The Bias Assessment and Review Team reported their findings on incidents of harassment and explained their role, especially following the 2016 election, to the Student Assembly in a meeting on Thursday.
Members of BART— a team that strives to give students, faculty and staff a way of reporting and providing resources for people subjected to any form of harassment or harm — presented information about current statistics as well as defined their role and limitations as an organization.
According to their report, there are currently 136 reported incidents of harassment with 111 unique incidents throughout the fiscal 2017 year.
Although S.A. members pointed to an upward trend in reported incidents starting from 2002, Ulysses Smith, the lead diversity and inclusion strategist, stated that this should not necessarily be discouraging.
“Those numbers might seem jarring but I don’t want you to think that means more stuff is happening on campus,” Smith said. “The reality is that we were not tracking these incidents before, so now that we are doing that, we are encouraging more people to report.”
Smith also cited that the newly reformed reporting program, which streamlined multiple bias-reporting forms into one combined form, may be a possible explanation for this increase. Another explanation could be a better reporting culture across campus.
In addition, newly appointed Dean of Students Vijay Pendakur stressed the responsibility of the S.A. to help provide an accurate representation of what BART can and cannot do.
“We do not deal with issues that goes against the code of conduct — that goes to the J.A.’s Office. We do not enforce criminal law — that goes over to the CUPD,” Smith said. “We are not investigative, and we do not really have the power to make sure [bias] doesn’t happen again. Nobody has the ability to do that.”
Instead, Pendakur stressed that BART’s function is as a resource where the victim and perpetrator can have both a “supporting and challenging” conversation.
“BART is a limited power, but it is very powerful,” he added.
Smith chose to end the team’s presentation with a nod to current political tensions, which are not necessarily of protected bias status. However, with 21 incidents reported in relation to the election, he felt it was important to discuss.
“We will protect everyone. I want to make that clear, we do not play favorites,” Smith said.