Bias Incident Response Task Force Report

October 2012

Summary1

On November 11, 2011, the words “All Niggers Must Die” were written on a wall on the fourth floor of Prospect Hall. This hate crime caused a large number of our Black community members to feel targeted and unsafe and, overall, placed extraordinary stress on the fabric of the campus. A variety of associated issues and concerns were exposed in subsequent open mic events, campus conversations, and related gatherings. Among the concerns that were raised by many members of the campus community were pointed criticisms of the administration’s initial response to, and early communications about, the crime.

President Falk commissioned the Bias Incident Response Task Force (BIRTF) as the central component of a detailed debriefing of both the initial incident response and related protocols. The task force was composed of faculty, students, and staff, whose names are listed at the end of the body of the report. In his charge to the group, President Falk provided the following guidance:

In general, the task force will develop its own agenda and follow the course set by its members. At a minimum, I would expect that topics and activities would include:

  • Learning about best practices and the technical and legal approaches to understanding bias-related incidents
  • Identifying and facilitating bias incident reporting strategies, including on-line reporting systems
  • Providing a framework for the ongoing evaluation and refinement of current response protocols
  • Discussing internal and external communication following various types of incidents
  • Discussing how we work with external agencies, primarily law enforcement
  • Discussing the possibility of creating a bias incident response team as some campuses have done

As early as our first meeting, we recognized the degree to which our work was likely to expand beyond our initial commission. As the year progressed, in addition to designing a bias response protocol, the task force invested a substantial amount of time reviewing issues of prevention, training, counseling, and communication. Overall, we sought to create a “living” protocol that would balance fluid, nimble response options with fundamental procedures to which we’d be committed in all cases. We agreed that our incident reporting tools and processes should be as accessible, simple, intuitive, comfortable, and supportive as possible and we must ensure that whoever needs immediate access should feel that there are no “wrong” doors into any of them.

Perhaps most important, we affirmed the need to ensure that we’re providing immediate, meaningful, and effective support to the most affected parties, after which we should expand our support to individuals and groups as we track the impact of the incident across campus and over time.  This includes the establishment of physical and virtual safe spaces for post-event processing and dialogue, as well as additional components of an institutional infrastructure of counseling and support.

We read and discussed the two most recent Department of Justice papers about campus hate crimes, published in 2000 and 2001. These documents served as discussion points and reference materials early in the process. We then reviewed the policies and incident reporting websites of twelve other colleges and universities as well as some Williams sites, including those for Williams Speaks Up, The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity – Discrimination and Sexual Harassment/ Misconduct, and the Office of the Dean of the College. We discussed how these sites were working, what we thought was worth duplicating and what we thought we could build on in terms of greater use of existing college resources. The lessons from these discussions are embedded in our recommendations.

One of the most important actions we took to gather detailed experiential data about the climate on campus was to invite a set of colleagues to share their thoughts and observations regarding the quality of campus experience for students, faculty, and staff. Our conversations focused on the impacts of the “microagressions” experienced in everyday campus life, most often by students, although certainly not limited to them. These conversations were perhaps the most educational component of our work together in terms of clarifying the range of complex cultural challenges we have to address.

As we approached the final month of the semester, we broke into sub-groups, each of which was charged with drafting a set of recommendations either for implementation and/or further study. These topics were:

  • Bias Incident Crisis Management and Communication Protocol
  • Bias Incident Prevention and Response Infrastructure
  • Reporting Website Development
  • Communications & Education

The work of these sub-groups comprises the central output of the task force. Their reports, included below, contain the following recommendations.

  • adoption of the proposed protocols for incident response and communications
  • forming of a Bias Incident Response Team
  • establishment of physical and virtual safe spaces for post-incident processing and dialogue as well as additional infrastructure of counseling and support
  • training of a corps of student, faculty, and staff counselors to support victims and those who may have observed an incident
  • development of a streamlined web site at which to report an incident
  • provision of additional informal ways than currently exist for people to process their experiences
  • campaigns to increase awareness of issues surrounding bias incidents and crimes: their definitions, how to report them, what happens to those reports, and what support structures are in place
  • fuller recognition that staff and faculty can be targets of bias
  • provision of bystander training for anyone who wants it among faculty, staff, and students
  • partnering in educational campaigns with Students Against Silence.

These represent immediate steps toward the vital, longer-term effort to change the campus climate to one that ever more fully includes all of its members regardless of their differences.

