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Sunday, May 19, 2024

UW-Madison hosts information session on reporting incidents of hate and bias

UW-Madison hosted an informational session Thursday at Gordon Dining and Event Center to explain both the classification of incidents of hate and bias and the process of reporting them.

The event was announced after students shared their experiences on #TheRealUW and the many official reports of hate and bias in the past month. UW-Madison junior Tim Martens said he knew little about the reporting processes prior to attending the event.

“I definitely had no idea about that there was this process in place for me to report something that happened or that I witnessed,” Martens said. “I thought it was really informative.”

The presenters helped distinguish between hate crimes and bias incidents. Assistant Dean of Students Gabriel C. Javier said hate crimes necessitate a crime actually being committed, while bias incidents do not. Javier said a person writing a racial slur with an erasable marker on a whiteboard would not be a hate crime, as it caused zero property damage. He said this scenario would classify as a bias incident, however.

Presenters also discussed University Housing’s process of investigation, the discipline process, reporting to the UW-Madison Police Department and the strict confidentiality of reporting incidents to the university’s Hate and Bias Team.

The event concluded with group discussions to lend feedback to the process of reporting and how often university administration should send campuswide addresses. Martens said it is important to keep educating students about these processes and procedures, as many may still be unaware.

“I think just getting the word out to the people like me who really don’t know a lot about what is happening out there,” Martens said. “There are all these events occurring and there are these processes where we can respond. I think the best way to make change is to have people become informed.”

The event was the first of four initiatives to occur from Chancellor Rebecca Blank's announcement in her March 15 open letter to the UW-Madison community. An update regarding Blank’s commitment to provide resources from the Chancellor’s Office for two mental health professionals related to diversity and climate will be announced Tuesday, according to Associate Dean of Students Argyle Wade.

The information provided in the session by presenters will become available online at the university’s new campus climate website next week. 

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