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UW-La Crosse Hate Bias Forum

Amanda Goodenough, assistant director of campus climate at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, speaks during a hate/bias forum in March on campus. More than 190 reports were made to the university's bias/hate reporting system during the 2015-16 school year, a system which has come under fire from free speech advocates.

As campuses do more to combat discrimination, students and watchdogs are pushing back with free speech concerns.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has had a bias/hate reporting system and response team since 2005, Assistant Director of Campus Climate Amanda Goodenough said, and the university received 192 reports through the system during the 2015-2016 school year. The system allows students to anonymously report incidents of hate and bias on campus, which Goodenough said include any act motivated in whole or part by bias toward a protected group of people.

Not of all these acts rise to the level of student misconduct or a crime, she said, but they provide a snapshot of the culture on campus. The response team doesn't handle any incidents that do rise to the level of a conduct violation, she said, referring those to other campus departments, and she said a lot of the work of the team is reaching out to students who report an incident and providing support.

People can experience the same situation on campus differently, response team member and Affirmative Action Director and Title IX Coordinator Nizam Arain said, and can feel unsafe or threatened by behavior another person wouldn't find objectionable. The reporting system lets the university hear those marginalized voices and work on ways to address those issues.

"We want to help people to understand the importance of words and actions," Goodenough said, "to create a safe opportunity for people to have these conversations."

Whitney Storvick, the vice president for the Women's Studies Student Association and a senior from Waseca, Minn., said she has used the bias/hate reporting system a number of times while she has been a student at UW-L. Having the team helps combat hate and bias, pushes back against offensive actions being normalized in the community and provides a safe space for students to validate their reactions, she said.

"The system gives you the option to talk to someone who understands," she said, "someone to comfort you and assure that it's real. That's huge."

Western Technical College also has a bias/hate reporting form on the school's website and officials said the college received one complaint of graffiti last year. At Viterbo, harassment and bias-related incident are violations of the university's code of conduct and all incidents are investigated by university officials.

Bias incidents reported last year at UW-L run the gamut from graffiti and vandalism to spoken words and actions targeted at students. For instance, a number of students reported a video created by the university's Information Technology Services department that featured a white administrator dressed in a sombrero and imitating a Mexican accent. Other reports documented physical damage of a display of another country's flag on campus and incidents in which minority students were yelled at using racial slurs and epithets.

A number of incidents were reported by residence hall staff who documented offensive postings and graffiti found during rounds and who frequently encounter drawn penises, slurs and foul language posted on notes and whiteboards or in other common areas. Other incidents have resulted in university action, such as the drawing of a lynching with the words #blacklivesdon'tmatter, which resulted in a teach-in at UW-L last spring; sightings of a truck with the Confederate flag that resulted in a forum on racism last winter; and a "trap bed" left in the hallway of one of the residences halls that warned students to remember to wear a condom, which was highlighted at a forum on hate and bias last spring.

Other incidents target individuals or organizations that offended the reporter. One posting called out a professor by name for laughing inappropriately during a faculty senate meeting and a number of students reported their professors for how they taught controversial academic subjects such as sexual assault or Southern culture.

One student reported feeling unsafe after encountering a Campus Crusade for Christ poster on campus, saying the cross represents "oppression and hate of the LGBT+ community." The student reported feeling unsafe on campus while homophobic groups are allowed. Two students reported one of their peers for an off-campus blog post that was shared on Facebook and Tumblr about life as a white student, with one of the reporters saying the blog was offensive to students of color and they they did not feel safe living on campus since the author lived close by.

While many of the incidents reported were anonymous or resulted in contact only with the students making the reports, the hate and response team did reach out to the administrators in the ITS video and have contacted Facebook administrators to remove social media posts reported to the system. The team has also worked with residence life staff to speak with students about some postings in the residence halls and reached out to department leadership in some of the incidents in which faculty were reported for their teaching.

Campus Climate also responded to the chalkings that appeared on UW-L sidewalks last spring with messages that supported Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump such as "Trump 2016 and "build the wall." A number of students reported the chalkings to the bias/hate response team, which responded on Facebook with this message:

"While we respect peoples’ right to express opinions, we also recognize that some communities on campus experience these messages as discriminatory or hostile. All manifestations of prejudice and intolerance are contradictory to our mission as a university."

