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Bias Incident Response Process
Lake Forest College is committed to providing a safe and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty, and staff. We value the diversity of our community members’ ethnic, gender, and cultural backgrounds, in equal measure with the breadth and depth of all experiences that they bring to our campus. The College’s mission statement states that we embrace cultural diversity and develop responsible members of the global community. Additionally, we work to enable students to become adept at approaching differences openly, honestly, and respectfully, and to solve problems in a civil manner, collectively. As such, it is expected that all members of our campus community – students, faculty, staff, and administration – will strive to foster an environment that is free from bias.
The College has well-established, well-defined policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment that are appended to this document. This Bias Incident Response Process (“BIR Process”) is designed to respond to incidents by, between or among students that can be more difficult to define than harassment or discrimination, but that can nonetheless harm or threaten individuals or groups based on characteristics of identity including, but not limited to, sex, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious affiliation, sexual orientation or preference, age, marital or family status, disability, or veteran status. Illustrative examples of potential bias incidents include targeted graffiti or vandalism, homophobic or sexist jokes, racist epithets, religious slurs, or demeaning remarks on social media. Bias incidents may or may not be intended to cause harm.
The College intends this BIR Process to operate consistent with – and never in opposition to – the principles of academic freedom to which the College has been historically committed. Rigorous discussion and debate are fundamental to the College’s educational mission, and neither this BIR Process nor any other College policy or process is intended to determine or restrict teaching methods, course content, or the processes of intellectual inquiry and debate. Consistent with this, the BIR Process applies only to incidents by, between or among students outside the classroom, laboratory or other academic setting. If students believe a member of the faculty has shown bias, then students may raise a complaint with the faculty member’s department chair, the Dean of Students or the Dean of Faculty. If students believe a member of the College’s staff has shown bias, then students may raise a complaint with the staff member’s supervisor, the Dean of Students or the Director of Human Resources.
Offensive speech, by itself, does not violate this Process or other College policy. For speech/expression to constitute a Bias Incident, it must lack a reasonable relationship to an educational, political or artistic goal, and must threaten, intimidate or marginalize an individual or group based on one or more of the characteristics of identity listed above.
Bias Incident Response Process
Lake Forest College takes allegations of bias seriously and will work to respond appropriately and provide support to affected individual(s). This BIR Process defines bias incidents by, between or among students, explains how the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) will respond to such incidents, and provides information on available campus resources.
Definition of a Bias Incident
A bias incident is behavior or speech, as described in the preceding overview, which expresses hostility, harms, or has the potential to harm, an individual or group based upon actual or perceived identity characteristics, as listed above. A bias incident may diminish or limit an individual’s ability to freely engage in academic or co-curricular activities at the College, or to feel isolated from the College community. An intention to cause harm to an individual or group is not required for an act to be considered a bias incident.
Bias Incident Response Team
The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) includes administrative staff and students who will respond to bias incidents in a timely and objective manner. The BIRT will contact students affected by a reported bias incident and begin to investigate the incident within 72 hours of receiving the report. The BIRT members will be appointed annually by the Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students. BIRT will customarily include representatives from these areas, among others:
• Office of Intercultural Relations (chair)
• Title IX Coordinator
• Public Safety
• Residence Life/Student Conduct
• Counseling Services
• Gates Center
• Student representatives*
* For purposes of confidentiality, student representatives will be included after initial investigation is complete.
When investigating a reported bias incident, the BIRT will consider all facts and circumstances regarding the incident, including the nature, severity, and the duration of the incident and its impact on affected individual(s). Potential BIRT responses to a bias incident include:
• Development of educational programming
• Promotion of campus dialogue
• Recommendation of mediation between individuals or groups
• Recommendation of an appropriate change in institutional policy or practice
• Referral of affected student(s) to Counseling Services, the Ethics Center or other campus resources
Please note that BIRT does not have the authority to sanction any student. Bias incidents that violate Lake Forest College Community Standards or Illinois State Law will be referred to and addressed through the student conduct process, as appropriate.
Reporting a Bias Incident
Any student who experiences or witnesses a potential bias incident by, between or among students should use the linked Bias Incident Report Form or report it to Public Safety, the Office of Intercultural Relations, Dean of Students, Office of Residence Life or any BIRT member. The BIRT will respond within 72 hours. Please note that bias incident emergencies should always be reported directly to Public Safety or 911. Reports should include the following information, if available:
1. Date, time, and location of the alleged incident
2. Names of individuals involved and witnesses
3. Description of what you experienced, observed, or heard including any specific language or terms that were used
4. Name or description of individuals involved
5. Any other relevant information that may assist in an investigation or response. Note: Do not erase or remove physical evidence (graffiti, vandalism, or public postings) or delete email, text, or social media communication. If you are able, and if it is relevant, take and save photos of the incident.
The College and BIRT will endeavor to protect the privacy of any individual reporting a potential bias incident, and will exercise discretion when sharing information about the incident. Summary information may need to be shared as a safety announcement, incident report, or as required by law.
Counseling Services can provide confidential support and will not provide information to other College staff unless there is a legitimate concern about the safety of the reporting individual or others. Counseling Services is located in Buchanan Hall and can be reached at 847-735-5240.
Lake Forest College Non-Discrimination Statement
Lake Forest College does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates.
Lake Forest College complies with federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on the protected categories listed above, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex (including sexual misconduct) in the College’s educational programs and activities.
Lake Forest College provides reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants, students, and employees with disabilities and to individuals who are pregnant.
Inquiries concerning Title IX may be addressed to: Title IX Coordinator.
A person may also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding an alleged violation of Title IX by visiting www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html or calling 800-421-3481.
The campus coordinator for Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibiting discrimination based on disability) is Stephen D. Schutt, President.
Statement on a Harassment Free Environment
The College prohibits harassment based on sex, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious affiliation, sexual orientation or preference, age, marital or family status, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. Prohibited harassment includes, but is not limited to, the use or expression of epithets, slurs, intimidation, negative stereotyping, threats, assault or any physical interference with an individual’s normal work or movement. Harassment may also include written or graphic material placed on walls, bulletin boards, College-related websites or social media, or elsewhere on the College’s premises that denigrates, shows hostility or aversion towards an individual or group because of the characteristics identified above.
For information on sexual harassment or misconduct, see the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.