Bias Response Advisory Committee

Duke University is committed to being a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all students, faculty and staff. We value the broad spectrum of human experience, and we work continuously to create an open atmosphere with meaningful opportunities to learn.

As part of this commitment, Duke Student Affairs has established a Bias Response Advisory Committee to advise the VP of Student Affairs on allegations of bias-related incidents that may impact the Duke community. Our mission is:

  1. To support the personal identities of each community member and the exploration of each unique identity.  
  2. To create avenues for recourse when exploration is impeded.
  3. To serve as a place for students who may have experienced bias incidents to voice their experience.
  4. To collect documentation on incidents as needed.
  5. To provide recommendations for institutional policies and procedures as appropriate.
  6. To ensure that appropriate University officials and other individuals, groups, or organizations are notified and consulted when a bias incident occurs, as appropriate.
  7. To facilitate meaningful dialogue and make recommendations for educational intervention when appropriate.

What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an act or behavior motivated by the offender’s bias against the facets of another's identity. Bias occurs whether the act is intentional or unintentional. Bias may be directed toward an individual or group. Bias may contribute to creating an unsafe/unwelcoming environment.

Bias incidents may take the form of, but are not limited to:

  • Graffiti or signs
  • Threatening voicemail, mail, email or message
  • Telephone harassment
  • Confrontation, physical or verbal
  • Verbal harassment, slurs or threats
  • Written slurs or threats
  • Threatening or harassing gestures
  • Physical injury
  • Damage to property
  • Advantages or disadvantages based upon identity
  • National Origin and protected categories under Affirmative Action

Can individuals who engage in hateful speech be arrested or disciplined by the University?
It depends. The University takes seriously its responsibility to appropriately balance its core values of protecting individual freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech, artistic expression, freedom of association, academic freedom) and ensuring equal and fair treatment of all. These values may sometimes be in conflict. There are many considerations when determining whether hateful speech violates the University’s non-discrimination and unlawful harassment policies. In so doing, the University is always mindful that academia is a unique place where the exchange of ideas, robust debate and artistic expression are critical to the University’s teaching and research missions.  For additional information, it may be useful to visit the Office of Student Conduct.

What happens when a bias incident occurs?
The Duke Community Standard (DCS) stresses the commitment that students share with all members of the community to enhance the climate for honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability at Duke University. Students affirm their commitment to foster this climate by signing a pledge that includes taking constructive action if they witness or know about behavior they perceive to be inconsistent with the DCS, which may include violation of university policies. The community is impacted when a bias incident occurs. In response, the Bias Response Advisory Committee may implement one or more of the following option(s):

  • Provide educational programming
  • Promote campus dialogue
  • Refer to Office of Student Conduct
  • Refer to CAPS
  • Provide mediation
  • Recommend institutional practice or policy
  • Implement intervention strategy

How to Report a Bias Incident:

Thank you for your willingness to report a bias incident within the community. Duke University is committed to being a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all students, faculty and staff. Fostering this climate includes taking constructive action if one witnesses or knows about behavior perceived to be inconsistent with the Duke Community Standard, which may include violation of university policies.  

You may elect to submit an incident report by Incident Report Form. Upon receiving the report the Office of Student Conduct staff will coordinate the investigation of the report.

Bias Response Advisory Committee Members:

  • Nick Antonicci, Assistant Director, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
  • LB Bergene (Co-Chair), Associate Dean, HDRL
  • John Blackshear, Staff Psychologist and University Ombudsman
  • AY Bryant, Associate Director, Multicultural Services Liaison, CAPS
  • Valerie Glassman, Assistant Dean, Office of Student Conduct
  • Chandra Guinn (Co-Chair), Director, Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture
  • Deona Hatley, Residence Coordinator, HDRL
  • Chris Heltne, Director of Communications
  • Natavan Khan, Staff Assistant, Center for Muslim Life
  • Seun Bello Olamosu, Associate Director, Intercultural Initiatives
  • Christine Pesetski, Assistant Dean, Dean of Students Office- DukeReach
  • Anita Stockmans, Assistant Director, Career Services

Additional Resources: