Bias Incident Prevention and Response Protocol

Context and Guiding Principles

ACPA is an organization that holds diversity, multicultural competence, and human dignity among its core values (ACPA, 2013). With consistency, the association aspires to apply these values in its work to promote scholarly inquiry into issues of equity, diversity, and access in higher education. Moreover, the association translates this research and scholarship into clearly articulated professional competencies to assist practitioners develop as critically conscious educators for social justice and inclusion. This competency area is “designed to create learning environments that foster equitable participation of all groups while seeking to address and acknowledge issues of oppression, privilege, and power”” (Eanesi et al., 2015, p. 14).

When acts of bias or intolerance occur within our association, we are called as a collective and as individual members to uphold our shared values and principles to denounce and learn from these events. As stated in ACPA’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards (2013) members are called on to “abstain from all forms of harassment, including but not limited to verbal and written communication, physical actions and electronic transmissions” (2.3, p. 3) and we must “develop multicultural knowledge, skills, competence, and use appropriate elements of these capacities in [our] work…” (2.12, p. 3). In delineating our responsibility to society, members should “…act as advocates for social justice for members of communities…” in which they live and work, recognizing that they are enhanced by the cultural diversity of its members. We must “work to protect human rights and promote respect for human diversity in higher education” (ACPA, 2013, p. 6). In so doing, we aim not to silence any viewpoint or punish those who may have unintentionally harmed others. Rather, we seek to promote an organizational culture in which all the diverse voices of our members have equitable opportunities to be heard and valued, and, in that spirit, learn from one another.

In our history as an association, we have experienced the complications and long-term negative consequences of an ad hoc or perceived lack of response to incidents of bias that adversely affected members of our community. For members to feel a part of and experience the association’s value for social justice, ACPA seeks to cultivate an environment in which acts of bias are identified and addressed in an intentional, coordinated, and transparent manner, with opportunities for full participation of all constituents.

This protocol (hyperlink) is intended to address incidents that happen within the association on a larger, more public scale, as well as those that could occur among a few people. Creating opportunities and protocol for bias to be addressed can help tend to the impact of microaggressions, those seemingly smaller acts of bias, that accumulate over time and can create a chilling or hostile effect for members (Sue et al., 2007) [see “Recommendations on Equity and Inclusion in Professional Development and Scholarship Activities” document].

This Bias Incidents Prevention and Response Policy and Protocol is grounded in the following beliefs:

  • Systems of oppression are pervasive. Even those of us who are committed to social justice education are impacted by and implicated within these systems and may therefore engage in behavior that could have an unintended, negative impact on others. The existence of oppressive systems is not our fault, but it is our responsibility to dismantle them (Washington, 2007).
  • Good intentions cannot overshadow negative impact; intention and impact must both be acknowledged for the association to grow stronger in its commitment to social justice and respond meaningfully to harm done.
  • Each response to a bias-related incident should be crafted collaboratively based upon the specific details of the incident in question (Washington, 2007).
  • Responses should not be limited to addressing immediate impact but should also promote reflection upon the root causes of the incident; adjustment of association policies and practices to avoid recurrence; and education for the full membership regarding the association’s response.

ACPA values equity and inclusion. Should you experience a situation where we might improve, please reach out to any ACPA staff member or Dr. Jonathan A. McElderry, the Director of Equity & Inclusion on the Governing Board.

ACPA is committed to offering experiences that are inclusive to all our members and attendees. If you have feedback, comments, or ideas that will assist us in an experience more inclusive, please contact Tricia Fechter Gates, Deputy Executive Director.

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