On Monday, Oct. 5, a campus update was sent out via email informing the SUNY New Paltz community of the implementation of the new Bias Reporting Form.
In the past, the school states that it has always supported and responded to students who have experienced bias-related acts, however this form is a new way to “streamline” the process for both students and employees to report these acts.
“It is a regrettable reality that many students and employees experience language or behavior from others spurred by bias against them because of individual features or group membership,” the campus update said.
The school noted that even in instances where someone may not understand the weight of a microaggression, it is still worth reporting so that professionals in the department can assess the situation.
“[Acts of bias] are not consistent with our values of inclusion, our sense of community, and our goal of creating a learning and working environment where every individual is welcomed and given full opportunity to succeed and thrive.”
This form is a part of SUNY New Paltz’s commitment to becoming more actively anti-racist set forth in their June 30 pledge.
“We want to encourage students and staff to report incidents when they occur to ensure that the campus can address the incident and prevent future instances from happening. Most importantly, we want to provide that individual with support and resources,” said Tanhena Pacheco-Dunn, Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY New Paltz and the author of the campus update.
Pacheco-Dunn is one of the members of the newly formed Bias Response Team. This is the team that will respond to the reports of bias and is composed of staff members from various departments such as Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Theyall practice trauma-informed approaches.
Besides Pacheco-Dunn, the members of this team include: Emma Morcone, Title IX/LGBTQ+ Coordinator; Dr. Gweneth Lloyd, Director of Psychological Counseling Center; Robin Cohen La Valle, Assistant Vice President & Dean of Students; Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, Associate Provost; and Deb Gould, Assistant Provost.
When a bias incident is reported, this team will convene to figure out who the most appropriate member is to meet with the individual reporting the incident. The members of the team will “serve as points of contact for the reporting individual, review reports for trends or patterns and make recommendations about follow-up, services, educational or intervention measures available at the campus,” according to the campus update.
In regards to punitive actions, much of this depends on the parties involved and whether or not they are SUNY New Paltz students or employees, and where they take place.
The school only has jurisdiction over the current students and employees at SUNY New Paltz.
“If the bias experience occurs outside of campus or the Village, we will offer support to the reporting individual but our ability to address the incident would be outside of our purview,” Pacheco-Dunn said.
If the incident involves two SUNY New Paltz students, the judicial process is applicable, as well as other disciplinary actions if staff or faculty are involved.
However, even if the incident doesn’t rise to the level of judicial or disciplinary action, there are other options available.
For example, “If the incident occurred between two SUNY New Paltz students, other options may be available if the incident is not a violation of our Student Code of Conduct. Interim remedies such as No Contact orders, an official timeout between two SUNY New Paltz students, can be offered,” Pacheco-Dunn said.
No Contact Orders are more than just “time outs,” however. They are strictly enforced orders that involve both the reporting individual and the accused individual from having any forms of contact or communication, including electronically or where another student acts on either one’s behalf, according to the SUNY New Paltz Title IX information page. It also supports changes in “residential accommodations” and “academic scheduling.” In addition, school officials will set up schedules for when the accused student can enter “buildings and property at a time when such buildings and property are not being accessed by the reporting individual.”
Non-compliance with a No Contact Order will result in disciplinary action.
However, students will always be offered supportive resources regardless of where the incident occurred and who it involved.
Students are also encouraged to fill out the form with whatever information they have, even if it is incomplete.
“While the amount of information can impact the college’s ability to respond formally, completing the form with whatever information is available can help the college support the reporting individual or determine if the experience is happening for others on campus,” Pacheco-Dunn said.
“We want students to know that SUNY New Paltz is dedicated to educating our community on ways of preventing all types of bias but we know we can’t eliminate those experiences entirely,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “We hope this process will encourage individuals to come forward, to have their voices heard and be part of an empathetic, survivor-centered approach. Understanding these experiences will help us do better and it will help our campus realize our goals of being inclusive and equitable.”
The form can be accessed here or via my.newpaltz.edu.