Introduction – Why We Formed and What We Planned To Do

On November 11, 2011, the words “All Niggers Must Die” were written on a wall on the fourth floor of Prospect Hall. This hate crime caused a large number of our Black community members to feel targeted and unsafe and, overall, placed extraordinary stress on the fabric of the campus. A variety of associated issues and concerns were exposed in subsequent open mic events, campus conversations, and related gatherings. Among the concerns that were raised by many members of the campus community were pointed criticisms of the administration’s initial response to, and early communications about, the crime.

President Falk commissioned the Bias Incident Response Task Force (BIRTF) as the central component of a detailed debriefing of both the initial incident response and related protocols. The task force was composed of faculty, students and staff, whose names are listed at the end of the body of the report. In his charge to the group, President Falk provided the following guidance:

In general, the task force will develop its own agenda and follow the course set by its members. At a minimum, I would expect that topics and activities would include:

  • Learning about best practices and the technical and legal approaches to understanding bias-related incidents
  • Identifying and facilitating bias incident reporting strategies, including on-line reporting systems
  • Providing a framework for the ongoing evaluation and refinement of current response protocols
  • Discussing internal and external communication following various types of incidents
  • Discussing how we work with external agencies, primarily law enforcement
  • Discussing the possibility of creating a bias incident response team as some campuses have done

In our introductory meeting, task force members discussed our goals, interests, and concerns. It was during this discussion that we recognized the degree to which our work was likely to expand beyond our initial commission. As the year progressed, in addition to designing a bias response protocol, the task force invested a substantial amount of time reviewing issues of prevention, training, counseling, and communication. To address these and related topics more effectively, the task force split up into topical sub-groups and reports from each of these smaller units are included near the end of this report.

Overall, we sought to create a “living” protocol that would balance providing fluid, nimble response options and fundamental procedures to which we’d be committed in all cases. We agreed that our incident reporting tools and processes should be as accessible, simple, intuitive, comfortable, and supportive as possible and we must ensure that whoever needs immediate access should feel that there are no “wrong” doors into any of them.

Perhaps most important, we affirmed the need to ensure that we’re providing immediate, meaningful, and effective support to the most affected parties, after which we should expand our support to individuals and groups as we track the impact of the incident across campus and over time.  This includes the establishment of physical and virtual safe spaces for post-event processing and dialogue, as well as additional components of an institutional infrastructure of counseling and support.

Our goals included developing a bias incident response “playbook” in the form of well-documented steps to take and issues to consider when faced with any of a range of bias-related incidents. One of our objectives was to reduce the amount of initial decision-making for first responders by providing a set of fixed procedures to be followed upon arrival at the scene. In the case of a possible hate crime, for example, we want to be certain that we’re following effective investigative standards to preserve evidence, that we work in a timely and effective manner with external law enforcement agencies, and that we maximize our chances of identifying those responsible.

Additionally, we must communicate with our many internal and external constituencies in as clear, accurate, and timely a manner as is appropriate to each case, all within the broader context of our legal responsibilities. We also discussed the importance of providing different types of training on these issues for those directly involved in any aspect of responding to bias incidents, including those who support the members of our campus community who have been most affected by them. The particular importance of providing effective training for both JAs and Baxter Fellows, for example, underscores the critical role of our residential life program to sustaining the quality of community experience for students.

The task force also discussed aspects of the response mechanism that were largely procedural. Clarity, intentionality, and consistency were oft-repeated watchwords throughout our meetings as illustrated in the following statements:

  • That the foundation for all of our communication of this work is clarity that these behaviors are not tolerated on our campus
  • That we remain intentional about identifying blind spots and discussing remedies
  • That recognizing that we couldn’t cover everything during this first, semester-long discussion, we need to treat this as an ongoing, iterative process. We should also build in a debriefing phase after each future incident.

The combination of President Falk’s clear articulation of his expectations and the broad set of objectives developed by the members of the task force provided a strong foundation for our work. We returned often to these goals and objectives – and the serious concerns that drove their articulation – to guide our work.

What We Did

The task force met seven times, typically for 90 minutes or longer, between January 23rd and the last week of classes.  Despite the tight schedules of our members we were fortunate to have a majority of the group present each time.

Our first meeting focused on learning as much as possible about the expectations each member had for the task force process as well as our individual and collective perceptions of the micro and macro institutional challenges involved[1]. We posted on a wiki all of our minutes and working documents, including the papers published by the Department of Justice that are described below.

Our meetings throughout the course of the semester consisted of a number of activities that are described in more detail below.

