Reporting and Responding to Bias: A Handbook

Relevant excerpt

Bias incidents are defined at Amherst as actions taken that one could reasonably conclude stem from bias against the perceived or actual identity of a person or group, that cause harm to the person or to the larger community.

In response to incidents of bias, the College will use a variety of tools, including restorative practices and education, to support those who experience harm. Restorative work requires the engagement of all those involved in and affected by the harm.

Restorative work and opportunities to learn are more effective than more punitive measures in helping to mitigate bias and exposing the ways in which implicit and explicit bias contribute to the perpetuation of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and other forms of identity-based prejudice and harm.

Every student, faculty, and staff member deserves an environment that is free of bias, one in which individuals can share their perspectives knowing that identity-based attacks are out of bounds and that the College will support those who experience harm and address the incidents.

Amherst College maintains a strong commitment to robust, open inquiry in all facets of campus life. The curriculum, course content, and pedagogical methods are the province of the faculty and are not covered by this protocol. A meaningful education requires the willingness to engage with ideas with which we may disagree or find troubling. However, though typically inadvertent, all of us can express or show bias that does harm to others in our interactions within and outside of classrooms. Because encountering and negotiating bias can often foreclose meaningful conversation, knowing that there are strategies for handling perceived incidents of bias can better enable us to engage in discussion and debate. Amherst College’s commitment to academic and expressive freedom is consonant with and undergirds our embrace of education and support as the best means of mitigating bias in our community.

If the Identity-Based Harm Review Team determines that an incident report describes actions potentially indicating identity-based bias that is not discrimination, harassment, or a violation of the honor code, yet still harmful to the reporting individual or the community, the BERT will be notified and begin the information gathering process.

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