Bias Education & Support Team (BEST)

Students affected by bias can seek emotional and administrative support through the Bias Education and Support Team (BEST). BEST members will ensure that reported bias incidents are properly recorded so that they may assess the campus climate on an ongoing basis and provide follow-up training and educational opportunities. BEST members also explore options for informal resolution in collaboration with the student(s).

Role and Scope

The role of BEST is both supportive and administrative. BEST members ensure student(s) who report their experiences feel heard throughout the process and understand all the options available to them.

In supporting the student community, BEST aims to reassure student(s) that their feelings are valid and to provide information to help them determine how to proceed. BEST can assist with:

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

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 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 UChicago HELP

Emily Easton
Director, Graduate Administrative Services, UChicagoGRAD

Kathryn Melendez
Academic Advisor

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

Patricia Guadalupe Nieves
Associate Director, Student Centers

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

Ravi Randhava
Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion

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

Tobias Spears
Assistant Dean in Biological Sciences Division, Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Kenyatta Tatum-Futterman, J.D.
Youth Program Coordinator, Office of Risk Management

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.

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 to 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 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.