The Bias Response Team serves as a safe and confidential resource for students to raise immediate concerns regarding specific incidents of bias or discrimination that impact the Buena Vista University campus community and to create a supportive environment that allows students to voice opinions and concerns
What Is a Bias Incident?
A bias incident is any discriminatory or hurtful act that appears to be or is perceived by the victim to be motivated by but not limited to actual or perceived race, ethnicity, age, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, veteran status, citizenship status, socioeconomic status or other social identities. To be considered an incident, the act is not required to be a crime under any federal, state or local statutes, nor does it have to violate university policy.
Bias is a human condition and often reflects unconscious prejudices. We are all shaped by our distinct experiences, and we perceive ourselves and others in relation to those experiences. As a fact of humanity, bias cannot be eradicated; nonetheless it must be engaged thoughtfully, honestly and respectfully. Bias is often unintentional and may not be perceived as aggressive or disrespectful by the responsible party. When bias is not conscientiously named and addressed, it can compound to create negative environments for those affected and/or can escalate into more overt acts of discrimination or criminal behaviors.
What is a Hate Crime?
To be a hate crime, an act of bias or discrimination must be criminal – not merely an expression of an intolerant opinion. According to Iowa State law, a hate crime is a crime committed against a person of their property “because of the person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability, or the person’s association with a person of a certain race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability.” (Iowa Code 792A.2) It is important to note that while all hate crimes are bias incidents, not all bias incidents are hate crimes.
The Bias Response Team contributes to advancing the diversity and inclusiveness of the campus community as well as enhancing the learning environment by ensuring that all members have a means to share incidents that may negatively affect their sense of belonging and their ability to be successful.
We understand that the Bias Response Team is one of the many ways that the Buena Vista University maintains a safe and welcoming campus climate. The Bias Response Team is comprised of the following members:
- Ebony King, Director of Multicultural Engagement
- Bethany Larson, Professor of Theatre
- Portia Gresham, Area Coordinator (Grand, Liberty, Suites)
- Jeremy Curry, Admissions Counselor & Outside Linebackers Football Coach
- Kelsey Clausen, Director of Communications
- Emerald Jones, Junior Political Science Major
The university will strive to protect, to the greatest extent possible, the confidentiality of persons reporting to the Bias Response Team and of those involved in the reported incident. The Bias Response Team cannot guarantee complete confidentiality where it would conflict with the university’s obligation to investigate meaningfully or, where warranted, take corrective action, such as if we believe you or someone is at risk for physical harm. Regardless of the situation, personal information will only be shared with individuals with a legitimate need to know, in compliance with university policy.