Bias Education & Support Team (BEST)

Students impacted by bias can seek support through the Bias Education and Support Team (BEST). BEST members will ensure that bias incidents are properly documented so the University can assess the campus climate on an ongoing basis. BEST members will provide follow-up training and educational opportunities when applicable. We can also explore options for informal resolution in collaboration with the student(s).

Role and Scope

The role of BEST is supportive and administrative. BEST members ensure student(s) who report their experiences of bias are heard throughout the process and understand available options.

BEST will validate students' feelings and provide information to assist in the following ways:

  • Confidentially report concerns about behavior by a member of the University community
  • Create a space for students to process their experiences and get support for their decision, even when their decision is not to proceed now
  • Identify University resources for matters implicating the University’s policies on Civil Behavior in a University Setting and/or Harassment, Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct
  • Identify campus and community resources for education and other supportive services
  • Coach students through difficult conversations and/or written correspondence
  • Facilitate listening sessions and healing circles as the situation necessitates
  • Provide educational workshops

At times, staff and/or faculty may reach out to BEST for consultation on student issues. BEST may offer recommendations, though the process is always intended to be student driven. Our primary mission is to focus on students’ needs, particularly students with marginalized identities.

The scope of BEST does not include:

  • Acting as a disinterested third-party
  • Giving legal advice
  • Mediating any contractual disputes
  • Providing services for issues or matters pertaining exclusively to staff or faculty
  • Engaging in educational conversations that we don’t deem to be productive, based on assessment and consultation
  • Acting in a role in lieu of appropriate University administrative response

BEST is comprised of staff members from offices across the University, including Campus and Student Life, the Center for Identity + Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity Programs. BEST members receive extensive training on campus cultures, responding to bias and microaggressions, restorative and transformative practices, and conflict management.

BEST also assists the University Dean of Students in documenting and reporting incidents that affect our students. Bias incident data is used to develop 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.

BEST will assist students in determining whether a violation of law or University policy occurred, and will refer students to additional resources. However, 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.

Holly Bland
Director, Graduate Admissions, UChicago GRAD

hkbland@uchicago.edu

Dana Bozeman
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, UChicago GRAD

dbozeman@uchicago.edu

Lynda Daher
Assistant Dean of Students in the University for Student Affairs and Associate Director for UChicago HELP

ldaher@uchicago.edu

Emily Easton
Lead Project Manager, Finance and Administration 
eweaston@uchicago.edu

Kathryn Melendez
Academic Advisor
melendez@uchicago.edu

Joanne Nee
Director of Professional Accountability for the Department of Safety and Security
nee@uchicago.edu

Patricia Guadalupe Nieves
Associate Director, Student Centers
lupen@uchicago.edu

Tiana Pyer-Pereira
Associate Director of Advancement and Diversity in the Office of the Provost
tianap@uchicago.edu

Ravi Randhava
Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion
rrandhava@uchicago.edu

Vickie R. Sides
Director for Education and Outreach, Assistant Dean of Students, Equal Opportunity Programs
vsides@uchicago.edu

Tobias Spears
Assistant Dean in Biological Sciences Division, Office of Diversity & Inclusion
tlspears@uchicago.edu

Kenyatta Tatum-Futterman, J.D.
Youth Program Coordinator, Office of Risk Management
kenyatta@uchicago.edu

Belinda Cortez Vazquez
Associate Dean of Students in the University for Student Affairs and Director of Student Emergency Response Systems
belinda@uchicago.edu

Bias is a natural inclination for or against an idea, object, group, or individual. It is often learned and is highly dependent on variables such as a person’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, educational background, gender expression, gender identity and religion. Biases can be conscious or unconscious – explicit or implicit. In addition, bias can be institutionalized into policies, practices and structures.

A bias incident is any act that targets individuals or groups based on perceived or actual identity. To be considered a bias incident, the act is not required to be a crime under any federal, state or local statutes, nor does it have to violate University policy.

The University urges anyone who experiences or witnesses a bias incident to report it to BEST.  If you are interested in reporting a bias incident you may do so by clicking here, or by contacting a BEST member listed on this page.

For all reports containing contact information, a BEST member will contact the reporting person and 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.

BEST may consult with other offices 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 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:

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 educational workshops and outreach efforts.