Document, Policy and Website Review

We posted to the wiki the two most recent Department of Justice papers about campus hate crimes, published in 2000 and 2001. These served as discussion points and reference materials early in the process.

Subsequent meetings were spent reviewing the policies and incident reporting websites of the following institutions:

We also reviewed some Williams sites: those of Williams Speaks Up, The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity – Discrimination and Sexual Harassment/Misconduct, and the Office of the Dean of the College. We discussed how these sites were working, what we thought was worth duplicating and, perhaps most importantly, what we thought we could build on in terms of greater use of existing college resources. The lessons from these discussions are embedded in our recommendations.

Conversations With Invited Guests

One of the most important actions we took to gather detailed experiential data about the climate on campus was to invite a set of colleagues to share their thoughts and observations regarding the quality of campus experience for students, faculty, and staff. Our conversations focused on the impacts of the “microagressions” experienced in everyday campus life, most often by students, although certainly not limited to them. These conversations were perhaps the most educational component of our work together in terms of clarifying the range of complex cultural challenges we have to address.

Our guests were, in alphabetical order:

  • justin adkins, Assistant Director-Gender, Sexuality and Activism at the Multicultural Center
  • Joyce Foster, Director of Academic Resources
  • Rick Spalding, Chaplain to the College and Coordinator of Community Service
  • Beverly Williams, Psychotherapist and Director of Multicultural Outreach, Department of Health Services
  • Bob Wright, Associate Director of Human Resources

Sub-Groups

As we approached the final month of the semester, we broke into sub-groups, each of which was charged with drafting a set of recommendations either for implementation and/or further study. The work of these sub-groups comprises the central output of the task force, and their reports are included in this document as central pieces to our implementation plan. These topics were:

  • Bias Incident Crisis Management and Communication Protocol (the aforementioned “playbook” and associated communications pieces)
  • Bias Incident Prevention and Response Infrastructure
  • Reporting Website Development
  • Communications & Education
What We Learned

We recorded nearly two dozen pages of official minutes over the course of more than twelve hours of meetings. Rather than repeat everything in those notes, our approach here will be largely thematic with a sense of some of the supporting detail.

Document, Policy, and Website Review

The quickest response to a report is prompted by contacting Campus Safety directly and, if the caller prefers to remain anonymous, Campus Safety’s anonymous Tip Line is set up to bounce messages via cellular texts and email alerts to the appropriate responders. The next quickest response is prompted by dialing 911. When a 911 call is made, Campus Safety is automatically notified.

If, however, the reporter does not want to use any of these communication tools, it was stressed that a reporting website needs to be intuitive to find and use. We discussed the pros and cons of password protection. On the one hand, this can help guard against inappropriate use. At the same time, it can slow down use by victims or bystanders who are likely to be under duress. A suggested compromise was to use a reporting form that wouldn’t require a log-in until the complainant reached a certain point in the on-line process.

The first critical step in ensuring ease of use is to locate the site as intuitively as possible to optimize its appearing atop a search for the kinds of words that will most likely represent what a victim or witness is experiencing at the time – e.g.  racism, hate-crime, other discrimination, etc. Our existing Discrimination/Sexual Harassment site works well in this regard. In general, though, while we want to design an intuitive, easy-to-use site, it’s our hope that someone who has experienced a serious bias incident will call Security first. To ensure the likelihood of that, we’ll need to get that word out to campus via an effective and consistent marketing campaign.

Websites at Berkeley, Hamilton, and Colgate each had some traits that we liked and some that we would avoid or rework. For example, Colgate’s was found to be dense and handbook-like.  It provides a tremendous amount of information – much of which is generally important – but wading through it all could prove cumbersome for someone who is in distress and/or just trying to report an incident. The group felt that it’s better to have a more intuitive, accessible site like those at Hamilton and Berkeley. Those sites linked to additional policy information as optional click-throughs, thus placing the fuller materials behind the screens where those using the site first make the responder(s) aware of the situation s/he has just gone through.

We also spent significant time discussing the challenge of getting victims and witnesses to report at all and, when they’re ready to report, to use any web-based tools. It’s our experience on this campus that these kinds of resources remain heavily under-used by both victims and witnesses. We need to be very clear on the site, on posters, and in all of our communications that there are multiple ways to report an incident. The quicker we can receive a report, so that we can both investigate and provide support to the victim(s), the better. We make several related recommendations later in this report from the communications and marketing sub-group.