That post was soon taken down from the office's official Facebook page. Goodenough and Arain said that the bias response team respects students and faculty members' First Amendment rights and have stated such on the reporting system's website.

That hasn't been good enough for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit organization that promotes First Amendment rights at colleges and universities. The organization lists the hate/bias system among UW-L's policies that receive a yellow-light rating for their potential to be used to punish protected speech.

The organization also chose the hate/bias system as its Speech Code of the Month for February of this year. Lawmakers and free speech advocates have been pushing back against these kinds of teams recently, such as the team at the University of Norther Colorado, which was recently disbanded after reports the team asked a professor to forgo discussing controversial subjects in class.

Samantha Harris, director of policy research at FIRE, said bias/hate systems like UW-L's are problematic for a number of reasons. They label bias/hate very broadly, which can include constitutionally protected expression. She said teams such as UW-L's that say they avoid taking action on reported incidents create a "process-as-punishment" system in which students, faculty and staff censor themselves in order to avoid being reported.

"It sends a message to students that they aren't adults who can work out problems themselves," she said.

Criticisms of "political correctness" on campus have been raised by Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Legislature. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called it a plague that stifles free speech and critical thinking in a report by the Capitol Times, and his sentiments were echoed by colleague Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater.

“If only the taxpayers and tuition-paying families had a safe space that might protect them from wasteful UW System spending on political correctness,” Nass said in an August statement.

A number of reports made to the system have been satirical or critical of it, such as students reporting encounters with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporters on campus after the chalking incident. Others criticized university officials for their handling of the Confederate flag incident, saying it crushed free speech on campus.

Instead of stifling free speech, Goodenough said, the bias system fosters the expression of marginalized students. They're not being coddled, she said, but are some of the most resilient students she knows, facing both academic challenges and cultural adversities,

"Sometimes I think it is ironic ... the students using the system are exercising their free speech rights," she said. "If we replace the words PC with respect then respect is something everyone deserves."

During Friday's teach-in on rape culture at UW-L, several administrators and students spoke about changing UW-L policies in light of a recent incident in which an offensive banner was hung near campus. Some on campus have lamented the fact that the incident didn't rise to the level of a conduct violation and were upset UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow defended the free speech rights of the students. They called new policies that would result in punishment for similar speech in the future.

While he found the banner to be distasteful and gross, UW-L College Republicans president Ben Stelter said the students who were involved should never have to give up their free speech rights when attending a public university. This kind of attitude combined with systems such as the bias/hate response team makes it hard for students to speak up about issues or express their beliefs.

"It's a concerning time for free speech on campus," Stelter said. "People are not speaking their minds on both sides of issues."

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

(59) comments

Paulina

I think that certain restrictions should be put on the site where the students can not only order quality essay paper but also share their opinions. I believe that the real value of the study is in the discovery. Should definitely have the power of the word, but some boundaries should be established.. This is the time their life is determined, they shouldn’t waste it on some inappropriate website posting irrelevant stories and offensive images. Maybe later the students will understand what the freedom of the speech is really about and will not abuse it.

CJ

More details here.....
https://heatst.com/culture-wars/uw-lacrosse-student-very-upset-by-cis-power-mural-of-harry-potters-neville-longbottom/?mod=sm_tw_post

CJ

Nothing like making the national news over a Harry Potter mural.....
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/26/university-wisconsin-la-crosse-student-very-upset-over-dorms-harry-potter-mural.html

TopCommentor1

Please forgive the PC warriors. They give progressives a bad name.

TopCommentor1

Please forgive the PC warriors. They give progressives a bad name.

TopCommentor1

"Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech." -George Carlin

DMoney

This is a perfect quote. I don't see how any reasonable human being (Democrat or Republican) can disagree. The cure to prejudice is NOT to be prejudicial.

kentuckywoman2

I agree 100%.

TopCommentor1

George Orwell's 1984 coming to a reality.

