Bias Incident Report

Virginia Wesleyan University values our community and strives to have an inclusive and respectful environment for all members of the Marlin community. Every member of the Marlin community (faculty, staff, student, alumni, etc.) is essential in creating an inclusive and respectful community by treating others with dignity and respect regardless of their individual differences. It is important that we all take action against instances of bias and report all incidents that do not promote the kind of community that VWU values.

Bias Defined and Examples

According to Teaching Tolerancea bias incident is conduct, speech, or expression motivated, in whole or in part, by bias or prejudice. 

Identifying Bias Incidents

  • Slurs and epithets are used. 
  • Hate symbols -- or inflammatory symbols like nooses -- are used.
  • The perpetrator(s) admit their conduct was motivated by prejudice or that they selected the target(s) based on their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation or other identity factors.
  • The target(s) believe the incident was motivated by bias.
  • The target(s) engage openly in activities related to their race, ethnicity, or other identity characteristics, which attracts the perpetrator.
  • Possible involvement by an organized hate group or its members.

The difference between a bias incident and hate crime is that a hate crime is a criminal act that is committed against property or a person where the offender’s bias motivates them to take action against one, or more, of a victim’s identities.

Bias Incidents can fall within two areas:  Explicit or Conscious and Implicit or Unconscious (National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University). 

  • Explicit or Conscious bias, the individual is very clear about their feelings and attitudes, and related behaviors are conducted with intent. This type of bias is processed neurologically at a conscious level as declarative, semantic memory, and in words. Conscious bias in its extreme is characterized by overt negative behavior that can be expressed through physical and verbal harassment or through more subtle means such as exclusion.
  • Implicit or Unconscious bias operates outside of the person’s awareness and can be in direct contradiction to a person’s espoused beliefs and values. Unconscious bias automatically seeps into a person’s affect or behavior and is outside of the full awareness of that person.

As part of a college education, especially a liberal arts education, students are exposed to many different ideas within the classroom.  A student may become upset by or have concerns about material presented or a discussion done in the classroom by a faculty member during the teaching of a lesson.  It is vital for students to engage with their professors about materials presented in the class setting that the student may find offensive so that a discussion can be had regarding the lesson and information provided.

Reporting

Reporting a bias incident is not mandatory and can be done anonymously; however, not reporting a bias incident or submitting an anonymous report makes holding people accountable harder thereby allowing such bias to potentially continue.

You may submit a report by either of the following:

  • You can use the online report form that is linked below. Once you have completed and submitted the online form, you will be contacted by Dr. Brian Kurisky to discuss your report.
  • You may report the incident in-person by scheduling a meeting with Dr. Brian Kurisky by emailing bkurisky@vwu.edu or calling 757-455-3216.

While you may experience a bias incident, that one incident is often part of a larger pattern against a group, to which you may or may not belong.  Actions such those listed above in the Identifying Bias Incidents section are examples of actions and/or messages that relay that VWU is an unwelcoming campus for select individuals and/or populations, which is not what VWU stands for.  VWU wishes to make the campus welcoming to all past, current, and future Marlins, as well as the off-campus community.

Steps After Completing a Report

For any report where someone has provided their personal information, Dr. Brian Kurisky will reach out to you to see if you wish to meet.  If you wish to meet, Dr. Kurisky will provide you a space to talk about the incident and allow you to give as much or as little information regarding the incident with which you feel comfortable disclosing.  Discussion will also be done regarding what outcomes you would suggest that the President's Council for Inclusive Communities (PCIC) consider presenting to the President so that the campus could become more inclusive.  Finally, on and off-campus resources will be presented to you so that you can be made aware of the resources at your disposal to aid you regarding the incident.

After the PCIC meets and discusses options, the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) will reach back out to you to discuss recommendations that the PCIC developed.  At that meeting, the CDO will also check-in with you to see if you have utilized any resources or anything else that VWU can do to aid you regarding the incident.

Reports

Any report submitted, anonymous or with student identification, is reviewed by the CDO.  The CDO will summarize the report and present the basic information to the PCIC and to the President of the University.  No identifiable information of the person submitting the report is shared with either the PCIC or the President.

The PCIC will discuss the summarized report and will develop proposals to present to the President in the areas of diversity and inclusion for possible adoption on the campus.   The PCIC will not take action against any student, faculty, or staff members as it is not within their purview.

Please note that reporting the incident may lead to an investigation by Campus Life and/or Campus Security, and if either a witness or the investigation identifies the person responsible, the Institution can hold that person accountable for their acts. When appropriate, a judicial response communicates a clear message about the standards and behaviors that are acceptable at Virginia Wesleyan University.

Campus Support

VWU works to support students who have experienced a bias-related incident by providing resources to any student affected (directly or indirectly) by a bias incident that occurs either on-campus or off-campus.  In addition to the CDO, you are encouraged to talk with a faculty or staff member with whom you feel comfortable confiding in or reach out to the VWU Counseling Center at 757-455-5730.

Resources presented include on-campus resources as well as off-campus resources.  The process established is designed to aid the Marlin community in becoming a more welcoming to community.

The Bias Incident Report allows students, faculty, and staff to submit a bias incident on the campus to the President's Council for Inclusive Communities (PCIC) for review.  The PCIC will discuss the incident report and propose suggestions to the President to help the community become more inclusive.  The information will be utilized to help the President guide the VWU community in the areas of diversity.  The PCIC will not take action against any student, faculty, or staff members as it is not within their purview.

Sumbit a Bias Incident Report