When defining terms such as “hate crime” on our site, we should use the most technically legal language that incorporates all applicable federal and state statutory language. For those cases about which we need to alert the campus in a timely fashion, we should include a caveat in all-campus communications that we don’t yet have a legal classification of the crime/incident, but we’ve chosen to talk about it in this manner and will update the campus as we learn more about how law enforcement (if appropriate) will handle the situation.

Pointing on the site to the existence of specific bias incident counselors (assuming that we develop such a program) could go a long way toward making victims and witnesses comfortable in sharing their stories and concerns. It’s best to list individuals by name rather than by office in this regard. For example, on the webpage http://diversity.williams.edu/discrimination-harassment/, under the heading of Sexual Harassment/Misconduct – Campus Safety and Security, it would be better to list names instead of departments to personalize this first point of contact. We also discussed the benefits of including a flow chart so that users can understand what happens with the information they input.

Simplicity in appearance and substance was emphasized when it comes to any reporting mechanism. People may be deterred if the first page appears dense or full of jargon. We believe that it’s best to start with the kind of clean, informative approach on the Berkeley and Hamilton sites to avoid diluting with peripheral issues the urgency of reporting.

We discussed the use of other media to link users to reporting and related information, including mobile apps, scan codes on posters, etc., and felt that it would be particularly effective if these media could be linked to readily available posters such as the effective ones in RASAN’s campaigns. These posters have the added advantage of contributing to our consistent message that the Williams community does not tolerate this type of behavior. We recommend the development of a shared design for all of these related communications so that they’re instantly recognizable as important components of our broad, central message.

We spent significant time discussing the challenges to ensuring that the reporting website is viewed and that the resources it lists are used. For example, although the sexual harassment advisors are trained and the existing site is kept current, the advisors are rarely called upon for support. Key questions discussed included:

  • How does it help our community if these mechanisms are put into place, but go unused?
  • How do we communicate our awareness that the problems exist and that we have instituted mechanisms to address them?
  • How do we keep this information fresh and in front of the community on a consistent basis?

In response we focused on a proactive and consistent educational campaign, emphasizing simple but consistent communication vehicles such as First Days conversations, handing out flyers, placing posters in residence halls and other student-centric spaces, etc. The central message is that all campus members are responsible for our own behaviors and for reporting and responding to behaviors that the college has stated clearly are unacceptable.

Here’s a brief overview of existing Williams sites:

  • Williams Speaks Uphttps://web.williams.edu/go/williamsspeaksup/index.php – a now-defunct on-line bias incident reporting system – based partially on a similar site at Wesleyan, which the college created relatively quickly after the 2008 racist and homophobic incidents. It was initially designed to collect and archive reports of bias incidents over time rather than to act as a real-time, interactive reporting tool. The site needs work if it’s to become a robust and intuitive reporting site, and, if we decide to re-launch it, it will require an effective communications campaign.
  • The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity maintains a related site intended primarily for staff and faculty – http://diversity.williams.edu/discrimination-harassment/. It’s well-constructed and informative, and it defines terms, guides on steps to take, and names the trained peers who can help process an incident with victims, bystanders, or those disturbed by something they’ve experienced but are unsure about what to do in response.
  • The Dean of the College’s website – http://dean.williams.edu/ – especially the Policies and Procedures section, is considered both helpful and intuitive. The task force particularly liked the “escape hatch” feature that enables users to jump from the site to the Williams homepage if they’re worried about someone looking over their shoulder. You can then click back directly to the site when it’s comfortable to do so.


Postscript

As we neared the end of our process, several Task Force members expressed a desire to continue various conversation threads exploring strategies to improve the quality of student, faculty, and staff campus experiences. Such conversations are likely to be oriented more toward important issues of campus climate rather than the logistical and organizational recommendations developed by this Task Force. We observed that there are important connections between the work that Students Against Silence (SAS) is doing in its subcommittees and the topics that the Task Force wanted to continue discussing. With these connections in mind, we recommend that this next phase of conversations be merged with the work of the appropriate Students Against Silence subcommittee(s).

This is vital, ongoing work and the campus will benefit from keeping these conversations alive in parallel with the significant efforts needed to implement the recommendations in this report.