Jorgy

So what it a 'protected group' ? Is that like an endangered species? It is crazy to be labeling people like that. Your protection is causing infringement on someone else's freedom of speech. If a white person uses the 'n' word it is words for fighting because I'm prejudice, yet I here a black person say it and it is acceptable because it is a way of slang for saying a greeting! Yes a greeting! Now there were 194ish complaints, so if was h complaint is from 1 person that equates to 194 people determining what 8000 other students can say with their freedom of speech. Maybe this generation should grow a pair, grow up and stop being so sensitive and given everything.

Cassandra

A "Protected Class" is a legal definition of characteristics of a person which cannot be targeted for discrimination. And the Courts have determined that "majority rule" does not make discrimination acceptable or legal. If you don't like it, maybe you should grow a pair and move to another country.

Jorgy

Well Cassandra I have a pair and I am most likely older then you and don't quite understand why you need to be protected. Obviously you are a minority, which means that there are not as many of you and therefore the rest of us non-minorities have to give you special rights that are not afforded to the rest of us that most likely have supported you, your parents and most likely grandparents. There has been no discrimination by me but the special npeople keep whining that they don't get enough. There are jobs out there but they don't pay good enough for you. I have had blood from all races on me and it is all red, so everyone is the same! SO stop this bs that you claim to need!

DMoney

You must be a vet or work in the medical field--either way--thanks for your service. That said, the comment about "must have supported you, your parents and grandparents" is not right. Can't judge someone, even someone as shallow-minded as Cassandra.

kentuckywoman2

Kinda hard to read your post, but I think I get your drift. Can't disagree.

awol2009

What an overly sensitive, paranoid generation our university system has spawned, along with our media propaganda. No wonder young adults are living in their parents basements and are afraid to be on their own after college. God help us when these wussy mamby-pamby millenials have to fend for themselves. Offended little butt-hurt babies - grow up. It's a big bad world out there, learn to cope and find your own inner strength to deal with it in sensible ways.

Cassandra

Or maybe they are living in their parents' basements because there are no jobs or only minimum wage jobs that make it impossible to afford rent. You're right about one thing though--it IS a big, bad world out there, run by people who want to grab all the wealth for themselves and scroo the younger generation and its needs.

DMoney

What happened to the concept of starting small, working hard, going above and beyond, and earning better wages/status? That's what built this country. You are saying it doesn't work. I myself have followed this model, I know many minorities who have also. You can't knock 250 years of huge progress.

The Observer

Does seem like some of the things perceived as 'biased' or 'offensive' are very minor picayune things.  Take the incident of the truck with the Confederate flag emblem on its radiator screen.  It was not a University vehicle, nor was it being operate by University personnel.  This was a construction vehicle owned and operated by a company that had been contracted to do work on campus, and getting all worked up about this is on a par with getting worked up over an obscene word on a bumper sticker or T-shirt.

Remember, other people have freedom of speech and expression too.  Freedom of speech means ALL speech, not just the speech that you personally happen to agree with.

LaCrosseLady

I did some research on racist comments by Hillary- they had to search back to the 1970's to get a list of 10 - many of which aren't true according to factcheck.org. Also many people said things then we wouldn't say now because most people have now have a better understanding that some statements hurt even if not intended. For racist comments from Trump - you don't have to go back to 1970's to get a list - sometimes you don't have to go back a week.

Thinkfirst25

I say we keep our posts to 1 comment per topic. One well thought out comment, perhaps a paragraph, that speaks about the article. Say your peace no move on. That way everyone reading doesn't have to be punished over and over by one persons view who wants to stand on a soap box or it doesn't turn into bickering back and forth. How about it Tribune? Make the comment section a one post per article so that people have one shot at making a well thought out point. The well thought out point may be asking a little bit much but I am a believer.

DMoney

It's called a conversation. One post allows no room for debate and dialogue. It's boring and goes nowhere.

Clarification

I just heard a quote from somebody on the radio: "The way you attack bad speech is with more speech, not less." Let's just say you think Trump is a self-centered blithering idiot who might lead us into WWIII. You don't stop him by banning Trump supporters from speaking; you bring in others to pick apart the lies.

