Confronting Bias-Based Incidents: Staying Safe in the Face of Hate

 If you saw people having a bias-based altercation, would you know what to do? Or if you saw a racial slur scrawled on a campus wall, do you know what steps you could take to have it removed?

On Jan. 14, a sticker making a disparaging remark about biracial couples was discovered in a women’s bathroom in Gaiser Hall. The next day, the Bias Based Incident Response Team sent out an email offering tips on safely confronting bias-based incidents.

Incidents like these are taken very seriously. According to Security and Safety Services Director Mike See, the Bias Review Team does everything they can do to remove offensive items, along with identifying and disciplining responsible parties and supporting those negatively impacted.

Offensive items are typically found in men’s or gender-neutral restrooms. Both security and custodial staff are continually looking for items that would violate college policies, as well as the perpetrator, See said.

The first tip when faced with bias is to make sure you are safe and know that you are not required to confront or educate anyone if you don’t feel comfortable. The second tip is to report any incidents to the Office of Diversity and Equality.

Military veteran and first year diesel technician Solomon Thornton, has witnessed bias-based incidents often. “In the military, you see these things all the time, but they are handled very differently than in the civilian side,” Thornton said.

Thornton recommends having another person with you if you are going to confront an incident. Otherwise, just report the incident with all the information you have.

Tips four and five are to address the action, not the person’s character or underlying issue. Speak to them more respectfully than they spoke to you.

Due to potential danger, Battle Ground police officer, Lt. Mike Fort does not recommend confronting bias-based incidents. “As a civil rights perspective, I think it’s good to stand up for what you believe in, but I would say don’t do that,” he said.

In his law enforcement experience, Fort stated bias-based incidents can often lead to violence. Mental health stability can also play a factor.

“When people become passionate about their cause, it can lead to feeling righteous which can often lead to violence and in some cases even death,” he said.

The survival tips suggest if there is concern for another person’s mental or emotional health, to contact the Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment (BITA) team or campus security.

Whether students choose to confront or report an incident, always choose to be safe, first.

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