News, University News

UCS discusses bias-related reporting

Changes to existing complaint form considered to encompass range of offenses

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 12, 2018

A newly drafted student complaint form emphasizes the inclusion of specific and objective language in reporting bias-based and less-targeted offenses, which UCS members hope to implement by the end of the semester.

​​The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed a draft of a form intended to improve the process for reporting bias-motivated incidents at the University during its general body meeting Wednesday.

Although UCS President Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 noted that the University has not committed to changing the reporting form, she said the involvement of “administrative divisions” including the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost makes her “feel really confident that something good is going to get done.”

“This is something that we’re hoping will be (in use) by the end of the semester,” Steele said.

Steele introduced the possibility of revising the current reporting form to make it more “robust” at a general body meeting in November, The Herald previously reported​​. Once finalized, this document would replace the current complaint form for such incidents, Steele said.

The draft of the revised form, which Steele emailed to general body members earlier this week, includes more space for elaboration and some questions that are more specific than those included in the discrimination and harassment complaint form available on the OIED’s website​.

Instead of asking for a “summary of allegations,” for instance, the revised form asks the complainant to “provide a detailed description of the incident using specific, concise, objective language.”

Because the revised form also allows complainants to report occurrences that are not bias-related, UCS Parliamentarian Austin Lessin ’19 and Jonathan Jaramillo ’18 suggested that the name of the form reflect the full range of reportable incidents.

For instance, Jaramillo noted that hazing could be reported through this form, but is not always bias-related.

“What if it’s hazing not as a result of bias at all?” Jaramillo asked. “What if it’s straight white men hazing other straight white men?”

In smaller group discussions, Jaramillo and Lessin discussed calling the form a “bias, harm and violence reporting system” to include all types of incidents students could report.

Steele asked the general body how they felt the student body could best be “prepared to be able to engage with (the form)” while also feeling “supported along the process of reporting.”

To this end, members of the general body stressed the importance of providing clarity about the complainant’s anonymity and information about the timeline and potential outcomes of any events following the submission of a report.

Steele said she will update the general body following a meeting with Shontay Delalue, vice president for institutional equity and diversity.

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