Bias Education and Response Team

Occidental College is committed to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for members of the Oxy community.

Starting Fall 2022, the College will be launching a new Bias Education and Response Team (BERT). Housed in the Division of Student Affairs and the Intercultural Community Center (ICC), BERT aims to provide students who have witnessed and/or experienced a bias incident an opportunity to be heard and supported. BERT is an educational, non-punitive approach to addressing these issues. BERT is not designed to “punish” or take the place of any of the offices or policies at the College that can offer punitive consequences. BERT is designed to track bias incidents and respond to interpersonal interactions, relational dynamics, and/or on-campus incidents that are more difficult to define than harassment or discrimination, but still may have a significant impact based on identity characteristics including, but not limited to, age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, socioeconomic class, educational level, religion/spirituality, national origin, ableness/disability, ethnicity, culture, size, English literacy, immigration status, and skin color, among others.  A few illustrative examples of bias incidents may include targeted graffiti, or transphobic jokes or racial epithets that may not be directed towards a specific individual. Bias incidents may or may not be intended to cause harm.

BERT will provide educational opportunities for faculty, staff and students regarding identity, intersectionality, microaggressions (including microinsults, microassaults and microinvalidations), while at the same time ensuring that incidents stemming from a bias are addressed with intentionality and care.  After receiving a report, BERT seeks to respond in a timely manner and repair the resulting harm to the fullest extent possible through appropriate resources, restorative practices, and community care. Data collected from bias reports will be used to develop and inform educational programs and services designed to interrupt problematic behaviors that can undermine a student’s sense of belonging at the College. 

Isaiah Thomas, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Education and Housing Services will be chairing the BERT during the fall semester. Upon the arrival of the new Director of the Intercultural Community Center, the BERT process will be co-led by Isaiah and the new Director. Dean Thomas will lead a BERT team composed of staff and faculty from representative departments at the College. The members, as well as information on how to report a bias incident will be shared with the community in the Fall.

Intersection with the College's Civil Rights Policies

While BERT is an educational, non-punitive approach to addressing bias, it may receive reports that potentially implicate the college's civil rights policies. When this occurs, the reports will be transferred to the Civil Rights & Title IX Office. The Civil Rights & Title IX Office receives and responds to reports alleging violations of Occidental College’s civil rights policies, including the Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Policy and the Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy. For more information on these policies, including how to report potential violations, please visit the  or contact Alexandra Fulcher, Oxy’s Civil Rights & Title IX Coordinator.