The University of Tampa (UT) is committed to providing a work and educational environment that is free from unlawful harassment and discrimination. The University maintains a strict policy prohibiting any kind of harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, military or veteran status, marital status, genetic information or any other protected characteristic. Likewise, ethnic, religious, age-related, disability, gender or sexual orientation considerations will not be used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting any student, faculty member or employee (UT Non-Discrimination Statement).
The University of Tampa fosters a campus culture that is inclusive and supportive to aid in student success and persistence efforts through the core values of diversity and inclusion demonstrated by:
- Creating a learning environment that fosters dialogue and encourages and supports unique perspectives and values;
- Recognizes and address the needs of differing student populations;
- Offers programs and services that promote and demonstrate inclusion.
All members of our Spartan community have a responsibility to take an active role in reporting acts of bias that compromise our inclusive learning environment to the Bias Education Resource Team (BERT).
What is the BERT?
The Bias Education Resource Team is a group of University employees that provides support and resources to those individuals who have been targeted or impacted by an act of bias. The role of the BERT is to offer impacted community members a space to have their voice heard, opportunities for education to mitigate or prevent similar occurrences in the future, and to ensure a comprehensive and timely response to bias incidents. Collectively, this will lead to positive change for both the individual and the campus climate.
The BERT is intended to educate the UT community and support those who experience bias and harassment. The BERT is a support and resource campus entity, not a governing body.
The BERT does not replace existing University protocols (i.e. Student Conduct, Academic Integrity and Campus Safety).
What is bias?
Bias is a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward an individual or a group of individuals who possess perceived common characteristics such as sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, military or veteran status, marital status, genetic information or any other protected characteristic.
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an act directed toward an individual or group based upon actual or perceived common characteristics, as defined by the term bias above. A bias incident can constitute discrimination. These acts can create an unsafe or hostile environment or have a negative psychological, emotional or physical effect on an individual, group or community. Bias incidents may occur regardless of whether the act is legal, illegal, intentional or unintentional.
The severity of a bias incident, and the University’s response to these incidents, can vary based on factors including location, context and behavior, pre-meditation, and whether the incident presents an impact to the University community. Any University response will follow University processes established as applicable.
What happens when a report is submitted?
When an impacted party and/or witness submits a Bias Incident Report form, the general practice for the report is;
If reporting party is a UT student or registered student organization, BERT coordinator or designee assesses care needs, conducts outreach, refers to University partners as appropriate and assembles the BERT if needed.
If reporting party is a UT faculty or staff member, BERT coordinator or designee assesses care needs, conducts outreach and refers to Human Resources to follow processes of the faculty/staff harassment policy.
If reporting party is not a UT community member, BERT coordinator or designee conducts outreach, as appropriate.
What are potential responses to a bias incident?
The BERT may consider a variety of educational responses based on the severity and context of the bias incident.
Examples of responses may include, but are not limited to:
- Establish direct contact with the person or group involved in the incident to discuss the impact of a bias incident;
- Develop and provide educational resources or opportunities to individuals, departments and other groups to address the impact of a bias incident;
- Communicate the University’s values and strong commitment to addressing and countering bias incidents to individuals, specific populations or the University community;
- Communicate to individuals, specific populations or the University community about what happened, why it is important to address the incident and what responses may be underway or possible;
- Provide consistent support, resources and information regarding the University’s response to the individual or group impacted;
- Provide information to develop a safety plan with the Office of Operations and Planning or Dean of Students Office;
- Provide tools to faculty and staff through the Center for Teaching and Learning to internally address the impact of incidents that occur in academic spaces;
- Offer mediation through the Dean of Students Office, or other appropriate University offices;
- Share information and resources with student media organizations;
- Ensuring that any offending material, such as graffiti or defaced posters have been removed.