What is BIRT?
The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) was created to assist students who report bias incidents on the UNC Asheville campus. We support them by listening to their accounts of their experiences, discussing resources and providing both formal and informal options for moving forward. The student is in charge of the process, and we will not take any action that is not authorized by the student. Students can make reports regardless of whether or not they want to take action. The Bias Incident Response Team is composed of staff and faculty from across the UNC Asheville community to ensure accountability, balance, and a commitment to academic freedom and free expression. In no way does BIRT work seek to infringe on these academic freedoms, police language, or create a chilling effect on free expression.
What we do:
- Support target(s) of bias incidents and hate crimes, including those who are directly involved as well as identity groups that may be affected.
- Take reports about bias incidents and, if the person wants, discuss options for how they might move forward.
- Assess the campus climate around issues of diversity and civility.
- Educate the UNC Asheville community about the protocol for reporting bias incidents and the role of BIRT in determining whether reports are bias-related.
- Recommend appropriate actions and educational programs that are both preventative and responsive to bias incidents.
- Meet with student groups, staff members, and academic departments to engage discussions about diversity on our campus.
What BIRT is not:
- We are not a judicial or disciplinary body.
- We do not decide guilt or innocence, or impose punishment.
- We are not the thought or speech police. We don’t tell people what to think or how to talk.
- We are not a crisis response team. Anyone in a dangerous situation (e.g., a violent or potentially violent situation) needs to contact Public Safety immediately. If the situation involves a bias incident, we can take a report at a later time.
- We do not replace or subordinate any existing structure or process for reporting and addressing acts of harassment, discrimination, or violence including but not limited to processes of the University Police Department, Title IX, student code of community standards and citizenship education process.
Options through BIRT:
It is important to understand that BIRT is a formal non-disciplinary process. In an effort to promote inclusivity, wholeness, and in keeping with our commitment to restorative practices, BIRT may provide any of these formal or informal options when attempting to respond to an incident of bias on campus:
- Mediation between the involved parties.
- Referral to an appropriate campus and/or community resource for additional support (ex. The Office of Multicultural Affairs, Health & Counseling services, Office of Academic Accessibility, etc..)
- Referral to Faculty Conciliator
- Referral to Employee Relations or Human Resources, if involving a faculty or staff member.
- Referral to Citizenship Education
- Recommendation of an Official University response
- No Action