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. Freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge and should not be restricted by a multitude of rules.

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

Students who experience such an incident can seek assistance from the Bias Education & Support Team (BEST). BEST's mission is to educate and support students affected by bias incidents and empower them to respond effectively.

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

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.

Holly Bland
Director, Graduate Admissions, UChicago GRAD

Dana Bozeman
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, UChicago GRAD

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

Emily Easton
Director, Graduate Administrative Services, UChicagoGRAD

Kathryn Melendez
College Advisor, Office of the Dean of Students, The College

Joanne Nee
Director of Professional Accountability in the Department of Safety and Security

Patricia Guadalupe Nieves
Associate Director, Office of Event Services

Tiana Pyer-Pereira
Associate Director of Advancement and Diversity in the Office of the Provost

Ravi Randhava
Senior Director for the Center for Identity + Inclusion and Assistant Dean of Students in the University

Ireri Rivas
Director, Student Support Services

Vickie Sides
Associate Director of Prevention Initiatives and Programming, Office for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Support

Tobias Spears
Director of Diversity Initiatives, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Biological Sciences Division (BSD)

Belinda Cortez Vazquez
Associate Dean of Students in the University for Student Affairs and Director of Student Emergency Response Systems

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 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.

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. 

When bias incidents do not involve a violation of law or University policy, BEST members may offer to assist the student in implementing remedying solutions, called BEST practices. BEST practices include:

  • Facilitated dialogue with the affected community
  • Facilitated dialogue with all parties involved in the incident
  • Restorative circles, such as hearing circles and peace circles
  • Educational opportunities
  • Speak-outs and testimonials
  • Other restorative remedies

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:

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.