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

Beginning in Fall 2022, the College launched the Bias Education and Support Team (BEST) to support the College’s commitment to a culture of greater inclusivity and belonging. At Oxy, a bias incident is defined as a behavior, whether intentional or unintentional, that constitutes hostility against a person or group because of their real or perceived identity. Oxy recognizes that such incidents can have tremendous impact on our community and can cause significant harm, even where they involve protected free speech or otherwise do not qualify as violations of College policy. BEST seeks to address this harm by providing support to impacted students, educational opportunities for community members, and transparent information about the nature and frequency of bias events reported on campus.

Housed in the Division of Student Affairs, BEST aims to provide students who have witnessed and/or experienced a bias incident an opportunity to be heard and supported. BEST is an educational, non-punitive approach to addressing these issues. BEST does not have authority to impose discipline on any student and cannot compel students to speak with BEST or participate in any supportive or educational measures. Additionally, BEST does not play any role in any issues or concerns that occur in the classroom environment. BEST is designed to inform the community about 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.

    For Fall 2024, the BEST Incident Report Form will be accessible to students via MyOxy, and information on how to access the form will be provided to all students at that time.  Please note the following:

    1. BEST is not part of the College’s disciplinary systems and participation is not mandatory by any member of the campus community. Violations of College policy are handled separately as described below.
    2. If you are a non-student and have a concern or issue, please consider contacting the following offices for support: Dean of Students Office or the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX. For emergencies, please contact Campus Safety at (323) 259-2599.
    3. If you have any questions or concerns regarding experiences within the classroom, we encourage students to reach out to their faculty member or instructor. Students are also able to contact the Department Chair or Sal Fernandez, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs.

    If you have witnessed or experienced a potential violation of the College’s Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Policy and/or the Discrimination, Harassment, & Retaliation Policy, please report it to the Civil Rights & Title IX Office. For more information on these policies, including how to report potential violations, please visit the Civil Rights & Title IX website or contact Alexandra Fulcher, Oxy’s Civil Rights & Title IX Coordinator.

    To report a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, please contact the Office of Student Conduct.

    BEST members seek to address the impact of bias incidents through appropriate resources, restorative practices, and community care. Typically, this process begins with an invitation from a member of BEST to the reporting student to discuss their report, and to determine viable education or non-punitive outcomes that promote healing and an overall positive community environment. Examples of outcomes BEST has worked with students on include: 

    • Coordinating restorative conversations between students who may have experienced harm or disagreement; 
    • Working with campus partners to address vandalism or violations in or around campus buildings or spaces; and 
    • Working with student clubs and organizations to offer suggestions to improve their own guidelines and bylaws to be more inclusive of all students.

    Spring 2024: For Spring 2024, a total of 20 reports were received. 19 of these reports were either anonymous or written by non-Oxy community members. The reports were in reference to various aspects pertaining to the Israel/Hamas crisis, and the actions and expressed opinions of Oxy community members. Consistent with similar reports written in Fall 2023, the reports were shared with the Taskforce on Promoting Safety and Community, and throughout Spring 2024, several workshops focused on Antisemitism, bias prevention, and Islamophobia were offered to all Oxy students and community members.  As the reports were anonymous and/or not written by Oxy students, BEST was unable to provide direct follow up to any impacted students.  One other report was submitted that focused on a student to student concern involving perceived bias.  All students were consulted with by members of BEST, and restorative mediations were offered to impacted students in order to provide potential healing and learning.

    Fall 2023: For Fall 2023, BEST received 2 reports. Both of these reports were anonymous and were in reference to students feeling unsafe and uncomfortable due to a protest/sit-in and offensive language based in religious identity, that was reported to have been said by members participating in the protest. BEST reviewed this information and shared it with other members of leadership at the College. As the reports were anonymous, BEST was unable to reach back out to the impacted students.  As a result of these reports and other reports submitted to other offices, the College developed the Promoting Safety and Community Taskforce, that is charged with coordinating various action steps to promote healing and accountability.  Within the taskforce, educational programming and restorative opportunities will be provided in an effort for faculty, staff, and students, to learn more about the incident.

    • Isaiah Thomas (co-chair), Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Education, Housing Services, and Student Conduct
    • Vanessa Gonzalez-Wright (co-chair), Director of the Intercultural Community Center
    • Caro Brighouse, Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs
    • Alejandro Aguirre, Director of Counseling Services, Emmons Wellness Center
    • Joaquin Caro, Prevention Education Coordinator, Project SAFE
    • Cori Vallembois, Assistant Athletic Director for Operations
    • Tahn Bae Park, Assistant Dean for Student Support and Director of Restorative Practices
    Contact Student Affairs