November 5, 2020

University examines, expands bias reporting resources

Students talking at Union Plaza

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is realigning resources to better respond to bias incidents among the campus community and offer supports for those impacted by acts of intolerance in the community or across the nation.

“We are working together as a community to make certain that, when a bias incident occurs, we have well-defined and easily understood processes in place,” said Nkenge Friday, assistant vice chancellor for strategic initiatives with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “We are also centralizing resources so everyone is aware of where to go for support services.”

Most recently, the university has added a campus climate/culture option within its TIPS incident reporting system to capture broader issues. The new climate/culture option is intended for incidents that may not violate the university’s Student Code of Conduct or Title IX compliance regulations, but run counter to the university’s core values and beliefs.

Incidents that discriminate, stereotype, exclude or harass an individual based on identity may be grouped within the climate/culture incident reporting option.

“The climate/culture option is to support students, faculty or staff and connect them to important campus resources,” Friday said. “The hope is, over time, these efforts contribute to the maintenance of respect and understanding among members of the university community.”

Ultimately, the new TIPS reporting option is intended to provide robust and transparent access to resources and education to the campus community. It also allows another option for reporting climate-related campus incidents that may not clearly fall within an existing category.

The TIPS system continues to offer options to report a broad array of incidents anonymously and confidentially. These include bias, inappropriate behavior, discrimination, personal safety, workplace issues and acts of kindness

Available online with links available in the footer of all university webpages, TIPS allows the university community to report matters which do not pose an immediate emergency but may need to be elevated or addressed.

Confidentiality of TIPS reports is maintained through the incident review process. The reports are forwarded to a team of university administrators for consideration and possible investigation if an incident falls within the parameters of the Student Code of Conduct or Title IX.

“We are actively committed to pursuing ways to uphold equity and safety on our campus and within our university community,” said Kelli King, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and leader of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. “We want everyone to know that the university takes these matters seriously and that it is extremely important to address incidents that do not align with the values of the institution.”

Reports outside the need for a formal investigation may be forwarded to a respective campus unit for consideration. For example, a climate/culture or bias-related report would be reviewed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, working and consulting with any other related office.

Friday said work is continuing to formalize the TIPS report review process and additional campus engagement is warranted. Units working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion include Institutional Equity and Compliance, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, and Student Affairs.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make the entire process more inclusive while also increasing transparency,” Friday said. “Education will also be a focus of any outcome. We want this to be supportive and accessible to our community.

“While an ongoing effort, we view this as a collaborative undertaking. We are always interested in connecting with units, governing organizations, and other groups with a vested interested towards ways we can effectively address climate issues.”

Students, faculty and staff who has been a victim of bias or feels unsafe/uncomfortable due to an incident have access to a number of university resources. Those supports are available through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Counseling and Psychological Services; Employee Assistance Program; LGBTQA+ Center; Center for Advocacy, Response and Education; and Women’s Center.