can then pick from two responses: “I’m Unsure” or “Yes.” It is to be noted that there is no option for “No.”
According to a survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, in 2016, universities and colleges have been increasingly urging students to “anonymously report offensive, yet constitutionally protected, speech to administrators and law enforcement.” The complaints are then forwarded to bias response teams such as Minnesota State Bias Response and Relief team at the University of Minnesota.
FIRE also surveyed 231 bias response teams at private and public institutions. According to the findings, less than a third of the teams included faculty members. FIRE believes that the lack of faculty members on such teams could hamper the students’ learning about academic freedom.
Furthermore, FIRE has stated in its report that about 42 percent of the bias response teams include security or police officials. This “sends a message to students that undercuts claims of respect for freedom of expression: If you say something that offends someone, you may (or in some cases will) be investigated by police,” FIRE said in its report.