Task Force Members

Lois Banta, Associate Professor of Biology

Sarah Bolton, Dean of the College, Professor of Physics

David Boyer, Director of Campus Safety and Security

Maya Hawkins-Nelson ’14

Aaron Kelton,  Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Coach of Football

Stephen Klass, Vice President for Campus Life (chair)

Jordan Mickens ’12

Michael Reed, Vice President for Strategic Planning & Institutional Diversity

Malik Nashad Sharpe ’14

Lauren Shuffleton ’12

Taj Smith, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center

Jorge Tena ’12

Claire Ting, Associate Professor of Biology

 

APPENDIX A

Conversations With Invited Guests

Our guest speakers came from a variety of offices and campus vantage points. We’ve collected some salient points from these discussions and present them here, not as a systematic analysis, but as a limited synopsis of a set of informative conversations.

Staff and Faculty Issues

We need to include staff and faculty when addressing bias-related and campus climate issues. Staff members have reported issues of bullying and sexual harassment, and there is a perception that even more activity is goes unreported, primarily because of concerns over retribution. Also, because so many of our staff are neighbors in the local community and many family members work here together, all of the complex issues surrounding these kinds of behaviors overlap in counterproductive ways, making it particularly difficult for individuals to call out their colleagues. In addition, when such issues are raised, the cases and their outcomes must be held in confidence. So, when complaints are addressed, none of the details of the case – including the outcomes – will ever be made public by the college.

Other issues can affect the desire of staff and (usually untenured) faculty to report situations. Formal grievance procedures that seem long and overwhelming might impede reporting.  The structural power dynamic inherent in any bureaucracy also likely suppresses reporting due to fears of reprisal from a supervisor or senior department member. We need to take relational dynamics into account when we think about the interactions between junior and tenured faculty and between various levels of staff. And while inter-student exchanges aren’t typically affected by these kinds of hierarchical structures, this kind of concern comes into play when students decide whether or not to complain about the behavior of faculty.

Formal and Informal Reporting Venues

When staff do report a situation to Human Resources, they often don’t want anything specific to be done; they just wanted someone to listen. We learned from our colleagues that this is often the case with students and junior faculty as well. Many times, people mostly seek a comfortable, inviting environment in which they can share their stories and concerns with an active listener. Reporting – as a formal action with a desired outcome – isn’t always what they desire. Frequently, people just want to have an outlet, an informal place to go and talk about uncomfortable experiences.

It was the opinion of some of our guests that allowing for these more informal approaches will provide useful outlets for pent-up concerns that are often generated by “low-level microagressions.” A group of trained counselors could provide a cathartic outlet, offer guidance to resources (even walk people to other offices for more formal support), and allow us to develop a greater understanding of the issues at stake. These suggestions are addressed in the Infrastructure sub-group report below.

The Experience of Women On Campus

We discussed the quality of life and concerns for the safety of women on campus. As has been discussed over the course of the past year in multiple campus forums and in emails from the President and from the Dean, sexual assault is a critical issue that our campus will have to continue to address from multiple perspectives. While progress has been made over the past year or so, we have a significant amount of work to accomplish to ensure a fully safe and respectful campus experience for all women. We heard the comment that women are treated much differently at night and on weekends than they are during the day. Another speaker began by observing that the campus still exudes a culture of historical male privilege, that we need to shift the culture, and that, for us to succeed, men will need to help lead. The new student group Men for Consent was called “revolutionary” and held up as an excellent example of the kind of effort necessary to shift the prevailing campus culture.

Alcohol culture

Campus alcohol culture is entrenched and pervasive and was a key feature in all student conversations. It broadly affects the physical and psychological health of students as well as the quality of life on campus. More students are coming to Williams from cultures and backgrounds that don’t use alcohol in these ways. While this presents some hope for a reduction of alcohol abuse, we learned that these students currently either find a way to navigate the culture here or a) they get pulled into unhealthy drinking habits or b) they feel marginalized as “strangers in a strange land.”

The effect of alcohol abuse on sexual assault and related behaviors is significant. One of our guests observed that men arrive on campus socialized to believe that women need to be intoxicated to hook up, with the result that impaired women in particular are targeted.

The “Culture of Silence”

Perhaps the most frustrating – and enabling – campus condition is what students and others have termed the “culture of silence.” In fact, the name of the student organization that developed in response to the Prospect hate crime is Students Against Silence. While we recognized the highly complex nature of this phenomenon, our conversations focused on a couple of related questions:

  1. What prevents students, faculty, and staff from taking advantage of the reporting websites and formal support structures that exist? If people want to talk about their experiences and concerns, are there unknown barriers to using existing channels more frequently and consistently?
  2. What is it about our campus culture that allows students to believe they can behave like this? Once they leave here for graduate school or the workplace, their behavior changes, by and large, because they know this isn’t acceptable anywhere else. Why does it feel acceptable to them here?

