Updated March 10, 2021 at 10:08 p.m. to include video.
The working group responsible for designing the Elon University Bias Response System has started to conduct listening sessions with students, faculty, and staff. The sessions will allow members of the university community and those who receive bias reports to provide feedback before a preliminary report is delivered to Vice Presidents Jon Dooley and Randy Williams on April 15.
The overhaul of the bias system began last July, when President Connie Book commissioned Williams and Dooley to lead the task. In Book’s statement to the campus community, she called for the new bias system to include a public dashboard that would provide data on racism on campus and the college’s actions after the incidents.
The task force tasked with rethinking the bias response system includes Co-Chairs, Associate Dean for Academic Success and Professor at the Elon Greensboro School of Law, Wendy Scott, and Director of Student Conduct, Jenni Spangenberg, as well as eight other faculty and staff. The group meets twice a month.
Spangenberg said the overhaul of the bias reporting system came from a growing response from community members. The university community came together to create the new system with the needs of the campus in mind, rather than an individually changing department or office.
âThat’s a lot of what our committee is trying to do,â Spangenberg said. âSee where those building opportunities are and make sure we have a good system in place to support everyone. ”
Scott was first co-chair of the group with Leigh-Anne Royster, who was previously director of the Center for Equity and Inclusive Excellence. Royster left Elon in the fall to become Duke University’s Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
When Williams asked Scott to co-chair the task force, she was not very familiar with the biased response system. Her immediate reaction when she viewed the website was the need to simplify.
âWe’ve seen examples in other institutions where you go to the web page and there’s a graphic that illustrates the process, or there’s a timeline,â Scott said. âThere is something very clear. How should I proceed, what would constitute a bias and how to report itâ¦ it’s a good starting point, to make the process more user-friendly.
Spangenberg, who started as a member of the task force, was also asked to become co-chair after Royster left.
In the group’s preliminary research, members examined nearly 30 biased response systems at institutions across the country, including Elon’s peer and aspiring institutions. Spangenberg said the working group would explore two topics further: training community members on the process for reporting risks of bias and the options available to those reporting incidents of bias.
In December, the task force held a listening session with alumni to learn about the concerns and issues they had addressed during their time with Elon. Scott said what marked her during the session were former students’ experiences with bias off campus and with the surrounding community, as well as some former students not knowing where to start the reporting process. .
âA lot of alumni shared their experiences, but struggled to understand where to go, to whom to report, what role the faculty could play in helping students who have had these experiences,â said Scott. âTheir contribution was also helpful, hearing from the entire Elon community. “
The task force received a list of students from Dooley and Williams to work in a consultant role. In the first round of listening sessions this week, students will share their experience with the bias reporting system, Spangenberg said. Students will also offer feedback on the research conducted and the preliminary report that will be submitted to Williams and Dooley in April.
âI hope we can hear what their experiences are,â Spangenberg said. “I think this will allow for better education on the needs and to see what our community is looking at, and just a better understanding of what would be beneficial when we are looking at a biased response.”
The biased response system can be used not only by undergraduates, but also by graduate students and law students. Scott said the appointment of LakÃ© Buggs, Director of Inclusive Excellence for Higher and Vocational Education, has helped graduate students, faculty and staff away from Elon University’s main campus to better understand how the bias system can work for them as well.
Students can also report incidents of bias outside the university – such as bias during internships or residencies – through the university system. Scott said that while these cases have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the past, their submission through the biased response system allows data to be collected.
âThe important thing about this is that while we may have resolved these incidents internally before, the reporting system is collecting the data,â Scott said. âBecause once you have that data you can take the next step, which is good, what can we do to minimize these incidents? ”
Following the listening sessions, the working group will submit a preliminary report to Williams and Dooley by April 15th. Once the report is submitted, Scott said there may be legal counsel’s review of the suggestions and then a review and redesign process will take place. . In June, the final bias system report will be submitted to Dooley and Williams.
âIt’s good work, it’s important work, and I think the collegiality of the group is very strong,â said Scott. âI look forward to our work leading to significant change and ultimately a better environment on campus. ”