Bias Incident Policy

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Starr King School for the Ministry’s mission is defined by our ECO commitment: Educating to Counter Oppressions and Build Just and Sustainable Communities. According to our ECO statement, we:

seek to embody just and loving human community, in which people are free to be fully themselves, in which people engage one another in respectful, welcoming ways, and in which no one is rejected, silenced, or exploited because of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, class, or physical character.

Therefore, Starr King aims to cultivate safe and welcoming environments – on campus, online, and anywhere else we meet one another – in which all may thrive and co-create beloved community.

What is a Bias Incident?

A bias incident is a behavior or action that is motivated in part or in whole by bias or prejudice and which targets an individual or group based on one or more held identities. Bias incidents may include the following behaviors, among others:

  • Identity-based slurs (e.g., racial epithets, sexist comments)
  • Display of hate symbols
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Microaggressions
  • Expression of stereotypes
  • Offensive terminology
  • Bullying

Bias is a natural human trait that must be named and engaged on the path of countering oppression. No person is free of biases, which are often unconscious or not perceived as disrespectful. The purpose of reporting bias incidents is not primarily punitive, but restorative. Addressing such incidents enhances our capacities for self-awareness, mutual understanding, reconciliation and collaboration, thereby enabling us to fulfill our callings as religious and social-change leaders more skillfully and compassionately.

Reporting a Bias Incident

Any involved party who experiences or witnesses a bias incident may complete the Bias Incident Report Form. This form is for all faculty, staff, and students of Starr King, as well as any other participants in activities led by the school.

The form can be filed for incidents that the involved party considers resolved as well as those for which the school should take action. In the case of the former, the report provides school leadership with helpful information for improving the SKSM community climate.

Whenever it is safe to do so, rather than dangerous or traumatizing, recipients or bystanders of a bias incident are encouraged to confront the problem through direct address with the alleged perpetrator.

Please make the report as complete and accurate as possible and provide supporting documentation or other evidence. Evidence may be preserved and presented in various forms, including, e.g., photographs, videos, screenshots, original documents, etc.

All information contained within your report will become a part of SKSM’s administrative records. Starr King will maintain privacy and confidentiality as much as possible, sharing information only with those who have a legitimate or legal need of access. When material is shared with persons outside of SKSM administration and the Bias Incident Response Team, it will be redacted as needed to maintain the privacy of educational records in adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The school will make every effort to protect against conflicts of interest as well as acts of retaliation.

Responding to a Bias Incident

Starr King will evaluate and address each report in a prompt, fair, and thorough manner. Once submitted, the report will be routed to the members of our Bias Incident Response Team. Any member of the Team found to be involved in a bias incident will be automatically recused. The Team will review reports and documentation, coordinate support services, recommend reparative or disciplinary actions, make necessary referrals, and confer with leadership about any public communications. Reporters will be directly notified of the final outcome(s), barring any material that is protected by the FERPA or other legal or ethical obligations to maintain confidentiality.

The advisory body known as Team ECO, made up of staff, faculty, and student members, also currently serves as the Bias Incident Response Team.