The students on the Task Force explained that this is such a small, interconnected place that if you do something that leads to a falling-out with your team or your close circle of friends, you have few places left to turn. The prevailing social pressure – particularly on women – is not to make waves, not to “make life harder than it needs to be.” There was a strong perception that more people would report acts of discrimination, harassment, and assault if the social backlash to reporting weren’t so strong.

This perception that Williams’ size and distinctive social interconnectedness – typically considered to be positive features – work against us in this way resonates with our perceptions of why staff and faculty also hesitate to report the incidents of discrimination that they deal with.

Religious bias

We discussed the perception that bias against religion and against students, faculty, and staff who identify as religious is a serious campus issue. We also framed this as an issue of identity, not simply as a matter of membership. Biased speech that targets students who are believers can be deep, painful, and highly personal. Pastoral relationships with, and support for, religious students are very important, and go well beyond basic therapeutic relationships. In fact, these pastoral relationships have been immensely important to secular students as well.

Faculty In the Classroom                                   

Students, faculty, and staff all identified a general sense that issues triggered by faculty behaviors in the classroom aren’t addressed consistently or well. This is another area where the authority dynamic inhibits willingness to come forward and many students who are affected by language and related issues that arise in a classroom feel they have nowhere to turn. One general issue was raised along these lines: that continued formal education of faculty and staff over issues of heteronormative language and expectations is critical.

Education

As one would hope at a learning institution, education was the dominant theme throughout our conversations. As we said time and time again, whatever resources we develop, we’ll need to support them with significant and consistent educational efforts.

Some of the specific strategies and concepts that we discussed include:

  • Holding regular forums on these issues rather than solely continually responding to specific negative events
  • The potential power of inter-generational conversations and relationships between students with faculty and staff
  • Defining the difference between hate crimes and microagressions
  • Helping discern between criminal/actionable incidents and those that result from stupidity and insensitivity
  • Helping faculty and staff distinguish between bias incidents and matters that can be pursued through existing HR channels
  • Articulating, to the extent possible, what the consequences can be for various behaviors and actions. Not having at least a basic understanding of the range of consequences leaves people with minimal incentive to report an incident. This knowledge would also reinforce the message that these behaviors are not tolerated here.

These conversations with our colleagues were deeply affecting. While the Task Force was commissioned primarily to develop a clearer protocol for how to respond most effectively to bias-related campus incidents, the breadth and depth of this report are a direct outcome of these conversations, which, in particular, added substantively to the work of our sub-groups.

APPENDIX B

Bias Incident Management and Communication Protocol

This draft plan begins with directions for the dispatcher receiving an incident report. The following sections are distinguished by whether the victim(s) is student, faculty, or staff. Many of the steps are similar, but there are some key differences, particularly in who is the responsible senior staff member. We recognize that there will be incidents and crimes – such as the Prospect hate crime –  that don’t target one of these specific groups but are aimed, rather, at members of all three. When such incidents are first reported, the response will likely be based on the location of the offending act; the Bias Incident Response Team (described below) will sort out the details and implement the most effective response possible at the time.

Student Victim(s)

Site

  1. CSS Dispatcher receives call that a bias-related incident may have occurred and sends an officer to respond to the scene
  2. Responding officer
    1. Locates victim(s) or person who witnessed the behavior
      1. Documents what they know and what they need in terms of support
    2. Stays with the victim(s) as appropriate until other support arrives (e.g., Dean, Dean-on-Call, etc.)
    3. Documents site with photos, notes, etc.
    4. Protects site as crime scene when appropriate
    5. Does not remove offensive materials until instructed to do so
      1. As much as possible or necessary, covers offending materials – without disturbing a possible crime scene or accidentally removing physical evidence – to prevent them from harming others
    6. Assists police or other law officers as called for
    7. Consults with the CSS Director, Dean of the College, VP for Campus Life, Bias Incident Response Team, and law enforcement officials on immediate investigative steps, including how to maintain the site

 

Communications

  1. Dispatch receives report of incident and, after sending officer to site, calls:
    1. CSS Director
      1. Calls:
        1. Williamstown Police Department (PD)
        2. Dean of the College
    2. CSS Shift Supervisor
      1. Works with Director and PD to manage on-site investigation
    3. Dean-on-Call
      1. Contacts victim(s)
      2. May come to campus, pending communication with Dean and victim(s)
  2. Dean of the College – depending on the nature of the incident, the Dean may contact:
    1. VP for Campus Life
    2. President
    3. VP for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity
    4. Bias Incident Response Team (see description below)
    5. Contacts and directs activities of other support offices, including:
      1. Multicultural Center
      2. Health Center, Psychological Counseling Services
      3. Chaplains
      4. Deans
      5. Coaches

