The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) ensures students affected by Bias or a Bias related incident have access to appropriate resources and assists the University in its response in situations that may impact the overall campus climate around diversity and inclusion.
What is the Bias Incident Response Team?
Bias Incident Response Team or BIRT is responsible for acting as Bentley’s “first response” team when dealing with student reported bias incidents. Additionally, in working closely with appropriate administrators, students, faculty, committees, organizations and offices BIRT plays an educational role in both fostering an inclusive campus climate and supporting targeted individuals when bias and/or hate incidents occur. The team has broad membership in order to support and affirm Bentley’s educational mission and to support our vision to create an institution in which people do not experience barriers because of aspects of their identity.
Scope of the BIRT
The BIRT has no authority to discipline any student or member of the faculty or staff. Bias incidents that violate Bentley University policy or Massachusetts State Law will be referred to and addressed through the University’s student conduct process and/or the criminal courts. Bias incidents that violate the standards outlined in Bentley’s Employment Policies and Practices will be referred to Human Resources. Bias incidents that violate neither the law nor University policy will be addressed by an educational response that may include conflict resolution, coordinated by BIRT.
Statement on Speech and Academic Freedom
The Bentley University Bias Incident Response Protocol shall be interpreted and implemented in a manner consistent with Bentley’s commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression.
Hate speech and actions are not tolerated by the university and are contrary to the university’s polices of harassment based on bigotry or bias. The expression of an idea or point of view some may find offensive or charged is not necessarily a bias-related incident. Bentley values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. The expression of controversial ideas and differing views is a vital part of campus discourse. While this value of openness protects controversial ideas, it does not protect harassment or expressions of bias or hate aimed at individuals or groups that violate University policies.
What is a Bias Incident?
A Bias Incident is characterized as a behavior or act—verbal, written or physical—which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age. Behavior reflecting bias may constitute a violation of Bentley University policy. Examples of what may constitute a bias incident include, but are not limited to
- Threatening phone calls, mail/email, social media
- Jokes based on stereotypes
- Excluding or barring participation from university-sponsored clubs or events, based on one's perceived identity
- Using a racial, ethnic, homophobic, gender-based or other slur to identify someone
- Graffiti or other vandalism
- Harassement based on identity
- Physical assault
Massachusetts State Law: Hate Crimes
Acts constituting hate crimes, as defined by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 22C, Section 32, include “any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seek to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”
Chapter 265 Crimes Against the Person – Section 39 states in relevant part that it is illegal to commit a crime against one’s person or property with the intent to intimidate such person because of such person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
Bentley Non-Discrimination Policy
Bentley University does not discriminate in admission or access to or treatment or employment in any of its educational programs or activities, including scholarships, loans and athletics, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital status, age, national origin, citizenship status, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status. Bentley University maintains and supports affirmative action plans for its workplace in compliance with federal law. Equal opportunity extends to all aspects of the employment relationship, including hiring, promotions, training, working conditions, compensation and benefits. Bentley University’s policies and practices reflect the university’s commitment to nondiscrimination in all areas of employment. The university complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Revenue Procedure 75-50 prohibiting such discrimination. Anyone believing that he or she has experienced adverse treatment may register a complaint with Earl Avery, special assistant to the president, at 781.891.2907.
Team Membership/Contact Us
The BIRT is composed of representatives from various departments at Bentley University. The team reviews and responds to reported bias-related incidents in an educational and non – confrontational manner.
The team is comprised of two levels: a core team and adhoc team. the team is comprised of individuals across campus whose job responsibilities are connected to one or all of the following: incident/behavioral response and protected groups in reference to the Bentley University non-discrimination statement (listed above), making them a logical point of contact for informal reporting.
The Core team consists of six staff members who will evaluate incoming reports from students, faculty, and/or staff and provide guidance on next steps. Guidance will be based on the type of incident and will include additional conversations with a member(s) of the adhoc team based on the nature of the incident presented.
- Michael McCorvey, Co-Chair - Mulitcultural Center
- Tony Martin, Co-Chair - Residential Center
- Diane McNamara, Human Resources
- Katie Lampley - Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Kiana Pierre-Louis, Faculty - Law, Taxation and Financial Planning
- Erica Arkin, Faculty - English and Media Studies
The Adhoc team consists of members from across the university whose functional areas include protected groups on campus. These team members will be included in ongoing and consistent conversations on the overall campus climate. Members will also be present for specific follow up based on the nature of the incident present.