Machiavelli

[crying][crying][crying]Depends. With the extreme right, with neo-Nazis and KKK bigots, it's about survival against a deadly enemy. Imagine 1930s Jews entering into a dialogue with Heinrich Himmler or 1960s blacks trying to reason with George Wallace. Charles Manson visits the Berkeley campus, Sharon Tate is in the audience, Charles Manson announces his intent to kill Sharon Tate,...

Donald "Bigot" Trump comes to campus, should blacks and Hispanics bend over and take it in the arse? We're beyond genteel discussions about the nature of free speech now. We are now moving into a real civil war.

Adam Czerniakow and His Diary

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/acdiary.html

screen name

Have you read all the racist statements hillary has made on the record? Do some research.

Frangel45

screen name - you neglected to read La Crosse Lady's info - which is quite accurate. Not sure where you got your info which seems pretty lame.

Cassandra

Facts just don't matter to you, do they "screen name"?

DMoney

If that's the case, keep in mind, Republicans have a deep appreciation and love of firearms. And we know how to use them. Just sayin..

Monteee

I would say it this way: "The way to defeat bad speech is with good speech and lots of it."

In a rational, productive society, good ideas prosper, and bad ideas perish. Unfortunately, our society is neither rational nor productive. We're too busy talking smack, competing with each other, and falling for the lies and manipulations of the media and political con-artists.

screen name

Yeh that's a good idea, let's limit the freedom of expression, debate, and speech.

Redwall

The ONLY positive thing I could ever consider saying about Hillary Clinton is that she is one tough cookie, certainly an admirable trait if applied to positive ends.

For the PC crowd, maybe you should be teaching the snowflakes to toughen up and face the world. The photo in the picture is a hoot "Stick and Stones..." projected on the screen. How insulting; simply speaking down to those you assume cannot think for themselves or those you wish to discourage from doing so.

Calmone

You know what? I don't care if you're offended. I. Don't. Care. See what happens when you leave your safe have school. Go whine to your boss when your coworker offends you. I'm sure they will protect you, precious snowflake .

Redwall

The article reads like a litany of "politically correct" abuses by the university acting as in incubator for stupidity.

Assistant Director of Campus Climate, a Director of Campus Climate must be hiding under his desk, Affirmative Action Director and Title IX Coordinator Nizam Arain, vice president for the Women's Studies Student Association, Hate and Bias Response Team, and there is more no doubt.

This sounds like a "how to" indoctrination camp to make young adults emotionally handicapped. Unfortunately for them, their Safe Spaces won't survive graduation. Assuming they have learned well they will be fit for nothing in the real world, instead working at universities emulating their mentors.

Buggs Raplin

For the liberal arts graduates in "Women and Gender Studies" a transition will be made from the safe space of UW-L to the safe space in their parents' basements.

Calmone

So true but how will they pay those darn college loans? The bills might upset the snowflakes, who will they turn to then?

awol2009

When will those of us who are white have to quit being apologetic for, well, being white??????

ahasp

A few years ago, I was in a group that Goodenough spoke to. Prior to the event, she solicited comments from us on what "white privilege" meant to us. What she didn't tell us is that she was going to cherry-pick snippets to put on the overhead to shame us. I wrote a couple of paragraphs on what the term "white privilege" meant to me. As a white guy who grew up poor and from an abusive, very broken home, the term seems divisive to me. White privilege exists. So does rich privilege. So does attractive privilege. So does male privilege. So does "my parents didn't get divorced" privilege. So does "my parents graduated from college" privilege. Etc,, etc., etc. The gist of my comments were that the university has a wide diversity of students, faculty, and staff. We should work to providing a respectful environment for everyone and we should lower barriers not create barriers for acceptance and success. She picked out half a sentence of mine (along with many other comments from other people) to demonstrate the bias in the audience. I lost any respect for her that I had for her on that day and automatically discount anything that she says.

CJ

Solid post, maybe she will read this article and get a clue you never know.

Redwall

Well done. Thanks for speaking up.

DMoney

I say make your disgusting signs. Wave your confederate flag. Witness the reaction. See how other people respond. See where it gets you. Change your ways, notice the difference. It's called learning. Challenge and adversity is the catalyst for growth--the purpose of higher education. Why would we attempt to erase that? The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows, those who are successful understand and embrace that fact.

