Racial Bias Incident Reported at WC

By The Elm - Feb 25,2016@12:27 pm

By Meaghan Menzel
Copy Editor
On Feb. 18, Washington College President Sheila Bair sent out an email at 7:29 a.m., informing WC of an incident of racial harassment in one of the dormitories on campus: “On Monday, Feb. 8, Public Safety was asked to investigate a bias incident on our campus. A campus visitor, staying with a friend, reported being the subject of derogatory racial remarks from several individuals as he passed an open dorm room early Sunday morning.”
Director of Public Safety Jerry Roderick said, “The visitor emailed an administrator at the College after he left campus to advise [them] about the incident. The information was then forwarded to Public Safety for investigation.”
Roderick said, “The details regarding what information has been collected so far is not anything we can discuss openly,” but Public Safety is still doing whatever they can to investigate the incident. “Public Safety has conducted a series of interviews to gather additional information. We also sent out an email to all students, encouraging the use of the LiveSafe [app] and the anonymous tip line if they would like to confidentially provide information. Students are also encouraged to contact our office directly. This is very much an active investigation.”
According to the WC website, “Harassment in any form, whether based on race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, marital status, citizenship status or military service is prohibited at WC.” The College additionally prohibits harassment based on “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions… or any other category protected by federal, state, or local law.”
President Bair said in her email, “I wish to emphasize in the strongest terms possible that there is no place at WC for biased and hateful behavior towards anyone. We are a campus that respects and supports all members of our community, including guests and loved ones. We are a compassionate and inclusive campus. We do not tolerate racial bias of any kind.”
The WC website defines harassment as “any behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for an individual that interferes with that individual’s comfort and productivity in his/her experience at WC.” Examples of this kind of behavior includes, “Offensive remarks, comments, jokes, slurs, or verbal conduct; offensive pictures, drawings, photographs, figurines, or other graphic images, conduct, or communications, including email, faxes, and copies,” or “Offensive physical conduct including touching and gestures, regardless of the gender of the individuals involved.”
Anyone who feels they have been a victim of harassment or discrimination can contact Title IX Coordinator Sarah Feyerherm, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator Andrea Vassar, Public Safety, the Human Resources Department, and even staff in Student Affairs such as Residential Assistants.
Remedial actions, according to the WC website, include “College Warnings (Except in cases of Sexual Assault/Violence), Suspension/Expulsion, Probation, Termination of Employment, Protection from Retaliation, Counseling for the Complainant, [and] Other steps to address the impact of harassment or discrimination on the complainant, any witnesses and the College community.”
“We take these allegations very serious and will fully investigate any complaint received,” Roderick said. “We do… encourage our community to inform us of any behavior that could be viewed as biased-based behavior. WC is a community that is open and accepting of all groups. The Department of Public Safety stands with every member of this community to ensure we create a climate of acceptance, support, and accountability.”
If anyone has information about the incident of racial bias, please contact Public Safety at 410-778-7810, send an anonymous tip at http://www.washcoll.edu/offices/public-safety/anonymoustips.php, or use the LiveSafe mobile app. For more information, one can look up the Harassment Policy on the WC website.

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