Bias Complaint Process

Understanding the Bias Incident Reporting Process and the Role of the UW Bothell Office of Diversity & Equity

If you feel you’ve experienced an incident of bias on campus (including housing) or in a class, please go to the CARE reporting site and make your report. An incident of bias is typically something that you think has happened because of some aspect of your identity (gender, sexuality, race, immigrant status, language spoken, veteran status, disability, etc.). Be sure to select the box for “bias” in the menu for your report.

Bias reports may be submitted by the person who experiences the bias, or they may be submitted by someone who witnessed a bias incident, or a person who experiences a bias incident may ask a trusted advocate to file a report on their behalf. If a bias report is submitted on behalf of someone without consent of the alleged victim, then the case will move forward only if the alleged victim consents or if the bias incident is egregious enough to warrant university or legal action (e.g., a clear hate crime).

All CARE reports are accessible by the UWB CARE Team. However, the boxes you check when you file your report determine who on the team is notified. When you select the box for “bias,” the AVC for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (hereafter, AVC for DEI) and the Director of the Student Diversity Center are automatically notified. Typically, the AVC for DEI takes the lead on processing bias reports and moving to next steps.

The UWB CARE team is committed to responding to CARE reports within one business day. If you file a bias incident report you should expect a communication about it within that time or shortly thereafter.

Bias incident reports involving faculty typically engage the AVC for DEI, the UWB Office of Organizational Excellence and Human Resources (OEHR), and the Dean of the faculty’s academic unit. Bias incident reports involving faculty are required to adhere to the guidelines outlined by the UW Faculty Code.

Bias incident reports involving staff typically engage the AVC for DEI, OEHR, and the staff member’s supervisor. Bias incident reports involving a member of a union are required to follow the rules and guidelines contained in the bargained union contract.

Bias incident reports involving students typically engage the AVC for DEI and the UWB’s Student Conduct office. Bias incident reports involving students are guided by the expectations expressed in the Student Code of Conduct. Please note that bias incident reports involving students that take place in the context of an academic course may not involve Student Conduct and may instead involve the AVC for DEI and the faculty member, especially if the incident is directly related to course content.

Complaints of Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct

Title IX, Title VII, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Washington State law, and University of Washington policy collectively prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, pregnant or parenting status, and LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identity.

The Office of Diversity & Equity does not handle reports of sexual harassment/sexual misconduct, but we can connect you with resources.

If you feel you have experienced an incident of sexual harassment/sexual misconduct, please file a bias report, but also please follow the link below to make a report and to access support resources.  https://www.washington.edu/titleix/report/.

UW Bothell also has it’s own Violence Prevention & Advocacy Program to support those who have experienced sexual or relationship violence or abuse, and they offer their own two-page toolkit for identifying victims and providing support.

Confidentiality and Anonymity in Bias Reporting

When you submit a bias report the AVC for DEI (and the CARE Team) will hold any information regarding alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, and any details of any bias report with as much confidentially as possible. Sometimes a bias complaint cannot be resolved or attended to without divulging important details of the reported incident or the identity of victims. However, this information will never be divulged without permission from the victim.

It is also important to understand that any bias incident that involves either a faculty or staff member is considered a confidential employment matter.  For this reason, the person that submitted the bias complaint will not know the details of the resolution, however, they will learn that the complaint has been resolved following UW policies.

Do be aware that the CARE reporting system, including bias reporting, is subject to public records requests. Therefore, while students do have increased protections under by FERPA, no bias report is ever entirely confidential or anonymous.

Despite this limitation, we still encourage those who have experienced a bias incident to file a report. Students, staff, and faculty remain protected by strict rules and policies against discrimination or retaliation at UW. Students are required to act in ways consistent with the Conduct Code or potentially face disciplinary measures. Faculty face consequences for retaliation as outlined in the Faculty Code, and faculty and staff are subject to UW’s rules and policies against discrimination or retaliation. These structures have been put into place to protect you.

The Role of the Office of Diversity & Equity in Bias Incident Reporting

It is important to understand that the Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC for Diversity, Equity play a very specific and limited role in the bias incident reporting and follow up process. This is for the following reasons:

  • The AVC for DEI and the Office of Diversity & Equity have no direct, institutional authority over UWB students, staff, or faculty. The AVC for DEI reports directly to the UWB Chancellor, whereas students, staff, and faculty are governed by rules, regulations, or lines of authority entirely outside the Office of Diversity & Equity. Students work though Student Affairs, staff work through OEHR and their supervisors in academic or non-academic units, and faculty work through their academic units, Academic Affairs, and faculty governance.
  • With limited authority over UWB students, staff, or faculty, both the Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI cannot officially “investigate” bias incident reports. Further, the Office of Diversity & Equity lacks the staff capacity to investigate bias incident reports.
  • Similarly, because of the above, the Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI have no authority to “discipline” anyone for any action.

However, despite limited authority, the UWB Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI do play important roles in the bias reporting process.

  • First and foremost, we serve in an advisory and facilitatory role. This means that at every step of the way, the Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI are there to make sure issues of diversity and equity are taken seriously and that such issues are handled in purposeful and informed ways.
  • Second, the Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI are committed to supporting students, staff, and faculty in response to a bias report and through any potential resolution of the incident. We will hear you, point you towards any resources that might be helpful, and generally work to honor your experience at UWB.
  • Third, the UWB Office of Diversity & Equity and the AVC of DEI use the data generated by bias reports to identify problem areas across campus, which in turn helps set our agenda for trainings and capacity building among students, staff, and faculty. Additionally, bias reports help us identify policies that might need to be fixed or added in order to improve campus climate.

Additional Resources and Avenues for Reporting

In addition to filing a bias incident report, there are some other resources available to anyone with concerns about discrimination or mistreatment. If you are dealing with sexual and relationship violence, we invite you to connect with the UWB Violence Prevention and Advocacy program. The UW Office of the Ombud is also a good resource for resolving conflict at the university. Additionally, the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO) to investigate complaints that a university employee has violated the University’s non-discrimination or non-retaliation policies.