2020 Report: Bias Data Gathering System

The Bias Data Gathering System (BDGS) was introduced on campus in the fall of 2018. It was developed to gather information about the incidence and nature of bias experienced by K community members on campus. This information is needed to guide educational, professional development, and policy
initiatives designed to eradicate bias.

The BDGS is an online system located on the College website that enables people to report incidents anonymously or with whatever level of detail that they choose. Early feedback about the system indicated that some on campus were not aware of it and could not easily locate it on the campus website. In response, the BDGS link was added to the bottom banner of many campus web pages. Faculty were also encouraged by the Provost’s Office to include information about the BDGS in their syllabi during fall 2020 as another means of increasing awareness of the system.

We share here information from the BDGS collected from January 1 – December 31, 2020, and do so in a way that protects the privacy of those involved.

Eight reports were submitted to the Bias Data system in 2020. This compares with zero during the 2019 calendar year. Of these reports, five were actionable in that the reporter provided their name for additional follow up. Three reports were submitted anonymously. Five of the eight reports have been submitted since the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year. One report noted a concern about running out of a beverage in the dining hall, which was beyond the purview of the BDGS.
BDGS reports in 2020 fell into the categories of sex and/or gender-based equity concerns, bias based on nationality, religion, race and sex in combination, and age, race, and ethnicity in combination. All identifiable reports to the BDGS in 2020 were submitted by students, and identified biased behavior on the part of students, faculty, and staff members.

While the purpose of the Bias Data Gathering System is to collect information about the incidence and nature of bias on campus, each actionable report was responded to. The response included referral to existing processes where appropriate (Title IX resolution process, as one example), informational interviews to better understand the complaint, and follow-up with individuals who had been reported where warranted. Follow up with individuals entailed information gathering and discussing the reported concerns.

An important part of the follow up with reporters was understanding their wishes. Some wanted only to “go on the record” with the concern in case others had similar experiences while others wanted to raise concerns to inform subsequent educational and training opportunities. The BDGS was better utilized in 2020 than in previous years, suggesting that more ubiquitous information has been helpful. The increased visibility of the BDGS link on several campus webpages, and more frequent references to it in other contexts may have increased its use. The range of issues reported suggests that bias in a variety of forms is present on campus.

The Bias Data Gathering System reports, including subsequent follow-up with reporters and others, informs the ongoing work of the Offices of Human Resources, the Provost, and Student Development. This work includes responses to specific reports as well as broader planning for educational, professional development, and policy initiatives.

The Kalamazoo College community is committed to eradicating bias as part of our mission to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to an increasingly complex world. The BDGS is an important tool in this effort.

Renee Boelcke, Director of Human Resources
Danette Ifert Johnson, Provost
Sarah B. Westfall, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Contact Renee at renee.boelcke@kzoo.edu to receive a printed copy of this report.