- Erin Kelley - Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
- Jamie Bang - Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
- Ron Ardizzone - PRIDE Advisor, Student Systems
- Helen Henrichs - News and Communications
- Jess Roche - University Police
- Christine Lookner - The Center for International Students and Scholars
- Robin Olson - Spiritual Life
- Stephanie Brodeur - Disability Services
Team Functions and Authority
The BIRT has three primary responsibilities:
- Evaluate and respond to immediate needs of the reporting party
- Act as a referral resource, directing reporters to appropriate campus units for further action
- Assist in and consult on the development of community level response to the incident (Residence Hall emails, University emails, Educational sanctioning)
Report an Incident
Fill out a Bias Incident Report by clicking on this link:
Please note that this link should not be used for emergency situations.
If you are experiencing an emergency situation, please call University Police at 781.891.3131.
If you are are looking to submit an anonymous report, you may do so using the University Police Anonymous Tip Line using the link below:
For more information please check out the BIRT Handout here: BiasedIncidentResponseTeam.pdf
Reporting Party and Responding Party Follow Up
Reporting may come from a variety of sources on campus including students, faculty, staff or guests. The process is explained below:
- Incident occurs
- Incident is reported and BIRT is notified
- BIRT reviews and discusses incident
- Immediate steps are identified and long term plan is applied
- Incident and response are recorded
Students, faculty and staff should use this process to report bias related incidents that involve a Bentley University student or property. Incidents involving faculty and staff will be referred to University Human Resources. Any faculty or staff reporting another faculty and staff should follow protocol outlined in the Resolution of Workplace Complaints including Workplace Harassment and Discrimination policy.
When there is the need for immediate attention due the risk of health and safety, individuals should contact University Police at 781.891.3131.
Incidents that are not in need of immediate attention or are believed to risk the health or safety of the inviduals have four options:
- Use the online Bias Response Form: The online system will ask for identification, a description of the incident and other relevent information.
- Report the incident to a Resident Assistant or Professional Staff member in the Residential Center. Reports made after hours will be handled by Residential Center staff as an immediate response (following Residential Center Bias Incident Protocol, the incident will then be referred on to the Bias Incident Reponse Team for further review).
- If there is any evidence or concern that that the incident was a violation of the university’s Title IX policies, students may report the incident directly to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
- Any evidence or concern that the incident was a violation of Federal or State law, the incident will be forwarded on to University Police.
- The University CARE reporting form. The Care team will forward any relevent incidents on to BIRT.
After a Report is Submitted
The Co-Chairs of the BIRT will review any reports received and determine next steps. Determination of the following will be made, 1) is there evidence of a bias incident 2) is the incident a violation of the university Title IX policy or Federal/State law.
- If a violation of the Title IX policy has occurred, the incident will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator.
- If a violation of Federal/State law has occured, the incident will be referred to University Police.
- If a bias incident is evident the report will be referred to the Bias Incident Response Team for further evaluation, members of the adhoc team may be included to provide feedback and ideas.
- If there is evidence of violation of university policy, the incident will be referred to Student Conduct.
- If there is evidence of criminal activity the report will be referred to University Police.
- If there is no immediate evidence of bias in the report, a member of the Bias Incident Response Team will meet with the reporting party to follow up.
Reporting Party Next Steps
A member(s) of the Bias Incident Response Team will reach out to the reporting party to set up a meeting regarding the incident. During this meeting the following points will be covered:
- Reviewing the information in the report
- Addressing the immediate issues
- Discussing next steps and possible options. Next steps are based on what is known (is the responding party known? How the reporting party would like to respond? What are the needs of the community?). The University does not limit the time frame to report any incident.
- Student Conduct Process
- Educational opportunities
- Whether moving forward or not, the incident will be recorded in Bentley’s Hate Crime or bias incident data
- Human Resources – Faculty/Staff Grievance Policy if the incident involves a faculty/staff and student.
- No action, just a report
- If the incident rises to the level of significant community impact, the University may move forward with an investigation with or without the consent of the reporting party.