U of Illinois police: Report ‘bias’ incidents

Police at the University of Illinois told students and community members to report “acts of intolerance” in recent Facebook and Twitter posts.

One of the police department's detectives is also a member of the school's bias response team.

The University of Illinois Police encouraged students and community members to report “acts of intolerance” to the school’s Bias and Assessment Response team and let the police know if they “feel unsafe.”

“Acts of intolerance create an unsafe and unwelcoming environment for campus community members,” the University of Illinois police said on both its Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Remember that you can always report acts of intolerance to the Bias Assessment and Response Team at bart.illinois.edu. Please let us know if you feel unsafe. #ILLINOISsafety.”

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s bias response team defines bias-motivated instances as “actions or expressions that are motivated, at least in part, by prejudice against or hostility toward a person (or group) because of that person’s (or group’s) actual or perceived age, disability/ability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity/expression, national origin, race, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, etc.”

[RELATED: UMN Bias Response Team unable to define ‘bias’ or ‘response’]

Students, faculty, and administrators reported to BART may be required to participate in certain responses, such as mediation, “educational conversations,” and “resolution agreements” and may receive referrals to other offices at the school.

The Bias Assessment and Response Team is staffed by several university employees, including Assistant Deans of Students January Boten and Debra Imel, Associate Dean of Students Justin Brown who functions under the school’s Office for Student Conflict Resolution, which is in charge of investigating and sanctioning students who violate the university’s code of conduct. University of Illinois Police Department detective Rachael Ahart is also part of the bias response team.

“Whatever their motivations, universities implementing Bias Response Teams have cast a wide net, inviting reports of any offensive speech, on virtually any topic, for any reason,” free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said in a 2017 news release. “The result is that speech on political and social subjects, which is likely (and may be intended) to offend, gets reported to law enforcement and student conduct administrators, and bias reporting systems serve to “alert administrators to specific individuals…who would benefit most from diversity inclusion training.” 

[RELATED: University shuts down bias reporting system after complaint]

“This institutionalizes surveillance of activists of all political persuasions, exposes universities (and their administrators) to the prospect of costly First Amendment claims, and encourages an illiberal culture of anonymously reporting students or faculty for subversive or offensive speech—on hundreds of campuses across the country,” FIRE added.

Illini Republicans President Jack Johnson commented on the school’s bias response team to Campus Reform.

“BART is a politicized tool mainly utilized by upset leftists in a childish last-ditch attempt to press those they find politically unsavory,” he said.

The University of Illinois police department did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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