Many, like myself, believe that anonymous bias reporting systems fail to provide meaningful due process, infringe upon free expression, are enforced completely arbitrarily- and are politically motivated. The role of the Chief Diversity Officer in practice demonstrates that it is anything but neutral. Chief-inquisition-officer in practice acts as a prosecutor to try speech that is deemed problematic.
This is spelled out in more detail under Executive Order 01: Undergraduate Student Government’s Bias Response and Training. The categories of bias determined by the ‘Bias Incident Report Form’ are far ranging, including age, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, physical appearance, politics, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status and more. Furthermore, these bias related incidents are not even limited to being in the classroom. Included on the types of incidents are email or internet messages, offensive classroom comments, verbal comments, visual representations, social media posts, written slurs, etc. Giving a student, even a wise and enlightened student, the ability to decide what is biased is madness, especially because not everyone sees the same things as bias, and no one has a monopoly on the truth.
“Giving a student, even a wise and enlightened student, the ability to decide what is biased is madness, especially because not everyone sees the same things as bias, and no one has a monopoly on the truth.”
Making matters worse, due to the anonymity of the accusations, people are unable to face their accusers and question their credibility. Someone upset with another person may file an anonymous bias report, and subject someone to sanctions without any assessment of credibility. It is theoretically possible to suspend students from Undergraduate Student Government for explaining a controversial opinion, without any recourse, and demanding confidentiality. Even if the inquisition cannot find a valid reason to punish, being able to put someone through a trial for protected speech is a punishment. This chills free expression and creates hostile climates as many have attested to in Undergraduate Student Government.
An anonymous report of bias in Undergraduate Student Government removed a student from his senate responsibilities for more than two months. He was accused of being biased for his comments during a proceeding about calling ‘All Lives Matter’ intrinsically racist. To explain his position, he pointed out that Tim Scott, the United States’ only black United States senator, is an example of someone (who’s presumably not racist) who sees the movement as a net bad. The student followed up his example with Rasmussen Reports (a reputable national polling organization) detailing last year that among black people, 47% prefer the phrase “all lives matter.” While he was not forced to take a Diversity Awareness Training (as suggested by current Chief Diversity Officer), he was required to change his committee assignment and was suspended for two months from his position.
An anonymous report of bias in Undergraduate Student Government removed a student from his senate responsibilities for more than two months. He was accused of being biased for his comments during a proceeding about calling ‘All Lives Matter’ intrinsically racist.”
Although a position I dislike, it would be one thing if the person in charge of bias reports was equal opportunity. However, when people make claims like ACAB, which some see as offensive or hateful, or describe everyone who disagrees as privileged white folks, and are not punished equally, it becomes ever more apparent that these inquisitors do not even pretend to be fair in their judgements.
If using evidence to support unpopular points of view is seen as something that is biased, and ought to be reported, no one is safe.