Colby College tried to stop the public from reading campus reports of “bias incidents,” by password-protecting the “log” page.
As the kids might say, #BiasFail.
Samantha Harris, director of policy research for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, was researching the “bias incident prevention and response” protocol at the liberal arts school in Maine when she tweeted a screenshot of one such bias report.
— Samantha Harris (@SamatFIRE) June 21, 2016
Less than a week later, password protection went on the log page, but the invaluable Internet Archive preserved four academic years of bias reports through this school year – nearly 50 total, at a school with fewer than 2,000 students – including these gems:
Two people of the same sex got pointed at while kissing
A basketball game attendee mocked the WNBA
One student told another to ask black people what “ashy” means
Students wore hula skirts and coconut bikinis at a fake luau
One of Harris’s favorites, she wrote, was filed in 2012: “Swastika carved into a pumpkin. *Report canceled, not a swastika.”
It’s not a surprise that students report such minor incidents because “Orwellian” administrators are “actively encouraging [their] students to be on the alert for any possible expressions of bias and to report them to the administration,” Harris says.
Keep in mind that a college of fewer than 2,000 students has 13 people on the bias team – mostly administrators but a few professors and students as well.
FIRE didn’t name Colby’s bias policy its “speech code of the month” for July solely for its definition of a bias incident, according to Harris – it’s in the context of Colby’s other policies affecting speech that makes it so dangerous:
Among other things, the college defines harassment as any unwelcome, hostile remarks, whether “spoken or written.” So with this exceedingly broad definition of harassment in place, a reportable bias incident could be almost anything.