Bias Education & Support Team (BEST)

The University of Chicago is a community of scholars dedicated to research, academic excellence, and the pursuit and cultivation of learning. Members of the University community cannot thrive unless each is accepted as an autonomous individual and is treated without regard to characteristics irrelevant to participation in the life of the University. Freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge and should not be restricted by a multitude of rules.

Members of our community sometimes express thoughts and perspectives that are perceived as false, objectionable, or offensive by others. Expressions that cause hurt or discomfort can, but do not for that reason alone, constitute a violation of the law or of University policy.  Rather, the communications are assessed within the standards provided by germane University reports and policies, including the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression and the University Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct, and statements that reinforce the University's commitment to diversity, civility, and equity http://studentmanual.uchicago.edu/university.

Bias is a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common characteristics, such as skin color, or cultural experiences, such as religion or national origin.

A bias incident involves actions committed against or directed toward a person or property that are motivated, in whole or in part, by a bias against race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes as required by law and that interferes with one's educational opportunities or disrupts the learning environment.

The University urges anyone who has experienced or witnessed a Bias Incident to report it to the Bias Education & Support Team (BEST).  If you are interested in reporting a Bias Incident you may do so by clicking here.

Reports will be treated as confidentially as possible. For all reports containing contact information, a BEST member will contact the reporting person and if desired, offer a meeting to discuss the incident in detail, and explore a plan for resolution.  During this meeting, the reporting person can expect to obtain information about related University policies, procedures, and resources. 

Other University offices may be consulted as needed to ensure a proper response. All campus entities will adhere to FERPA regulations when handling reports and information submitted via this website. If the matter is referred for further action by the Dean of Students Office or another appropriate campus entity, the processes for review and possible further action are carried out with the same measure of individual protection.

For information regarding pursuing disciplinary or legal action against anyone subject to University policies, please see:

The Bias Education & Support Team (BEST) is made up of staff who are available to support and guide students seeking assistance in determining how to handle an alleged bias incident. Members of BEST also assist the Dean of Students in the University in documenting and reporting incidents that occur on campus. Bias incident data will be used to develop community educational and outreach programs.

Bias incidents that can be addressed by BEST include any actions that are motivated by bias, even if they do not include the elements required to prove a hate crime or a violation of University policy.

Although BEST can assist students in determining whether a violation of law or University policy may have occurred, and may refer students to additional resources should such a violation be likely, BEST cannot initiate disciplinary action or impose sanctions.

Members of BEST are listed below. You may contact any member if you have questions regarding bias or a bias incident.

Tahir Abdullah
Assistant Director of Spiritual Life, Advisor for Muslim Affairs

tabdullah@uchicago.edu
773-702-2484

Amanda Beirne
Community Assistant Director, College Housing

adbeirne@uchicago.edu
773-702-0786

Lynda Daher
Assistant Dean of Students in the University for Student Affairs and Associate Director for Student Emergency Response Systems

ldaher@uchicago.edu
(773) 702-8762

La Tonja Ellis
Human Resources Generalist
latonjaellis@uchicago.edu
(773) 795-4855

Kimberly Gardiner
Senior Program Coordinator, Student Disability Services
gardiner@uchicago.edu
773-702-6000

Michael Jogerst
Assistant Dean and Director, Career Services, School of Social Service Administration
mjogerst@uchicago.edu
(773) 702-1173

Joanne Nee
Deputy Chief of Police, Field Services Bureau
nee@uchicago.edu
(773) 795-3882

Celina Chatman Nelson
Assistant Director, Graduate Career Development
celinacn@uchicago.edu
(773) 834-8021

Ravi Randhava
Director, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
rrandhava@uchicago.edu
(773) 702-7774

Ireri Rivas
Director, Student Support Services
mirivas@uchicago.edu
(773) 702-2435

Vickie Sides
Director, Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention
vsides@uchicago.edu
(773) 834-7738

Tobias Spears
Associate Director for Diversity Initiatives, Biological Sciences Division (BSD)
tlspears@uchicago.edu
(773) 834-1005

Belinda Cortez Vazquez
Associate Dean of Students in the University for Student Affairs and Director of Student Emergency Response Systems
belinda@uchicago.edu
(773) 834-9710

For information regarding support services and additional resources, please consult any of the following:

The following are completely confidential support services:

In case of an emergency or if a crime occurred, please contact:

Bias incident data may be used to develop community educational and outreach programs.