After diversity issues plagued campus last semester, the University of Nevada, Reno, is now introducing a Hate, Bias and Harassment hotline and a discrimination report form.

The form and hotline are live with the start of the spring semester and are meant to provide avenues for students and faculty to report any incidents that might be considered hate, bias and/or harassment that occur on campus or with another university member.

University officials held multiple forums last semester that addressed the diversity issues the university was facing — from incidents involving the university police services to graffiti of swastikas in the Church Fine Arts stairwell. Stories of students facing hateful rhetoric in classrooms and around campus came to light, and they asked that the university have a place where they could report these incidents.

“These smaller things are happening but they’re things that affect our learning environment and the university just wasn’t aware of everything that was happening,” said UNR Title IX Coordinator Maria Doucettperry. “So this is one way that we thought we could get that input. We can find out what’s happening if something is happening, then we can address it because that is part of the problem — just awareness. Students didn’t feel like they had an avenue to bring that to our attention.”

While the form, which can be found on the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX website, is similar to the sexual assault form, these situations are handled differently.

While a report of sexual assault would usually be handled within the Title IX office and with their resources, the Title IX office will be the entry point of a discrimination report that will likely be outsourced.

For example, if the issue is an academic issue, Title IX will consult with the dean of the college the issue is present in to work out a solution. If the incident violates the university’s policy against discrimination, the Title IX office will open an investigation.

“I think anything that gives us the opportunity to ensure that we have a diverse and inclusive campus is the way to go,” Doucettperry said. “We can do something as simple as adding a form, giving people an avenue to speak, to voice their concerns, to bring it to our attention, then we should be doing it. Especially if it’s something that doesn’t take a whole bunch of resources right now, we see what happens with it, and we move accordingly. We don’t want to have the excuse of ‘we didn’t know’. And we want to give you the opportunity to bring that to our attention.”

File Photo/Nevada Sagebrush
A protestor holds a sign during a Black Lives Matter rally at the University of Nevada, Reno, in August 2017 that was held in response to the Charlottesvile white nationalist protest. The university has created a hotline in order for incidents of hate, bias and harassment to be reported and resolved.

 

The hotline has had only one complaint so far this semester, and it is unclear what procedures will follow. Doucettperry said it is a case by case situation for now, and it will become more formal once more complaints come in and a system is created. She envisions it to be more of a referral system.

“There are a lot of avenues and resources people don’t know about, and we want to be that bridge that connects them,” Doucettperry said.

The Title IX office is working with a team of people from these different resources to assess the need and work out the procedural logistics.

While the Title IX office is taking on more responsibility by adding the hotline and form under their jurisdiction, they will not be adding more people to their staff. Doucettperry said once the hotline and form are used more, they will reassess the need and add more resources if necessary.

The hotline and form are strictly for incidents that are not criminal. If you feel a crime has been committed, Doucettperry encourages you to contact the police as they are equipped to deal with criminal proceedings.

Incidents that might be considered hate, bias or harassment are comments, treatment from other students and employees and anything that might make the university a hostile learning environment.

The Hate, Bias and Harrassment form, and hotline can be found on the Title IX website, or call (775) 784-7707.

“Everybody is listening,” Doucetteperry said. “I know it doesn’t answer everyone’s questions and concerns, but I don’t know that anything will address everything, but I think it’s a great first step in the right direction.”

Madeline Purdue can be reached at mpurdue@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.