Structural Equity and Bias Response Team

Notifying the Bias Response Team (BRT) of an incident

A student, staff, or faculty member can notify the BRT of a bias incident by completing and submitting the online notification form.  Alternatively, you can notify the BRT by communicating directly with a member of the BRT, who will then complete and submit the online notification form.

If you are dealing with a safety, medical, or mental health emergency, please call 911 or University Public Safety at (360) 650-3911. Do not use this form for help in responding to an emergency situation.

In Fall 2020, Western is launching the Structural Equity and Bias Response Team (SEBRT). A recommendation to create SEBRT was put forward by the President’s Council on Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice during the 2019-20 academic year.

SEBRT consists of a Bias Response Team and a Structural Equity Team. These two teams will work together to support people impacted by bias incidents and examine and offer alternatives to conditions at Western that give rise to such incidents.

SEBRT furthers Western’s commitments

SEBRT contributes to Western’s mission of public service through academic excellence and inclusive achievement. SEBRT upholds the university’s core values and works directly in furtherance of Western’s third and fourth strategic goals, to foster a caring and supportive environment and to pursue justice and equity in our policies, practices, and impacts. 

SEBRT’s work likewise advances the university’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation, which states that “All members of the University community will create and maintain an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment and one in which employees, students, applicants and visitors are treated with dignity and respect.”

Bias Response Team purpose

The BRT’s role is to identify and collaboratively coordinate caring, prompt, and effective responses to bias incidents to (1) support Western students, staff, and faculty who are targeted or impacted by these incidents and (2) educate the Western community about impacts and histories of such bias and actions to prevent future similar acts. The BRT also educates the university community about how to notify BRT of bias incidents.

The BRT does not replace or supersede existing processes through the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Student Conduct, or University Police to investigate alleged violations of university policy or civil rights or criminal law. People may choose to notify the BRT of an incident and also report to University Police and/or the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance. The BRT’s role is one of support and education; the BRT does not impose discipline or sanctions.

What is a bias incident?

A bias incident is language or an action that demonstrates bias against an individual or group of people based on actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation, age, or veteran status. 

Examples of bias incidents can include, but are not limited to, vandalism to personal or University property, defacement of posters, verbal slurs, and physical assault.

A bias incident may contribute to creating an unsafe environment or have a negative psychological, emotional, or physical impact on an individual, group, or community.  A bias incident may occur whether or not there is an intent to cause a negative impact, and whether or not the incident constitutes a crime or violation of Washington law or Western policy.

Structural Equity Team purpose

While the Bias Response Team responds to incidents that occur, the Structural Equity Team uses information about these incidents, and deeper examinations of the conditions leading to specific incidents, to inform longer-term actions and recommendations aimed at building and sustaining an equitable and just environment.  The Structural Equity Team plays an important role in eliminating structural inequities at Western and limiting the impacts of broader societal inequities that influence university operations and community members.

The Structural Equity Team will create an annual public report providing information about reported incidents of bias, responsive actions taken by the Bias Response Team, and work undertaken by the Structural Equity Team, all of which then informs future work of the Structural Equity Team and Western more broadly.