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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
ASM equity and inclusion
Jess Harlan

ASM, campus leaders to weigh hate, bias report updates

The Associated Students of Madison unanimously passed legislation concerning possible improvements to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s hate and bias reporting processes in early December. 

The ASM Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) will work with Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin and Dean of Students Christina Olstad to update the bias reporting procedures, according to the ASM document.

“[The updated process] is focused on giving students more information about the timeline and process when submitting hate and bias reports, increasing the number of staff currently assisting students who submit these reports and bringing UW-Madison up to the standard of other Universities of Wisconsin system schools,” Emmett Lockwood, chair of the EIC, said in an email. 

Jennifer Horace, the assistant director of bias reporting, said she was unable to speak on the ASM legislation and that the “Dean of Students Office supports students advocating for their needs, and we are committed to working with students to create a process that meets the needs of this campus” in an email.

The document was passed in collaboration with Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), an organization that is collaborating with ASM and provided their own “Dare to Divest” campaign. 

The current hate and bias reporting form from Olstad’s office asks for basic information, including the victim’s name and contact info. The form allows anonymous reports.

Representatives from LIT who spoke during the ASM meeting included Spencer Runde, the coalition chair. 

“Together we can create a university where inclusivity isn't a utopian dream but is a material lived reality for every individual that steps foot on this campus,” Runde said.

Difficulties with the current process have persisted amid recent safety issues and racist incidents on campus, ASM leaders said. The document mentioned a recent neo-Nazi rally on campus and harassment toward members of an Asian sorority on campus.

According to Lockwood, many victims of racist incidents on campus reported “feeling that engaging in the current bias reporting process was akin to pouring the account of some of their worst experiences on this campus into a black hole.”  

The ASM document outlines six core elements to help support students who report and are victims of hate and bias incidents. One of the elements mandates that the response to the form arrives within 48 hours and includes resources to support victims and a point of contact from the university.

The legislation also outlined “intersectional and diverse” additions to the hate and bias response team, including three new full-time staff members and two students on the team with equal power.

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Although current staff help to support victims or bystanders of hate and bias incidents, Lockwood said some resources can feel inaccessible. He suggested increased staffing and responsiveness to remedy this problem.

Another suggested change advises incident reports be available for 10 years on the university’s website to give students “a peek behind the curtain of university bureaucracy,” Lockwood said.

ASM’s suggestions were based on the hate and bias reporting response and strategy developed by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, per the legislation. Lockwood said UW-Eau Claire has a current hate and bias response team that should set a precedent for the other UW system schools.

“This legislation is a call for the school to do what it can, given federal legislation such as FERPA, and to be more transparent with students about the processes behind the scenes,” Lockwood said.  

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