Faculty and Staff Victim(s)

Site

  1. CSS Dispatcher receives call that a bias-related incident may have occurred and sends an officer to respond to the scene
  2. Responding officer
    1. Locates victim(s) or person who witnessed the behavior
      1. Documents what they know and what they need in terms of support
    2. Stays with the victim(s) as appropriate until other support arrives (e.g., Dean, Dean-on-Call, etc.)
    3. Documents site with photos, notes, etc.
    4. Protects site as crime scene when appropriate
    5. Does not remove offensive materials until instructed to do so
      1. As much as possible or necessary, covers offending materials – without disturbing a possible crime scene or accidentally removing physical evidence – to prevent them from harming others
    6. Assists police or other law officers as called for
    7. Consults with the CSS Director, Dean of the College, VP for Campus Life, Bias Incident Response Team, and law enforcement officials on immediate investigative steps, including how to maintain the site

Communications

  1. Dispatch receives report of incident and, after sending officer to site, calls:
    1. CSS Director
      1. Calls:
        1. Police Department
        2. Dean of the Faculty
    2. CSS Shift Supervisor
      1. Works with Director and Police Department to manage on-site investigation
  2. Dean of the Faculty (if faculty) or Vice President for Campus Life (if staff) – depending on the nature of the incident, the Dean or Vice President may contact:
    1. Victim(s)
      1. May come to campus to meet with victim(s)
    2. President
    3. VP for SPID
    4. Dean of the College
    5. VP for Campus Life
    6. Bias Incident Response Team (see description below)

 

APPENDIX C

Infrastructure Sub-Group Report

1.     Bias Incident Response Team

  • Reports to President
  • Is convened by Dean of the College if victim is a student; by the Dean of the Faculty if the victim is a faculty member; by the VP for Campus Life if the victim is a staff member
  • Team composition:
    • Dean of the College
    • VP for Campus Life
    • VP for Strategic Planning & Institutional Diversity
    • Assistant to the President for Public Affairs/Director of Communications
    • Director of Campus Safety and Security
  • Has operational control of all aspects of situation
    • Acts as central clearinghouse for information regarding investigation
    • Monitors condition of victim(s)
    • Makes recommendations regarding strategic addition/placement of security staff, PD forces, etc.
  • Makes recommendations regarding communications protocol and initiates communications chain, including the following constituencies in varying sequences, depending on the details of the individual incident:
    • President, Assistant to the President and Other Senior Staff
    • General campus communication
    • College Counsel
    • Other student leaders (e.g., CC, MinCo, etc.)
    • Board of Trustees
    • Director of Admission
    • Alumni – via VP for College Relations
    • Families – via Dean of the College and VP for College Relations
    • Town officials

     

2.     Counselors, Advisors

  • We recommend building on the current program of sexual harassment complaint advisors (and, perhaps, coming up with another name for this role)
  • We believe that the nature of this kind of counseling may make it easier to recruit interested, talented staff and faculty to participate
    • More interesting work
    • More proactive work
    • We can solicit from across a wider spectrum of campus
    • These mechanisms are already in place and the work is relatively straightforward for the right person
  • We strongly recommend that training be provided by an external consultant
  • We would have to carefully define roles so that the legal implications relative to confidentiality and liability are carefully articulated and well understood. Those involved will need to know what is reportable and what the individual’s rights to confidentiality are
    • They will need to warn the client before the session begins that some things are legally mandated to be reported
    • After every conversation, they should ask the client to state explicitly what he or she wants to have happen next, and whether each aspect of the information shared could be reported or not

 3.     Other Existing Resources – Informal and More Formal

We have colleagues in a variety of offices who play important counseling roles in ways that are both formal and informal. Creating a comfortable, inviting environment within which people can share their concerns is an important element of whatever we develop in addition to formal reporting structures.

People don’t always want to report something officially; sometimes they just want to have an outlet–someone to talk to about a troubling experience or environment. Sometimes just providing an opportunity to hang out and talk about a wide range of topics with an active listener will bring out helpful information. It’s important not to over-formalize our approach. In whatever resources we develop, we should always allow for these kinds of informal discussions as important and useful outlets for pent-up concerns–many times just low-level microagressions–that don’t rise to the level of a reportable offense, but are still unsettling enough that the victim or witness would benefit greatly from a conversation with a trusted person.

