Harvard Unveils New Bias Reporting System

In response to racially charged death threat emails received by more than 100 Harvard affiliates last year —which largely targeted women of Asian decent — Harvard College’s Office of Student Life recently introduced a revamped system for reporting incidents of bias on campus.

According to Emelyn A. dela Peña, assistant dean of student life for equity, diversity, and inclusion, the updated system features multiple reporting avenues and the option to submit anonymously.

While the previous system was designed to allow students, faculty, and staff the ability to report bias in the context of one-on-one interactions, the new system makes it possible for administrators to connect multiple reports that refer to the same incident — like the email death threats — dela Peña told The Harvard Crimson. Complaints can be submitted via email to reportbias@fas.harvard.edu or anonymously by filling out an online form. This way of reporting allows administrators to track data and look for trends among reports.

However, dela Peña said the college is still encouraging students to speak with their tutors, proctors, and deans about incidents of bias they experience.

In addition to these new channels for reporting bias, the college is also assembling a “bias assessment response group,” which will be comprised of faculty, staff, and students, to discuss community interventions.

Administrators have also created an email address where inquiries related to “community and inclusion on campus” can be sent: diversity@fas.harvard.edu. And launching this fall is the college’s new Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which will focus on first-generation, undocumented, and foster home students.

According to dela Peña, efforts to evaluate and update the bias reporting system involved researching and visiting peer institutions.