Bias Incident Response Team

Defining Diversity at UNC Asheville

In an effort to advance UNC Asheville’s mission of building an inclusive and sustainable environment, the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) strives to promote a safe, hate-free environment where all people can live, work, and learn. Through using the restorative justice model, we use preventative education to empower UNC Asheville students to strive for healing and growth as we work to report and respond to bias incidents and hate crimes.

At UNC Asheville, diversity means creating and supporting an inclusive and sustainable community, one in which people of all backgrounds interact respectfully and in which each member is valued. To reach this goal requires that we enhance the range of human diversity on campus, including but not limited to dimensions such as race and ethnicity, age, religion, disability, socio-economic status, gender expression, gender and sexual identity, national origin, culture and ideological beliefs.

About BIRT

Dean of Students Jackie McHargue is the Chair of the the BIRT. Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Education Melanie Fox and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Safety Chief Eric Boyce are permanent members.

Responsibilities

  • Educate the UNC Asheville community about the protocol for reporting bias incidents and crimes and the role of BIRT in determining whether reports are bias-related. Promote conversation about diversity issues, and meet with student groups to engage in or moderate discussions about diversity on our campus.
  • Provide skills to empower students to use grassroots methods such as bystander intervention to assist building an inclusive campus environment.
  • Support and assist target(s) of bias incidents and hate crimes, including those who are directly involved as well as identity groups that may be affected. Listen to their accounts of their experiences and discussing resources and both formal and informal options for moving forward, and only take actions authorized by the student.
  • Monitor the campus climate around issues of diversity and civility.
  • Recommend appropriate actions and educational programs that are both preventative and responsive to bias incidents and hate crimes. BIRT is not intended to replace or subordinate any existing structure or process for reporting and addressing acts of harassment, discrimination, or violence including but not limited to processes of the University Police Department, student code of community standards and citizenship education process.
  • Maintain annual statistical records of bias incidents on campus and compile a statistical summary of the reports received during the year.
  • Provide skills to empower students to use grassroots methods such as bystander intervention to assist building an inclusive campus environment.

What BIRT Doesn’t Do

We aren’t a judicial or disciplinary body and play no part in disciplinary proceedings. We aren’t an investigative team. We take reports about bias incidents and, if the student wants to, we discuss options for how the student might move forward. If the student opts to file a formal report and initiate campus disciplinary proceedings, then an investigation will be carried out through that process, which is overseen by Citizenship Education, not BIRT.

We aren’t a crisis response team. Anyone in a dangerous situation (e.g., a violent or potentially violent situation) needs to contact Public Safety immediately. If the situation involves a bias incident, we can take a report at a later time.

We don’t tell people what to think or how to talk. We do support the students whose ability to feel safe, at home, and welcome in our community is frustrated by the bias around them.

How to Report a Bias Compliant

A bias incident is an act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation – verbal, written or physical – which is personally directed against or targets a UNC Asheville student because of that student’s race, age, color, social class, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

The Bias Incident Report Form is for the use of current students, faculty, staff as well as UNC Asheville community members. Please provide detailed information regarding the bias incident to which you are referring.

Once the form is received, a member of the Bias Incident Response Team will review the information and take appropriate action, which may or may not include contacting the student, you, and any others you have identified. For questions, please call 828.250.2370 or email jmchargu@unca.edu.

Do not use this form in the case of an emergency. If there is an immediate threat to any person or property, contact University Police at 828.251.6710 for on campus emergencies, or 911 for off campus emergencies.