A counselor can provide that kind of informal, cathartic outlet and offer advice on resources as well as follow-up, and can offer to walk the individuals to the appropriate office for more formal support if they’re uncomfortable going on their own.

 

APPENDIX D

DRAFT Incident Report Form

If you are currently in a situation where immediate police, medical, psychological, or other emergency services are needed, call 911 or Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.

This form can be used for:

–       reporting bias incidents (including those listed here), whether you want to pursue disciplinary action or not, or whether you want to remain anonymous or not

–       connecting you with the help and support you want or need

–       creating a repository of bias incidents that have happened at Williams.

You can find more information about this form, how bias incidents are defined, and how they’re dealt with at Williams in this FAQ. If you have any questions about this form or concerns about bias incidents that aren’t answered on this website, please contact someone who can help.

What is your campus affiliation?

[student]

[faculty]

[staff]

[visitor]

[other: ______________]

 

Date & time of incident: _______________

 

Location of incident: _________________

 

What was your association with the incident?

[victim]

[observer]

[heard about it]

 

Description of incident: ________________

 

Have you reported this incident to anyone?

If yes:

To whom? __________

What was the response? ___________

Are you satisfied with the response? ____________

If no:

Would you like us to follow up with you? Learn more about your options here.

If yes, please be sure to include your contact information below.

If no, is there a reason why you’ve not reported it and wish to remain anonymous? ____________________

 

OPTIONAL:

Note—while providing identifying information is optional, please remember that we can’t follow up on the incident unless we have your name and contact information. The report will remain unverified if you choose to stay anonymous, but it will still be kept in the repository. Learn more about this form and your options in reporting bias incidents here, or seek advice in person from someone on this list.

Name: ____________________

E-mail: ___________________

 

APPENDIX E

Communications & Education Sub-Group Report
Communications

Come up with a catchy slogan (i.e. Speak Up, Speak With, Speak Against Bias Incidents—work in progress) to use on buttons, t-shirts, stickers, whistles, water bottles, and lanyards that would also include the website to report a bias incident. Have JAs distribute during 2nd or 3rd entry meeting/snacks, and possibly during Purple Key Fair or the Community Resource Fair.

  1. During October or November put informational flyers in student mailboxes with quick tips on how and where to report, and perhaps a brief definition of bias or hate crime. Could broadly include whom people could talk to (i.e. advisors). Included should be the website address.
  2. Put table tents up or use napkin holders in all of the dining halls with quick tips on how and where to report, and a brief definition of bias or hate crime.
  3. Use food to entice people to attend events centered on educating or raising awareness of resources.
  4. Make use of the Super Fan of the Week that College Council uses during sporting games. Here we could throw into the crowd or pass out the t-shirts, buttons, magnets, stickers, etc.
Education
  1. Provide bystander training for anyone who wants it, open to faculty, administrators, staff, and students.
  2. Launch a campus-wide social norming poster campaign using statistics to educate people about actual campus behaviors as compared to their own attitudes and actions. For example, 60% of students on campus say they would speak up about a bias incident, but only 20% have actually reported or taken an action to address an incident.
  3. Use posters /flyers to inform people about what a hate crime is, or what a bias incident or a micro-aggression might be.
  4. Hold fora on different biases that can occur. Probably be best to work with Claiming Williams & MCC at least on these events.
  5. Invite a speaker or professor on campus to give a big talk about this at the start of the school year: e.g., Professor Crosby or Professor Fine.
  6. Encourage people to join RASAN, Men for Consent, or other student groups that speak to these issues. Committees could be included as well.
  7. Work with the Record to see if they’d be willing to start a column that would speak to some of the social norm campaign messages or to write about moments when people spoke out against bias.
  8. Encourage an ongoing dialogue on campus about these and related issues through debates, Storytime, etc…. Encourage the Leadership Council to foster interactions and collaborations among student groups.
Develop Partnerships (via Bias Response Team) with the following to develop additional ways to communicate and educate:

Coaches, student organizations, CDC, Claiming Williams, Health Services, JAs, Baxter Fellows, Storytime, Leadership Council, department chairs, other faculty, Student Life, and Human Resources.


[1] Chair’s Note: I’m deeply grateful to the task force members for their commitment of time and energy to this project, particularly as our work continued to unearth uncomfortable themes, disturbing anecdotes, and a sometimes unflattering picture of unacceptable aspects of community life at Williams.