Redwall

I thought the guys making the signs needed to have their butts kicked by their parents. However, if the choice is between these guys and the rampant stupidity of this collection of supposedly adult university administration misfits...lets just say the choice becomes more difficult.

DMoney

They can do stupid things, they are kids. That's how learning is done. We all make mistakes, and we learn and grow. I'm sure they will reflect back and take something beneficial of their stupidity. Lord knows, I have.

Condor Kid

It's always going to be difficult for us to find that difinitive place to draw a line in the sand that clearly separates free speech from inciting violence. It's up to our courts to decide and police to enforce. I'm for promoting total equality for all but creating bias/hate response teams may be going too far toward suppression of speech and even promote vigilantism.

DMoney

It's actually incredibly simple. Free speech is just that: Speech that is free. That means the ability to communicate in any way about any subject without restriction, censure, or punishment. Anything that impedes this is NOT free speech. Which is a direct violation of our constitutional rights. When these rights were created, the Authors must not have imagined we could become a society where being offended was the speakers fault and not the listener. Such a simple concept--if you don't want to see it/hear it, then don't look/listen. If everyone did that, none of this debate would be necessary.

lutefisk

people who feel worthless without an agenda.

Monteee

Perhaps UW-La Crosse should start giving pacifiers, teddy bears, and blankies to the growing population of CRYBABIES in their classrooms.

I'm glad I graduated from UW-L years ago, when such pathetic behavior wasn't happening.

Clarification

Only 192 complaints in a year, some legitimate, some whiners, some using the "offended" card as part of their agenda. I was expecting more "hot-house flower" students who can't deal with the real world to find lots of "triggers" on campus. I guess it still is a university, not a monoversity.

Machiavelli

[alien][alien][alien]One spring day, some real neo-Nazis, with their swastika armbands and shaven heads, showed up on campus where I was an undergrad. A big melee ensued off-campus as me and my cohorts harangued them for the next couple of hours. The cops showed up, my hand was busted during the fight and lots of folks were hauled off to jail. There's your future with Donald "Bigot" Trump and those who support him: WWII begins anew, with, as before, the fascists strutting around expecting no fightback.

Rare Battle For Berlin Footage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=592ZXOuG7yE

BigRedWingsFan

You forgot to preface your screed with "Once upon a time....."

Machiavelli

[pirate][pirate][pirate]Once upon a time, women and children were gassed at Auschwitz....

“Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA -- ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.”
― Heinrich Himmler

DMoney

Your tolerance truly sets a great example. If someone shows up with different opinions, just physically attack them, that's the ticket....

Machiavelli

[ninja][ninja][ninja]With Nazis, there is no transition from free speech into war, it's just war from the get-to. Get them before they get you, that's all.

“The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear. ”
― Heinrich Himmler

you think you know

And what does this subject have to do with Nazis?

Cassandra

Cue the racist/sexist hatefest in 3...2...1...

Hey19

Oh the irony... In a story about bias and hate, Cassandra calls out anyone who happens to disagree with her sanctimonious viewpoint as being racist or haters...

It must be a wonderful feeling to wake up every day with that attitude of blanket name calling, which you also did in the story about the guy who adopted two biracial kids... The author of that opinion piece asks the question what would you do? Apparently Cassandra closes her mind, as she states right off the bat that he lost her, and resorts to ad hominem attacks...

Buggs Raplin

Cassie specializes in name-calling.

Machiavelli

[alien][alien][alien]Name-calling not okay with you? Really?

“You call women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’’ and ‘disgusting animals,’” Kelly said Thursday, asking if Trump was fueling the “War on Women.” At the time, Trump dismissed the criticism as “political correctness.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-megyn-kelly-debate-fox-news_us_55c5f6b3e4b0f73b20b989a7

Cassandra

#townjoke

Melowese Richardson

Cassy: You forgot fat shaming.. BTW, how's the diet going still only 75 pounds away from your 25 pound weight loss goal?? Great job.

DMoney

No, but your prejudice of my political beliefs offends me. I wish you would have more respect for all people and not only those whom with you directly associate with. That is, after all, the whole point.

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