The Bias Incident Support and Advisory Team (BISA) is dedicated to educating about and addressing discrimination at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The team, formed after multiple MSU students expressed concern over biased incidents, consists of faculty from numerous offices and departments across campus.
Kenneth Reid is the co-chair and co-convenor of the team, as well as the director of African American Affairs. A full list of members to contact can be found on the university’s website under Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“A couple of years ago, our campus had experienced a number of biased incidents from a vehicle that was driving on our premises saying racial slurs to our campus community members. Around the same time, I was personally receiving informal concerns from some of our students about things that were happening in different parts of the campus related to bias,” Reid explained. “From there, we entertained the conversation with the director of Title IX and the director of campus safety. Together, we developed a policy as well as procedural steps to handle and address issues of bias in our campus community.”
The BISA Team assists with multiple ways bias can manifest, including roommate incidents, issues with peers, or discrimination from faculty.
“We are working proactively in the upcoming year to ensure that there is more awareness of the team, so that people know where they can go if they are experiencing forms of bias,” he noted.
Reid then went on to discuss how someone can report an incident to the BISA Team.
“There are a number of ways to report an incident. Meeting with one of BISA Team members, contacting our BISA email, or submitting to our BISA form. The person can submit anonymously through the form or through a third-party individual,” Reid stated. “We collect that information and meet back with the individual to find out what they want, what is happening, and what trends we are seeing in that area. We work directly with that individual, on a case-by-case basis with what we know, what we need to do, and how we best support the needs of the individual. We want to make sure that they are heard, they are valued, and they understand that we take the situation seriously.”
The MSU Student Government is another source for students to report incidents, as the organization will assist in finding the right person to ensure the situation is acknowledged.
“Student Government works hard to ensure that bias or discrimination of any kind isn’t tolerated on this campus and is quickly addressed. We support students who have experienced bias and use our platform to call out systemic bias and advocate for change,” says Student Body Vice President Kara Svercl. “The best way to get in contact with us is to stop by the office or to send us an email.”
Both the office location and contact information can be found on the university’s website.
Write to Alexandra Tostrud at Alexandra.Tostrud@mnsu.edu