U of Northern Colorado Will Abandon Bias Unit

September 9, 2016

The University of Northern Colorado has announced that it is abandoning its separate bias response team and plans to deal with bias concerns through other university divisions. Many colleges have created bias response teams, but Northern Colorado's has been criticized for raising questions about the actions and statements of faculty members and students in class -- and many have expressed fears that the work of the team compromised academic freedom.

Kay Norton, president of the university, addressed the topic in her annual fall address to the campus. "Our new approach will uphold the principles of free speech and academic freedom as well as our commitment to create a safe and supportive environment for students. It will address all student concerns not covered by the Discrimination Complaint Procedures, and we will no longer have a separate process for bias-related concerns," she said. "Free speech and academic freedom fuel the ferment of ideas, insights and discoveries that emerge from university communities, and we must do all we can to encourage this ferment. We have an ongoing obligation to talk openly about the inherent tension between upholding academic freedom and building community. These are hard conversations, but this tension is what allows us to be a university community."

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