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Bias Incident Response Team

Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) addresses incidents of real or perceived bias targeting Otis College students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, this team educates the campus community about bias and related institutional policies, protocols, and resources. The BIRT uses a three-pronged approach:

The fundamental role of the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is to:

  • Make appropriate referrals for response to bias incidents in a timely and restorative manner.
  • Promote civility and respect.
  • Educate the campus community about recognizing and reporting bias incidents.

The Bias Incident Response Team does not adjudicate conduct code violations, affirmative action issues, or issues of state or federal law. However, the BIRT can help individuals connect to resources in each of these areas for appropriate resolution. The BIRT’s main function is Case Management and works with campus partners who provide Individual Support. This entails:

  • Reviewing bias incident reports and strategizing on a response as a team.
  • If an incident report includes a violation of law or college policy, it will be put through the student conduct process (for students) or referred to Human Resources (for staff) or to the Provost’s office and Human Resources (for faculty). The BIRT will always yield to college-wide formal processes if there are specific violations and allow those processes to move to a formal resolution
  • BIRT will always seek to balance the scale of response to scale of incident
  • Including ad hoc members on the team as needed, based on the reported incident and community potentially impacted (e.g., LGBT, Veterans, people with disabilities, people of color, etc.).

Depending on the nature and severity of the behavior, the associated bias, and impact, incidents will be addressed as appropriate through interventions such as: education, restorative practices, community dialogue, and formal processes through institutional offices (e.g., review, investigation, resolution).

Not every incident will be a violation of college policy or law, however all reported incidents will be reviewed for an appropriate response.

The BIRT will work to provide education and prevention programs and outreach initiatives in the form of bystander intervention trainings/workshops to students, marketing and communication that educates others about what bias may look like, and help students understand how to effectively report any concerns they have. The goal is to be as transparent as possible about college processes and to help the Otis College community understand how all can contribute to an inclusive and affirming campus climate.

Prevention and Education will be a priority in an effort to move away from being solely reactionary to any reported incidents of alleged bias.

The BIRT also functions to ensure the evaluation of policies and procedures and make any recommendations that may impact College policies to the Senior Team through the Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Related Policies

Equal Opportunity And Nondiscrimination Policy

Otis College of Art and Design is an equal opportunity employer and educator, firmly committed to providing an environment in which people respect the rights of others to live, work, and learn in peace and dignity, and to have equal opportunity to realize their full potential as individuals and members of society. Otis College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious creed, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family care status, veteran status, age, disability, medical condition, national or ethnic origin, or any other protected category under state or federal law in the administration of its student admissions, employment, access to programs, or administration of educational policies. The College prohibits, harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation based on the perception that anyone has any of these characteristics or is associated with a person who has or is perceived as having any of these characteristics.

Otis College will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities unless doing so would result in an undue hardship or fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

This prohibition against discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation includes engaging in behavior that may:

  • Threaten the physical safety of any member of the community;
  • Create an educational environment hostile to any member
  • Discriminate against another person or persons; or
  • Inflict physical, emotional, or mental injury to, or provoke a violent response from, a reasonable person.

Students with questions regarding this policy or believed instances of discrimination or harassment on the basis of any of these criteria should be brought to any of the following individuals:Dr. Nick Negrete, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity & Inclusion at, Jason Cha, Dean of Student Affairs, Jessica Johnson Mills, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator, or file a formal student grievance at The College will not retaliate against anyone for filing a complaint made in good faith and will not knowingly permit retaliation by management, faculty, staff, or students.

BIRT Team Membership

  • Dr. Nick Negrete, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity & Inclusion (Chair)
  • Dwayne Moser, Dean of Academic Affairs
  • Jason Cha, Dean of Student Affairs
  • James Birks, Counseling and Psychological Services/Student Health and Wellness Center
  • Karen Hill, Vice President of Human Resources and Development
  • Steve McQueen, Chief of Safety and Security

Reporting Forms

What Happens After a Report is Received

When a bias incident report is submitted, BIRT will respond to reported incidents in the following ways:

