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College encourages students to report signs ‘color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys’ as bias incident

School asks that students report ‘bias incidents’ to college authorities

Williams College’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity advises students to report signs “color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys” as “bias incidents,” claiming such signage is “abhorrent and intolerable.”

It’s one example of nearly two-dozen possible bias incidents listed as part of Williams College’s anti-bias “Speak Up” program. Additional potential bias incidents listed include name-calling, “avoiding or excluding others,” stereotyping and calling someone or something “gay.”

Other offenses? “Telling someone they have to wear pants because they are male and a skirt because they are female” and “imitating someone’s cultural norm or practice,” according to the Speak Up program.

The reporting guide clarifies that bias-related incidents, “while abhorrent and intolerable,” are not crimes. Students are advised that they can report bias incidents to Campus Safety and Security as well as the health center and dean of students, among other options.

It is unclear how students who commit such bias incidents are handled or punished.

Neither Stephen Klass, the vice president for campus life, nor Leticia Haynes, the vice president for institutional diversity and equity, responded to repeated requests from The College Fix asking if these examples of bias incidents had ever taken place on campus.

The Speak Up program defines a “bias incident” as an “act of conduct, speech, or expression that target individuals and groups based on race, religion, ethnic/national origin gender, gender identity/expression, age, ability, or sexual orientation.”

Fighting bias incidents, according to the program, require “a community committed to fundamental human dignity and equality to successfully address.”

When an incident is reported, according to the Williams College website, it is reviewed by a committee, which verifies the incident and posts it on a university website. The website is only viewable by members of the Williams College community and is inaccessible to outsiders.

There has been no recent reporting on bias incidents in the Williams Record, the school’s student-run newspaper. In November 2012, the paper reported on a student who wrote “All beaners must die” on another student’s white board, but upon further investigation, it was discovered that the perpetrator was not acting maliciously but was instead responding to a conversation held about hate crimes and word usage.

A 2013 bias incident reported on by the Williams Record featured a drawing of a penis on a white board with a racial slur written on it. Following that event, the Vice President of Campus Life, who is still in the position, said, “The way that the campus responds will continue to evolve as we experience these distressing events as a community, and as we find strength as a community.”

The website and reporting for bias incidents began at Williams College in April of 2008 as “an attempt to overcome a lack of collective knowledge of discrimination at Williams.”

MORE: University provides 87 different programs to fight bias on campus

MORE: Fraternity reported for ‘bias incident’ of wearing construction outfits on May 5

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About the Author
Aryssa Damron -- Yale University