Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)

A Bias Incident is conduct, speech, or expression that is motivated by bias, but does not rise to the level of a crime. Bias incidents encompass a broad spectrum of activity, from silently avoiding contact with someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics, to hosting a private party where participants dress up in blackface.

Bias incidents arise from the expression of both explicit biases and implicit biases that an individual or group may hold. Explicit Bias is conscious and intentional bias expressed through language or gesture and intended to insult and demean another person. Implicit Bias exists “outside the level of awareness because [it is] deeply embedded in the psyche and made invisible” (Sue, 2010). While implicit bias may not be grounded in intention, the impact of the bias still exists for the individuals or groups who experience its effect. Both forms of bias also can take the form of on-going microaggressions.

Microaggressions are “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely on their marginalized group status” (Sue, et al., 2007).

Ultimately, regardless of origin, bias incidents have the potential to disrupt teaching and learning, a sense of belonging and community, student success, and the overall campus climate at PLU.

Citation Information
Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. New York, NY: Wiley.

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., et al. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271–286.

April 28, 2015

“Our prejudices, stereotypes, and biases exist on a continuum of conscious awareness” (Sue 2010).

The purpose of the Bias Incident Response Team [BIRT] is to strengthen and sustain an environment of respect, justice, and care for all members of the PLU community by addressing verbal, symbolic, and behavioral acts of bias through documentation, education, and reconciliation. The BIRT, in consultation with the reporting party, will develop an appropriate response to individual and systematic bias incidents. There are other situations where BIRT may make a referral to or work in conjunction with other reporting bodies at PLU, including Student Rights and Responsibilities, Campus Safety, or the University Dispute and Resolution Committee. Referrals are also made in consultation with the reporting party.

A Bias Incident is conduct, speech, or expression that is motivated by bias, but does not rise to the level of a crime. Bias incidents encompass a broad spectrum of activity, from silently avoiding contact with someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics, to hosting a private party where participants dress up in blackface.

Bias incidents arise from the expression of both explicit biases and implicit biases that an individual or group may hold. Explicit Bias is conscious and intentional bias expressed through language or gesture and intended to insult and demean another person. Implicit Bias exists “outside the level of awareness because [it is] deeply embedded in the psyche and made invisible” (Sue, 2010). While implicit bias may not be grounded in intention, the impact of the bias still exists for the individuals or groups who experience its effect. Both forms of bias also can take the form of on-going microagressions. Microagressions are “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely on their marginalized group status” (Sue, et al, 2007).

Ultimately, regardless of origin, bias incidents have the potential to disrupt teaching and learning, a sense of belonging and community, student success, and the overall campus climate at PLU.

To that end, the goals of the Bias Incident Response Team at Pacific Lutheran University are to:

  • Document incidents of bias reported by students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community on the PLU campus
  • Respond swiftly to reports of bias incidents while respecting confidentiality and supporting communication
  • Offer a safe space for witnesses or targets of bias to voice their experience, honor the level of response they request while also acknowledging where mandatory reporting of incidents may be a factor, and connect them with resources for countering its impact
  • Educate instigators of acts of bias– when authorized to do so by those reporting, or when instigators self-report– to create a greater awareness of and accountability for acts of implicit and explicit bias and learning that leads to individual and community change
  • Provide or support the PLU community with bystander intervention education so that individuals know how respond effectively when they witness explicit bias incidents or infer that an incident is driven by implicit bias
  • Educate the PLU community on microagressions, explicit bias, implicit bias, and how to avoid committing acts of bias intentionally or unintentionally
  • Activate various constituencies on the PLU campus to respond, intentionally and appropriately, to local, national, and international events that may impact the psychological well being and safety of members of the PLU community