View BIRT Flow Chart

  1. Information from an incident report is received by the BIRT Coordinator/AVP for DEI. BIRT responds to individual(s) submitting a report to acknowledge receipt and to also offer appropriate support and a possible initial meeting to discuss the incident in more detail.
  2. BIRT Team is convened in person or over email to review the report and determine whether a bias or hate incident is likely to have occurred. Reported incidents are reviewed as promptly as possible.
  3. As necessary, the BIRT Coordinator consults with other College officials (VP of Human Resources, Dean of Academic Affairs, Residence Life and Housing, Safety and Security, etc.) and relevant offices to coordinate responses.
  4. If the reported incident is determined to involve bias, and there is a possibility of a policy violation or violation of law, BIRT will forward to appropriate bodies such as Human Resources and Development, Provosts’ Office or Local Police, in order to allow for appropriate formal processes to be followed first and foremost. The Bias Incident Response Team does not adjudicate conduct code violations, affirmative action issues, or issues of state or federal law. However, the BIRT can help individuals connect to resources in each of these areas for appropriate resolution.
  5. If the incident does not rise to a level of policy violations and/or crimes, BIRT will move forward to address and resolve in the most supportive and restorative manner, and involve all parties, as appropriate.
  6. The Dean of Student Affairs and in some instances, the Provost’s Office and Safety and Security may investigate reported incidents of bias or hate crimes, and forwards the results to BIRT for inclusion in report summaries.  
  7. Resolution of the reported incident is the main goal of BIRT, and this can entail a number of avenues, depending on the scale of the incident, the impact, and willingness to move forward from both parties, and openness to restorative approaches.
  8. When a reported incident has had a campus-wide impact or involves campus risk, a campus wide email may be sent. In certain situations, the President may also send a message to the campus community. 

Otis College strives to provide an educational, working, and living environment free from discrimination, harassment, intolerance, and hate. Such behavior will not be tolerated. The purpose of the Bias Incident Response Team is to provide information about responding to bias incidents that occur on campus, and to outline the procedures and resources available to members of the Otis College community. It is not the purpose or the intent of this protocol to define whether or not an act may violate Otis College Policy or State or Federal law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bias Incident

Bias is a personal inclination or temperament based on unreasoned judgment or belief. Bias may be reflected in behavior implicitly (nonverbal) or explicitly (verbal or written) that can be threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, hostile, unwelcoming, exclusionary, demeaning, degrading, or derogatory and is based on a person’s real or perceived identity or group affiliation, including (but not limited to) race, age, disability status, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status or religion. 

NOTE: This definition of bias is intentionally broad to reflect our values to create and sustain an inclusive, safe, and productive community for all of our members. This definition is meant to be helpful in articulating any experiences students, staff, or faculty may have that may be considered bias or a bias incident.

Hate Crime

California Penal Code Sections on Hate Crimes California law recognizes that certain crimes are more serious where a victim is singled out because of their actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. These offenses are referred to as hate crimes, and can serve as a stand-alone crime under California Penal Code section 422.6, as an aggravating factor under section 422.7, or as an enhancement under section 422.75.

§ 422.55 – Defines “hate crime” as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation; or because of the person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

§ 422.6 – Makes it a stand-alone crime to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten, by force or threat of force, another person’s free exercise or enjoyment of their civil rights (§ 422.6, subds. (a), (c)), or knowingly deface, damage, or destroy their property (§ 422.6, subd. (b)), because of that person’s actual or perceived protected characteristic(s).

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) convenes to ensure that affected parties and others have access to appropriate support and to assist the College a coordinated campus response to bias-related incidents and situations that may impact campus climate. The primary functions of BIRT are to respond, support and communicate to the campus when an incident warrants. While the core team meets immediately after an incident report, the broader BIRT resource meets periodically to discuss trends, campus impacts, and may suggest other campus responses.

The Bias Incident Response Team includes the following administrators, faculty and students. A smaller core team meets as soon as possible following a report incident to assess:

  • Dr. Nick Negrete, Associate VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion(Chair)
  • Dwayne Moser, Dean of Academic Affairs
  • Jason Cha, Dean of Student Affairs
  • Dr. Carol Branch, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator
  • James Birks, Student Counseling Services/Student Health and Wellness Center
  • Karen Hill, Vice President of Human Resources and Development
  • Steve McQueen, Chief of Safety and Security

When BIRT receives a report, the content is reviewed by core team members to determine if factors of race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age are present and if there is evidence or information pointing to possible bias. BIRT also considers the impact of a behavior and spoken or written expression on individuals, groups or the campus community that may not reach the level of a bias incident, but has an impact or potential impact on campus climate.

Otis College upholds all rights if individuals and protects an individual’s right to free speech and open expression. However, free speech does not justify discrimination, harassment or speech that may be biased or hateful. Lastly, we report information such as general descriptions and location of the incident when relevant, but we do not report personal identifying information.

BIRT core team members thoroughly reviews each report and reaches out to both affected person(s) and alleged offenders when known. When a report is believed to reflect bias, BIRT takes steps to respond, record the incident and, when warranted, communicate to the campus.

BIRT recognizes the importance of balancing an individual’s rights to confidentiality and privacy with the community’s need to know how the college is responding to an incident. All incidents reported to the Bias Incident Response Team are handled with privacy and discretion. Any personal information obtained during the response process will be subject to disclosure only to the extent required by law, or as required for the College to respond appropriately.

Confidentiality vs. Transparency

Occasionally, an individual may request anonymity or that information regarding a particular incident not be shared publicly. If there is no potential harm or impact on other individuals or the campus community, BIRT will respect an individual’s right to privacy. In cases where there is a community need to know, BIRT will communicate with the individual to agree on mutually beneficial ways to make public the incident.