On Mar. 24, an email was sent out to the Concordia community regarding antisemitic symbols and phrases found on campus, signed by the Bias Incident Response Team, which also asked for those with further information to submit a report form.
These symbols and phrases were found written in the snow on cars in the Bogstad and East Complex parking lots. While the incident did not attack the owners of the cars specifically, it did “stand against Concordia’s values and commitments to diversity and inclusion,” the email stated.
Edward Antonio, Chief Diversity Officer and chair of BIRT, said, “Anything that involves discrimination or demeaning other groups on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, race, or any identity-based characteristics really goes against college commitments. The college believes and affirms the dignity of every human person.”
Following a reported incident such as this, BIRT gathers information through pictures and video surveillance before referring it to a different department that can become more directly involved with the students, faculty, staff or community members who instigated the incident. BIRT does not have investigative or sanctioning powers, so the process following the gathering of information is handed off most commonly to Student Conduct and Academic Affairs, which see the process to its end.
Bias incidents, according to the Bias Incident and Response Policy, “include activity that intimidates, demeans, mocks, degrades, stereotypes, marginalizes, or threatens individuals or groups based on that individual’s or group’s actual or perceived age, ancestry, ethnicity, national origin, ability, sex, gender identity or expression, citizenship or immigration status, marital status, socio-economic class, race, religion, religious practice, sexual identity or veteran status.”
Bill MacDonald, Director of Public Safety, adds that even though there is no physical damage done to campus or personal property, or the act is not targeting a person individually, does not mean that it could not become a case of harassment or lead to further consequences.
“I would emphasize the importance of being good citizens of our campus community. It’s important for us to live together in community and to see differences not as a liability, but as an opportunity to learn from one another,” Antonio said.
This summer, Public Safety will be working with Facilities Management, ResLife and SGA to create a safer campus environment. “We’re taking measures with adding equipment, adding cameras, adding lighting, adding signage, along with some other measures as well,” MacDonald said.
“BIRT is not just for students, not just for faculty, not just for staff – it’s for everyone. We are committed to making whatever improvements we need to make when we have opportunities to do that,” Antonio said.
Students are strongly encouraged to report bias incidents through a form on the BIRT website or by contacting the appropriate office found on the same page. In some incidents, security alerts or timely warnings, including pictures of the person who committed the act, will be sent out to ask the public for more information. For the recent antisemitic findings, the perpetrator has not yet been found.
“We ask for people to come forward if they have information on who’s doing this, so we can try to generate some leads, even if it’s not a crime. This is certainly something that the college doesn’t condone,” said MacDonald.
If you see an incident occurring, take pictures if possible and submit a report to BIRT immediately. Public Safety reminds students to not confront someone in the act of a bias or security incident.