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Duke commits to create new hate and bias policy, implement anti-bias programming

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Duke has announced steps to address the impact of racism on campus, including revising the undergraduate community standard to create a “more concrete” protocol for responses to hate and bias incidences. 

This summer, a working group including “students and key stakeholders” will revise the undergraduate student harassment policy to include more “concrete response protocols that address incidents of hate and bias,” wrote Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs, and Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, in a Monday email to students. 

The group will be led by Jeanna McCullers, senior associate dean of students and director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, and Clay Adams, associate dean of students and director for parent and family programs. The new dean of students will be involved in the effort once one is named.

“We know that students from marginalized communities at Duke have voiced concerns about racism and injustice long before we began serving in our roles, and that students have sought changes—particularly around our hate and bias protocols—in recent years,” McMahon and Bennett wrote.

Duke’s protocols for responding to acts of hate and bias have been a point of controversy in the past. In May 2018, the People’s State of the University activist group collected more than 600 signatures on a petition calling for a standardized policy for responding to such incidents. Last year, the Bias and Hate Task Force advisory committee submitted a draft proposal to the administration to improve Duke’s response to acts of hate and bias. 

In addition to the revised hate and bias protocols, McMahon and Bennett wrote that a group of administrators will develop “anti-racist and anti-bias programs” for faculty. Similar programming will be implemented for incoming first-years and transfer students in the fall. 

Finally, the administration will review existing anti-racist and anti-bias efforts and identify “financial and structural resources” needed to meet their goals, in partnership with the Office of Institutional Equity and identity and cultural centers in Student Affairs.  

“There is significant and complex work ahead, and we’re committed to centering this as a shared and enduring priority in undergraduate student life,” McMahon and Bennett wrote. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Jeanna McCullers as associate dean of students, Title IX and bias incident management. As of June 1, she is senior associate dean of students and director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

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