Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Responding to Incidents of Bias

Understanding Bias

Bias may stem from fear, misunderstanding, hatred, stereotypes or lack of exposure to other communities. It may be intentional or unintentional.

A bias-related incident occurs when language or behavior conveys prejudice against individuals because of a dimension of their identity, including but not limited to their race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, status as a victim of domestic violence, alienage or citizenship status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, unemployment status or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

If you are a Columbia College or Columbia Engineering undergraduate student who has experienced or witnessed an act of bias, this guidance will instruct you on how to report the incident so that the University can provide support to our students, as well as information and, potentially, educational opportunities for the campus at-large with the goal of preventing future incidents of bias. Students from other schools at Columbia should contact their dean of students or office of Student Affairs.   

This guidance does not address the disciplinary aspect of bias-related incidents, nor is it the University’s intention that students rely solely on this guidance to address behavior that is discriminatory, harassing or that could potentially qualify as gender-based misconduct or a hate crime

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering Bias Response Team

The Columbia University community is committed to fostering an inclusive living and learning environment founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. It is crucial that we all support those who have been directly harmed through bias-related incidents and provide opportunities for our community to learn and grow, both proactively and responsively.

The bias response team, created in 2007 with the input of students and University partners, consists of professional staff members who lead the Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate community in addressing bias-related concerns, ensuring that community members receive necessary support, identifying patterns of bias and providing best practices to promote our growth as an inclusive community.  

As noted above, the bias response team is not a disciplinary entity. Rather, it centers around support and education grounded in restorative justice.

Team Members

  • Melinda Aquino, Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs, leads and coordinates the team
  • Tara Hanna, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Student Life/Executive Director of Residential Life
  • Cristen Kromm, Dean of Undergraduate Student Life
  • Matthew Patashnick, Associate Dean of Student and Family Support

Depending on the scope and impact on the campus community, the bias response team may involve other University partners, including faculty, staff and relevant administrative and/or disciplinary or investigative units.

How to Report a Bias Incident

While this guidance covers all forms of bias, the intention behind creating the bias response team and this guidance is to ensure that members of the Columbia community have an additional avenue for raising awareness of behavior that is hurtful and negatively impacts the learning environment and campus life. This process is not intended to replace reporting options available to you through the Department of Public Safety (report a crime here), the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (report an issue here), or the office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (report an issue here) or other similar offices at other schools or programs at Columbia. 

If you are a Columbia College or Columbia Engineering undergraduate who has experienced or witnessed an act of bias, it is important that you let us know. There are several ways to contact us:

  • Online: Access the Bias Response Team
     
  • Phone: 212-854-0720 (Multicultural Affairs | Undergraduate Student Life)
    Business hours are Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Outside of business hours, leave a message and a staff member will get back to you by the next business day.
     
  • In Person: Visit 505 Lerner Hall during regular business hours, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

    To arrange in-person support after hours, contact your RA on-duty (see directory) Monday–Thursday, 9:00 p.m.–8:00 a.m., and Friday at 9:00 p.m. through Monday at 8:00 a.m., or call Public Safety at 212-854-5555.
     
  • Email: biasresponseteam@columbia.edu
    A member of the bias response team will reach out to you by the next business day.

For incidents that may potentially amount to hate crimes, you should immediately contact the Department of Public Safety at 212-854-5555 and/or the local authorities by dialing 911. 

When a Report Is Filed

After the bias response team receives a report, the associate dean of Multicultural Affairs will review it within two business days, ensure that support and resources are offered to those directly affected and determine next steps.

In responding to bias incidents, the associate dean of Multicultural Affairs will convene the bias response team to:

  • Provide and coordinate support, outreach and education following bias incidents that involve Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate students. Some examples of these include one-on-one meetings, restorative dialogues, victim-offender mediations (upon both parties’ consent), healing spaces and campus education through workshops or campaigns;
     
  • Refer those impacted to appropriate resources, such as student advising, the Department of Public Safety, or Counseling and Psychological Services; and
     
  • Identify and implement short- and long-term diversity education strategies for our community.

When incidents are reported anonymously or by a bystander, the bias response team will try to identify those directly affected so they can offer support.

Please note that if you choose to file a report anonymously, this may limit our access to information and hinder our ability to fully address the concern. If you feel uncomfortable providing your name and contact information, we still encourage you to submit a report; any information shared with the bias response team will be useful in identifying and addressing experiences and patterns of bias in our community.

Submit a report: Columbia College and Columbia Engineering Bias Report Form

Undergraduate Student Life

Visit

505-515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-3612

Fax: 212-854-9801

Office Hours
MondayFriday
9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.