Colleges design more effective response to hate and bias

An acute rash of hate crimes on America’s campuses has made it necessary for institutions to refine reporting procedures.

The streamlined policy at The University of Maryland, College Park, calls for community members to report hate-bias incidents to the university’s police department or to the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct, says Roger Worthington, the school’s chief diversity officer.

After an incident is reviewed, the offices inform each other and decide on a response (such as expulsion) with the appropriate campus administrators. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion coordinates responses and provides counseling and other services to those affected.

The Office of Diversity no longer investigates incidents, unless there is a question of federal compliance. An incident report log, under works, will be available to the general public to ensure transparency.

The website will be updated to include incident verification and resolution, and will include names only if there are criminal offenses, says Worthington.

Verifying hate incidents is particularly important when keeping accurate records. For example, a recent report of a swastika was false—the graffiti in question depicted Muslim symbolism. These new steps will help to mitigate misunderstanding around incidents, as well as promote an open dialogue around events as they occur.

The university will also hire a hate-bias response coordinator to provide prevention programming focused on keeping track of  response and support services.

“Response starts to sound reactive,” says Worthington. “We want to restructure how we are doing diversity on campus.”

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