A new bias reporting tool known as the Incident Report Form (IRF) replacing former tool, ReportIt!, was announced in an email on Tuesday from University of New Hampshire (UNH) President James Dean, Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity Nadine Petty, and Director and Title IX Coordinator Donna Marie Sorrentino.
This new tool is expected to allow reporting for all incidents of bias, including “discrimination and discriminatory harassment, bias, hate, retaliation, bullying and sexual harassment and/or violence that involves any member of the university community,” according to the email.
This announcement comes after many members of the UNH community expressed their concerns about ReportIt! and the Title IX Incident Report Form, such as not receiving proper follow-ups from the university regarding their submission.
The email stated that they “are confident this new Incident Report Form (IRF) will streamline the reporting process and improve follow-up with impacted parties, including those who report anonymously.”
In an email interview with The New Hampshire, Petty said the IRF was developed by the Affirmative Action and Equity Office (AA&EO) in partnership with NAVEX, a company that specializes in user-friendly form creation, as well as UNH community members.
“To address gaps in our process, particularly as it relates to education, guidance, and care of impacted individuals, we created a new Bias Response and Support Coordinator position. Students have told me they are excited about the position and the possibilities it opens up for those reporting incidents of bias, particularly when related to race/ethnicity or LGBTQ+ identities,” said Petty.
In a town hall hosted by Dean and Petty in September, they emphasized that they were working hard to ensure any reports filed using ReportIt! or by any other modes of communication would be supported from start to finish. However, Tuesday’s email referred to the platform as “outdated” and said that the new IRF will be “user friendly, easy to navigate and compatible with mobile devices, allowing users to upload documents, text messages, photos and videos as well as access additional information and related university policies and procedures.”
“The new IRF allows for a more secure collection of information, easier inter-office collaboration, better communication with impacted parties, better analytic capabilities involving bias trends on campus, is personal device friendly, and allows for reporting parties to provide details of incidents in their own words via a text box with an unrestricted number of characters,” Petty said in the email interview.
These features were originally to be added to ReportIt! sometime in November according to the September town hall but have now been incorporated into the IRF, a tool that has been in the works for nearly two years.
In terms of the follow-up feature in the IRF, the FAQ page is an “option for those submitting reports to have ability to keep in touch with [the Affirmative Action and Equity Office] team as they respond to the status of your inquiries and provide additional information. This allows access to a portal which allows two-way communication between AA&EO team and reporting parties to ask questions, provide additional details and upload attachments – all while remaining completely anonymous.”
These reports can also be submitted even if the incident doesn’t happen directly to the person reporting it, and whoever submits it is able to sign up and follow updates on the report – anonymous or not.
“The new IRF and the newly created Bias Response Support Coordinator position is a result of us listening to the stated needs of our community members and following through. This is just the beginning. Work continues to be done to improve campus experiences and to provide education aimed at improving the chances that UNH community members treat everyone we encounter with civility and respect, regardless of gender, political viewpoints, race, sexual orientation, ability status, or any other identity,” said Petty.
UNH has been working to continuously improve its diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI), including a list of strategic initiatives and an active document listing projects that are currently underway by UNH faculty and staff.
Totaling seven strategic initiatives, UNH aims to create a more diverse faculty, staff, and student body, an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, especially people of color, and prepare all students to function effectively in diverse settings, at UNH and beyond. They also aim to include issues of racism, diversity, and inclusion in their research, have leadership teams proactively address diversity and inclusion, and create structures to facilitate their initiatives.