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Bias Education and Response Team

Purpose

The Bias Education and Response Team (BERT) includes members of the university community who are available to support and guide students seeking assistance in determining how to handle a bias incident. The team members will review incident reports and meet with affected students to facilitate services such as counseling, health services, or other referrals as needed to address safety concerns and to provide assistance and comfort to those impacted.

Members of the Bias Education and Response Team will also develop an appropriate plan to initiate communication with the broader community and make referrals to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, Office of Equity and Diversity, or the University of Tennessee Police Department if the incident appears to violate a university policy or state/federal law.

The BERT will share the types and number of incidents with appropriate university officials to provide data that may inform programming or services to address the campus climate.

Any student found to be responsible for an act of bias, which violates university Standards of Conduct or criminal law, will be subject to disciplinary sanctions up to and including permanent dismissal from the university. Similarly, any faculty or staff member found to be responsible for an act of bias, which violates university policy, will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from the university.

Members

The Office of Dean of Students addresses bias incidents through the University’s Bias Education and Response Team (BERT). The BERT consists of members from the following areas:

  • The Office of the Dean of Students
  • The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Communication
  • The Office of Human Resources
  • The University of Tennessee Police Department
  • University Housing
  • Undergraduate student (appointed by SGA)
  • Graduate student (appointed by SGA/GSS)

Procedures

Procedures for addressing complaints involving bias incidents include timely communication and referral of incidents. Bias Education and Response Team’s responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Collect verifiable information and engage UTPD and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (if applicable) in the investigation of the incident;
  2. Coordinate a plan of action to address bias incident with consideration and/or administration of interim action (e.g., University Housing relocation, no contact directive, and/or interim suspension);
  3. Meet with affected students, faculty, staff, or visitors to facilitate support services (e.g., Counseling Center), ensure safety, and provide assistance as deemed appropriate;
  4. Develop an appropriate plan to initiate bias incident communication with the campus community;
  5. Generate referrals to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, Office of the Dean of Students, or the Office of Equity and Diversity;
  6. Document and conduct follow-up to bias incidents.

Additionally, BERT may partner with various departments to more effectively address bias incidents. These departments include the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, UTPD, the Counseling Center, Health and Education and Wellness, University Housing, the Office of Equity and Diversity, and other applicable departmental unit.

Questions regarding bias incidents or protocol should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students, 865-974-3179, dos@utk.edu.

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