Bias list at Ohio State Univ includes American Indian costume, piñata string, and ‘platonic’ relationships
A left-out piñata string mistook for a noose, American Indian costumes, and comments concerning a platonic relationship that were reported as sexual harassment are all listed on Ohio State University’s (OSU) official bias incident report.
The list, which ranges from 2008 to 2011, was compiled by OSU’s Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART), the organization in charge of investigating and deliberating on cases of alleged bias on campus.
Other bias incidents listed in the report include a religious speech that called homosexuality “immoral,” sexually graphic illustrations posted inside dorm rooms, and numerous cases of students overhearing derogatory remarks spoken in private conversation.
In addition, a “hate crime alert” was issued by the university last year after someone graffitied “Long Live Zimmerman” on the side of a campus building.
According to BART’s website, the list of possible actions toward students who are investigated for bias can range from the case being listed as “documented” to the filing of a report with campus police.
A BART representative did not return Campus Reform’s request for comment on the school’s handling of bias issues.
Azhar Majeed, a spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said he believes the school’s response to bias incidents often restrict students’ rights to free speech on campus.
“It’s a very common type of speech code, just as much as a harassment policy or a free speech zone and in the same kind of way, it restricts free speech,” Majeed said.
According to Majeed, schools such as OSU should adopt “aspirational” policies for dealing with bias issues on campus rather than a policy that is designed to punish students.
“We’ve worked with universities… to make these kinds of policies more aspirational. To make them clear that you’ll not be punished under this policy, this is just an expressive value statement for how we want our student body to conduct themselves,” Majeed concluded.
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