Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)

Mission Statement of UNC Asheville about Diversity

In an effort to advance UNC Asheville’s mission of building an inclusive and sustainable environment, the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) strives to promote a safe, hate-free environment where all people can live, work, and learn.  Through using the restorative justice model, we use preventative education to empower UNC Asheville students to strive for healing and growth as we work to report and respond to bias incidents and hate crimes. 

UNC Asheville Diversity Definition

At UNC Asheville, diversity means creating and supporting an inclusive and sustainable community, one in which people of all backgrounds interact respectfully and in which each member is valued. To reach this goal requires that we enhance the range of human diversity on campus, including but not limited to dimensions such as race and ethnicity, age, religion, disability, socio-economic status, gender expression, gender and sexual identity, national origin, culture and ideological beliefs.

BIRT Team Membership

  • Chair

Jackie McHargue, Dean of Students

  • Permanent Membership

Melanie Fox, Associate Dean of Students & Director, Residential Education
Chief Eric Boyce, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Public Safety

Contact Information

Office Dean of Students

Dean Jackie McHargue
jmchargu@unca.edu
828-250-2370

 

Responsibilities of BIRT

Educate the UNC Asheville community about the protocol for reporting bias incidents and crimes and the role of BIRT in determining whether reports are bias-related.

Support target(s) of bias incidents and hate crimes, including those who are directly involved as well as identity groups that may be affected.
Monitor the campus climate around issues of diversity and civility.

Recommend appropriate actions and educational programs that are both preventative and responsive to bias incidents and hate crimes.The Bias Response Team is not intended to 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, student code of community standards and citizenship education process.

 

What Does BIRT Do?

We assist students who report bias incidents. Our primary function is to support students who report bias incidents. We support them by listening to their accounts of their experiences and discussing resources and 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 whether or not they want to take action.
We keep annual statistical records of bias incidents on campus. At the end of each year we compile a statistical summary of the reports received during the year.
Provide skills to empower students to use grassroots methods such as bystander intervention to assist building an inclusive campus environment.
We promote conversation about diversity issues. We also meet with student groups to engage in or moderate discussions about diversity on our campus.

What Does BIRT Not Do?

We aren't a judicial or disciplinary body. We do not decide guilt or innocence and do not mete out punishment. We play no part in disciplinary proceedings.

We aren't an investigative team. We don't go on fact-finding missions. We take reports about bias incidents and, if the student wants to, we discuss options for how the student might move forward. If the student opts to file a formal report and initiate campus disciplinary proceedings, then an investigation will be carried out through that process, which is overseen by Citizenship Education, not BIRT.

We aren't 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 aren't the thought police or speech police. We don't tell people what to think or how to talk.  We do support the students whose ability to feel safe, at home, and welcome in our community is frustrated by the bias around them.

How to Report

BIRT Reporting Form

This report form is for the use of current students, faculty, staff as well as University of North Carolina Asheville community members. Please provide detailed information regarding the bias incident you are referring. A bias incident is an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence or criminal offense committed against any person, group or property that appears to be intentional and motivated by prejudice or bias. Such are usually associated with negative feelings and beliefs with respect to others race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age social class, political affiliation, disability, veteran status, club affiliation or organizational membership.

Once the form is received, a member of the Bias Incident Response Team will review the information and take appropriate action, which may or may not include contacting the student, you, and any others you have identified. If you have any questions related to completing a Bias Incident Report Form, please call 828-250-2370 or email jmchargu@unca.edu.

DO NOT USE THIS FORM IN THE CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. IF THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO ANY PERSON OR PROPERTY CALL UNIVERSITY POLICE, (828) 251-6710 (on campus emergencies), OR 911 (off campus emergencies). This form is not monitored outside of regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:00am-5:00pm.

What is a Bias Complaint?

An act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation - verbal, written or physical - which is personally directed against or targets a University of North Carolina - Asheville student because of that student's race, age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or veteran status.