Valpo Residential Life (Res Life) has developed an anti-bias task force as a response to the racist incidents that occured in Wehrenberg Hall in late Oct., where a KKK carving was found in the building. This task force has taken on the main responsibility to support and educate students that live in residential halls about bias and inclusion.
“The task force is a working group for [the residential life] department and from there, they’re bringing the ideas to the table so that we can then pick what’s going to be best for our community,” said Katie Bye, Interim Director of Residential Life.
Res Life oversees Brandt, Lankenau, Alumni, Guild and Memorial, Wehrenberg, Beacon and Promenade dorm buildings on campus and has a partnering role with those that manage the Sorority Complex. The task force consists of three residential learning coordinators (RLCs) and two resident assistants (RAs).
“Each person brings in a variety of different elements and activities that they’re a part of. I think that they’re bringing in many different perspectives of each person,” Bye said.
The task force has put constructing a reply to the bias actions in Wehrenberg, as their main priority as they worked with the Bias Incident Response Team (B.I.R.T). A guide for the type of wording to be used when discussing the incidents has been the leading result of their meetings.
“Our first couple meetings were focused on creating a response directly related to the bias incidents that occurred in Wehrenberg. The bias incident response task force created some template language for all RLCs to use to craft for their hall so that the RAs and RLC could respond to what had happened via email,” said Colyn, who serves as the RLC for Wehrenberg Hall and on the B.I.R.T.
Any incident of bias is immediately reported to VUPD, who then open a case and begin to investigate. Similarly, vandalism that occurs is cleaned while res life staff creates a report. Although the anti-bias task force doesn’t alter this process, they do provide responses to the actions of hate.
The language template for addressing the incidents has been the main accomplishment of the task force this semester. They’ve been making plans for more programs to inform students about bias that should be available to residents in the near future.
“We’ve had multiple meetings and we’re working on different projects. Our hope is that we’ll be able to roll out those things at the beginning of next semester,” Colyn said.
An underlying message of community has been the driving force for the group for the remainder of the academic year.
“Right now, [the anti-bias task force] is utilizing a theme. The theme is, hate is not a Valpo value, hate has no home here. That’s where we’re springing off of. If you see things branded [with that theme] those will be part of the efforts and the response from the task force and the [residential life] department,” Bye said.
There is a zero tolerance policy for actions or incidents of hate on the Valpo campus. Students who are passionate and interested in sharing ideas and opinions can reach out to the anti-bias task force via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk to their RLC.