'Everyone has bias,' Vanderbilt workshop claims

Adam Sabes
Mississippi Campus Correspondent

  • Vanderbilt University will be hosting a series of workshops this month, teaching attendees about “Inclusive Excellence” by focusing on “Everyday Bias” and “Unconscious Bias.”
  • According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Sandra Barnes, "tackling unconscious bias” is a main focus for the school community this year.
  • Vanderbilt University will be hosting a series of workshops this month, teaching attendees about “Inclusive Excellence” by focusing on “Everyday Bias” and “Unconscious Bias.”

    The Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Vanderbilt will be hosting these workshops as part of a “collaborative effort” to “develop unconscious bias educational opportunities for faculty, staff, and students” that started this past February.

    "Everyone has bias. It’s part of human nature and can be a survival mechanism."   

    Vanderbilt will be offering two sessions in July, starting with “Inclusive Excellence 101: Unconscious Bias” on July 19, during which students can “learn about ways to identify and address unconscious bias,” which the school defines as “a prejudice or unsupported judgment in favor of or against a thing, individual, or group as compared to another in a way that is typically considered unfair.”

    [RELATED: Marquette students required to attend ‘social justice’ workshops]

    According to the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion website, these unconscious biases are “often exhibited toward minority groups based on factors such as class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, able-bodiness, immigrant status, and other diverse traits.”

    After completing “Inclusive Excellence 101: Unconscious Bias,” attendees can then take “Inclusive Excellence 201: Everyday Bias” on July 26, which according to the description “combines psychological approaches like stereotyping threat, unintentional blindness, and selective attention with diversity approaches which focus on micro-advantages and micro-inequities.”

    The description also asserts that “everyone has bias,” explaining that bias is “part of human nature” and can be used as a “survival mechanism.”

    In addition to these “Inclusive Excellence” workshops, students can also request to take “Inclusive Excellence 301: Unconscious Bias—Next Steps,” “Inclusive Excellence 401: Effective Communication and Collaboration across Diverse Groups,” “Inclusive Excellence 501: Allyship and Relationship-Building,” “Inclusive Excellence 601: Inter- and Intra-Racial and Ethnic Dynamics (Part 1),” “Inclusive Excellence 701: Inter- and Intra-Racial and Ethnic Dynamics (Part 2),” and  “Inclusive Excellence 801: Sexuality, Gender, and Transgender Dynamics.”

    [RELATED: UW ignores own research, hosts ‘implicit bias’ workshop]

    Assistant Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Sandra Barnes elaborated on the school’s efforts in an op-ed for The Tennessean, declaring that “tackling unconscious bias” is a main focus for the school community this year.

    “We want to help people recognize [unconscious bias] within themselves and give them tools to think and act differently,” she explained. “It won't be easy, because we need to change mindsets. But in my experience, people do better when they know better.”

    Campus Reform reached out to Barnes for additional comment on the workshops, but did not receive a response.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10





    Adam Sabes

    Adam Sabes

    Mississippi Campus Correspondent

    Adam Sabes is Mississippi Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. He is a junior at Mississippi State University, where he is majoring in Journalism. He also contributes to Red Alert Politics. 

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