Harassment, racism on campus

  For many, UVM is viewed as an accepting and welcoming place, yet the administration has heard of at least two instances where this is not the case. In an email sent out on Oct. 28, President Bramley and Chief Diversity Officer Wanda Heading-Grant expressed their concerns about the bias occurrences at the University. “We hold a genuine sense of pride in our learning community, which aspires to be a just place,” the email stated.  “Which, in the words of Our Common Ground, rejects ‘bigotry, oppression, degradation, and harassment’ and challenges injustice toward any member of our community.” A bias incident includes those actions that are motivated by bias, but do not meet the necessary elements required to prove a crime, according to the Bias Incidents Protocol for UVM. Heading-Grant said that Bramley was notified of the two incidents via email. “[Bramley] had gotten an email in regard to a person in uniform being spat at,” Heading-Grant said.  “There was also an incident in the Davis Center where [someone not from UVM] was making inappropriate gestures to persons of color.” The email was sent to raise awareness about bias incidents on campus, she said. “We wanted the University to know that we were thinking about it,” Heading-Grant said.  “We felt it was important to get this email out before other things started occurring, and we wanted to make it clear that the president and the University care.” Heading-Grant said that the necessary measures were taken in regard to these events. Chris Lucier, vice president for Enrollment Management, spoke at the most recent faculty senate meeting about bias instances.             “Some students are having a great time,” Lucier said in a speech. “[And they] are very appreciative of their interactions with faculty and staff, but there have been some students that have addressed being marginalized in their classroom by faculty.”             For some students, the two events that happened in October were the first instances that they had heard of concerning bias.               “I don’t think that racial bias is a problem here, but maybe if people weren’t so ethnocentric and had a zero tolerance policy about these incidents then they wouldn’t happen,” senior Carlyn Levy said.              Levy isn’t the only student who feels that bias is not a problem at UVM.             “I haven’t noticed anything or heard anything,” first-year Chris Young said.  “If there was a problem, I’m not sure how something like that would be handled.”             Though some students said that bias was not a problem, others felt that the events in October were common.             “I’ve heard that UVM is accepting,” first-year Kristen Wade said.  “But I have also heard of people having problems and having to move out of dorms due to bias.  I think one way to combat instances like this is to keep sending out newsletters.”