The Associate Students of the University of Puget Sound (ASUPS) with support from the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC), the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement (CICE), and the Offices of Diversity and Inclusion, and Institutional Research, seeks the campus community’s support in raising awareness about bias and its impact on campus members at the University of Puget Sound through this anti-bias campaign effort. ASUPS goal is to share and make visible some of the experiences students have had on campus and bring awareness to this issue on our campus and throughout the nation. Students express concern that these experiences are often ignored, looked over, or minimized.
The ASUPS driven and student led anti-bias campaign consists of a video where students courageously share their experiences with bias on campus and remind the campus community that bias and hate are not tolerated on our campus. In addition to the video, ASUPS has put up posters around campus highlighting statistics about student experiences and campus community perceptions about discrimination and harassment on our campus. This campaign is intended to highlight the different ways public biases influence feelings of belonging and can alienate students from diverse backgrounds. The video can also be viewed on ASUPS and CICE Facebook pages.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of reported campus hate crimes increased by 25 percent from 2015 to 2016, and a 2016 Chronicle of Higher Education article stated that colleges and universities reported a total of 1,250 hate crimes, defined as offenses motivated by biases of race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
The University of Puget Sound is not exempt from issues of bias and discrimination. This year, the University of Puget Sound has received and responded to multiple cases of public bias, including anti-Semitic and racist graffiti around campus. Public bias messaging, regardless of the format (writing, doodling, markings, and/or drawings), generally refers to the open communication of bias, involving derogatory and insensitive language and/or images that may cause physical or psychological harm, whether or not vandalism has occurred. Examples of public bias include defacing or markings on posters, or expression in posters, e-mail, cyber-communication, messaging on classroom desks, bathroom stalls, whiteboards, and any other messaging format that does not result in property damage, but does create a hostile environment that causes psychological harm to the members of the Puget Sound community.
This year, the University of Puget Sound has received and responded to 27 reported incidents of bias; 16 of which were deemed a bias incident including anti-Semitic and racist graffiti, and gendered, homophobic, and racist public bias, around campus. Public bias messaging, regardless of the format (writing, doodling, markings, and/or drawings), generally refers to the open communication of bias, involving derogatory and insensitive language and/or images that may cause physical or psychological harm, whether or not vandalism has occurred. Examples of public bias include defacing or markings on posters, or expression in posters, e-mail, cyber-communication, messaging on classroom desks, bathroom stalls, whiteboards, and any other messaging format that does not result in property damage, but does create a hostile environment that causes psychological harm to the members of the Puget Sound community.
Based on the Campus Climate Survey from 2015:
Engaging with and thinking about challenging topics such as racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry, and other forms of bias and discrimination may be challenging, and even daunting, but that doesn't make the need to grow our understanding and awareness of them less important in our community. The percent of undergraduates who identify as minoritized rose from 24.1% five years ago to 24.8% in the Fall of 2017, and students who are underrepresented minoritized has risen from 11.3% five years ago to 17.7%. Most of that increase is due to first time in college students, of whom 25.1% identified as minoritized five years ago vs. 31.0% in Fall 2017. Their first to second year retention rate lags behind the class as a whole by 1% point on average, and the six year graduation rate lags by 4 percentage points. Each year Puget Sound matriculates over 600 new students and they bring with them different perspectives, ideas, and values. This is part of what makes higher education vibrant. Similarly, as an institution of higher learning, we understand the importance of providing the campus community opportunities for learning about bias and/or unlearning bias, and embrace our role in proactively carving out spaces and creating opportunities for education and awareness to take place. While we are a campus community that values the open dialogue and intellectual exchange of ideas, it is important to make clear that this freedom in no way serves as permission for discriminatory and hurtful bias to take place.
You are welcome to view ASUPS Anti-Bias Campaign video above, or on the ASUPS or CICE Facebook page to hear some of the experiences of students on our campus. The campaign is a proactive effort designed to help campus members have critical conversations about bias. These topics are often difficult, and at times it may be uncomfortable to engage with them. The structures of our society have taught many of us ways of thinking that are oppressive and no less a part of who we are as a community. It may be jarring to upend that thinking. This is normal. We encourage campus members to push through, to reach out to friends and colleagues who can help process, and to keep learning. Below you will find educational resources and support services available for campus members.
The resources below were curated by students, faculty, and staff at Puget Sound and serve as a starting place for you to engage in these difficult conversations; no judgment, just learning. We encourage you to browse the following content and to be talking about them with your own communities, on or off campus.
The University of Puget Sound works consistently to cultivate a safe and inclusive learning environment where all members of our campus can contribute and flourish. Public bias, whether verbal or non-verbal, including messaging on desks, walls, stalls, doors, whiteboards, email, and social media, can evoke feelings of marginality and compromises a welcoming and educational atmosphere. Please support the culture of inclusive learning we aim to achieve at Puget Sound.