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Student Life

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.

Lake Forest College has a Bias Incident Response Process (“BIR Process”) that is designed to respond to incidents in which students believe they have experienced biased treatment by other students, faculty, and/or staff.  Incidents of bias can be more difficult to define than harassment or discrimination, but 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 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.

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.

I. Student Claims of Student Bias

If a student believes another student has exhibited bias toward them, then the student may raise a complaint with the Director of Intercultural Relations. The student may make the complaint in person or by submitting a form online at https://www.lakeforest.edu/live/forms/197-report-a-bias-incident.

The College will endeavor to protect the privacy of any person reporting a potential bias incident, as well as any student who is the subject of a potential bias incident report, 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.

Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director of Intercultural Relations will conduct an initial assessment, which will consider the nature of the claim; the safety of the Complainant, any other individual and of the broad campus community; the Complainant’s expressed preference for resolution; and whether any interim remedies or accommodations are necessary to protect the safety of the Complainant or the community.

Following the initial assessment, the Director of Intercultural Relations will pursue an informal resolution that educates the Respondent about the impact of their bias on the Complainant and others  sharing an identity, and on the College community. This educational intervention can take many forms based upon the individualized approach needed, including but not limited to: learning assignments such as readings or workshops, coaching, or mediation (if appropriate and voluntary).

If the initial assessment leads the Director of Intercultural Relations – in consultation with the Dean of Students – to conclude that the complaint reveals more than an incident of bias, and that a violation of the College’s policies against discrimination and/or harassment may have occurred, then the matter will be referred to the campus conduct process or the separate procedures for addressing harassment and discrimination.

Each resolution process will be prompt, thorough, and unbiased, and resources will be available to provide support and guidance for all involved parties. Reasonable interim measures may also be provided, at the College’s discretion, if and when necessary.

The College is committed to treating all individuals with dignity, care and respect. A Complainant, Respondent, or any other individual impacted by a report of bias incident will have equal access to support, resources and counseling services throughout the College. The Office of Intercultural Relations can provide guidance in making decisions, obtaining information about available resources, and assisting any party.

II. Student Claims of Faculty Bias

If a student believes a faculty member has exhibited bias toward the student, then the student may raise a complaint with the faculty member’s Department Chair, the Dean of Students, or the Dean of Faculty. The student may make the complaint in person or by directing a confidential email to the department chair, Dean of Students, or Dean of Faculty. 

In responding to a student complaint, the Department Chair, Dean of Students, or Dean of Faculty, as the case may be, will follow the same basic process that the Director of the Office of Intercultural Relations employs to respond to a complaint alleging student bias, i.e., an initial assessment, informal resolution, and/or further adjudication if the complaint appears to reveal actual discrimination or harassment.

The College will endeavor to protect the privacy of any student reporting a potential bias incident, as well as any faculty member who is the subject of a potential bias incident report, 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.

III. Student Claims of Staff Bias

If a student believes a staff member has exhibited bias toward the student, then the student may raise a complaint with the staff member’s supervisor, the Dean of Students, or the Director of Human Resources. The student may make the complaint in person or by directing a confidential email to the supervisor, Dean of Students, or Director of Human Resources.

In responding to a student complaint about a staff member, the Director of Human Resources will follow the same basic process that the Director of the Office of Intercultural Relations employs to respond to a complaint alleging student bias, i.e., an initial assessment, informal resolution, and/or further adjudication if the complaint appears to reveal actual discrimination or harassment.

The College will endeavor to protect the privacy of any person reporting a potential bias incident, as well as any staff member who is the subject of a potential bias incident report, 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.

IV. Retaliation

Lake Forest College strictly prohibits retaliation against anyone for making a complaint of bias or for participating in an assessment of a bias complaint. Retaliation is any attempt to seek retribution against an individual or group of individuals who engaged in protected activities. Action in response to protected activities is retaliatory if (i) it has a materially adverse effect on the working, academic, or other College-controlled environment of an individual; and (ii) it would not have occurred in the absence of the protected activities. For more information, please review the College’s Policy on Non-Retaliation.

Anyone experiencing any conduct that they believe to be retaliatory should immediately report it to OIR, the Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of Students, or the Director of Human Resources, as appropriate.

V. Conflicts of Interest

If any participant in the assessment or investigation of an allegation of bias believes the investigator has a conflict of interest, the participant should contact the Director of Intercultural Relations, the Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of Students, or the Director of Human Resources, as appropriate.

 

APPENDICES 

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.