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Public university, private bias reporting data

Miami University has declined to make the bias reporting system data available to the public. Associated Student Government (ASG) hopes to change that.

ASG passed legislation on Tuesday, Nov. 19, to show student support for publicizing the data from the bias reporting system.  

Senators advocated for this legislation due to the number of discrimination and bias-based incidents in recent years, specifically based off anti-Semetic incidents from last year

The legislation acknowledges the university cannot punish those responsible for most of these issues because of students’ First Amendment right to free speech, but the authors of the legislation wrote that publicizing the data would give the university a way to “publicly and neutrally speak to problem areas on campus.”

“I think this is really important because it gives us the ability to gauge what’s happening on campus, and I think this is just the first step in a long process of really looking and reflecting upon some of the bigger institutional or cultural issues at Miami,” said Brandon Small, ASG’s secretary for diversity and inclusion. 

Under ASG’s proposed new system, the actual reports would not be public, but it would list incidents under certain categories such as racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. 

The administrative staff in charge of the bias reporting system has concerns regarding the effect of publicizing the data, however.

“If every incident of bias was reported, what does that accomplish?” asked Ronald Scott, vice president for institutional diversity. “These are incidents that are unfortunate that should not occur based on a certain level of insensitivity, but there’s no policy violation. So, to report every act … does not make a whole lot of sense.”

Scott said it would be a problem when multiple students submit bias reports on one instance, thereby artificially inflating the number of incidents on campus. 

Small still has faith that information from bias reports can be used to make positive changes on Miami’s campus.

“The main thing I was concerned with was transparency,” Small said. “Specifically, how we as student leaders were able to take the information that comes from the bias reporting system in a way that’s both legal and able to be utilized in the initiatives that we are doing.”

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