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U.N.H. Looks to Become “University of No Hate”

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U.N.H. Looks to Become “University of No Hate”

Glenn Rohrbacker

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A student gets up to present their project in class, where most dread even asking a question. The topic: gender identity, a relatively controversial issue to many people who are unfamiliar with the concept.
The student places trust in his classmates to respect his integrity and his research on his topic, and to be able to present his findings to them, without a feeling of judgement.
However, those classmates don’t see the complexity of the situation, and begin to snicker and pass side judgement while the presenter is explaining his subject.
At the University of New Haven, this is considered a “bias incident,” which is defined as, “Any behavior which involves an expression of hostility against the person or property of others because of traits related to their race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, age, or physical or mental ability, including learning and/or developmental disabilities and past/present history of mental disorder or other category protected by state or federal law.”
The Division of Student Affairs at U.N.H. are pushing their Bias Incident Report form to formally document these types of incidents on campus and prevent them from happening in the future.
There have been only five bias reports submitted this semester, which is an uptick compared to the one that was submitted in the spring.
Reports are handled by the Division of Student Affairs, specifically by Dean of Students Rebecca Johnson and Associate Dean of Students Ric Baker. If they warrant it, reports are followed through with the student conduct system, in which disciplinary action can be taken.
“Just as sexual assaults go very underreported, bias incidents are too,” says Baker.
Baker also adds that incidents do not have to be formally reported to be taken seriously, but this is the best way for action to be taken in specific bias incidents.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion was a product of the improvements the U.N.H. administration was looking to make in terms of campus climate. The Director of the new office, Hernandez, is encouraging students to report if an issue arises, because it is the easiest way for something to be done about it.
“It is completely anonymous and we probably won’t hear of these incidents if the student doesn’t report them. Once reported, there is a lot more we can do for the student,” Hernandez said.
All over the country, there have been bias incidents since the election of Donald Trump on November 8, even on college campuses. However, there have not been any formal reports filed since the election.
“I’ve heard anecdotally through students who have not formally reported of exchanges that weren’t civil between people, but I haven’t had any reports,” Baker said.
The reports that have come in are from a wide array of backgrounds and deal with a wide array of issues. The most common instances are inappropriate classroom comments that come from students and faculty. In the case of faculty, issues are brought up with the department chair, and don’t go through the student conduct system.
Baker realizes the trend that bias issues usually follow what is going on in the country at that time.
“I think we are a microcosm of our nation and our nation is going through a lot of turmoil regarding all of these different kinds of issues with different identity groups,” he said.
President Kaplan expressed his support for the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals Act signed by President Obama, which is under threat by the incoming administration.
“One of the biggest concerns the administration is focused on relates to students who might be undocumented, or the DACA students. We have no idea what’s going to happen there,” Hernandez said.
Even though reports are low, Baker is optimistic in finding out what students think will improve campus climate, as the Division of Student Affairs and Dean Johnson have been trying to actively include students in discussions on this process. The office is putting out a campus climate survey in the spring that will allow students to voice their opinions on how to improve civil discourse and other issues on campus.
“The climate nationally has changed since our last report so I think we’re going to see some change in data,” he said.
This is part of a larger campaign to revolutionize the way the campus deals with bias incidents, cleverly titled, “University of No Hate.”

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor-in-Chief

Glenn Rohrbacker is a junior at the University of New Haven studying communications with a concentration in journalism and minors in Political Science...

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U.N.H. Looks to Become “University of No Hate”