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Office for Student Conflict Resolution

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Individual Responsibility

Typical responses regarding hate and discrimination.

There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent and minimize the occurrence of bias incidents, as well as raise awareness after a bias incident occurs.

  1. Speak out. Do not let any act of intolerance go unaddressed. Report it. Confront the perpetrator. Inform the community. Remember, silence is encouragement for similar or more severe acts to continue.
  2. Act. Bring awareness to the incident. Hold a vigil or a rally. Educate the perpetrators and the larger community through programs, literature, and intentional dialogue.
  3. Support. When a bias incident occurs, do not leave it to the members from the victimized group to bear the emotional, psychological, and physical burden of managing the aftermath of the incident. Hate affects everyone. Offer sympathy, assistance, and/or reassurance that he/she/they are not alone.
  4. Dialogue – with a wheel-chair bound student or a group of LGBT students. Oftentimes, we avoid having discussions around disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other "sensitive" topics because we do not want to offend anyone or come across as ignorant, or racist, or sexist, or homophobic. However, it is only through such candid conversations that we can begin to achieve greater understanding of our peers, colleagues, and neighbors.
  5. Promote tolerance, acceptance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity.
  6. Educate yourself and others about the individual and societal importance of combating prejudice and oppression and ongoing efforts to do so.
  7. Actively learn about cultures that differ from your own. Attend events that highlight aspects of a group's culture. Visit the Baha'i temple, synagogue, or mosque. Attend programs sponsored by the cultural houses. Have lunch with a Nigerian student to understand what challenges he faces as an international student, what he enjoys about the University and the U.S., and how his cultural values differ from yours.
  8. Be conscious of language, images, and situations that are grounded in stereotypes or have negative connotations (e.g. "third world", "disadvantaged", or "non-White"). Take the time to consider whether your use of certain language might have negative implications to the listener or reader, and determine what you are really trying to convey.
  9. Avoid using qualifiers that perpetuate stereotypes (e.g. articulate African American student).
  10. Treat all people as individuals, not as a homogeneous group. No culture is monolithic; one person or even a group of people do not represent the attitudes, feelings, practices, or interests of an entire race, religion, or nation.
  11. Go outside of your comfort zone. Actively seek out opportunities to interact with persons with whom you might not normally interact.
  12. Use descriptors, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status, only when relevant. Is it necessary to say, "She is Hispanic ..." While one's ethnicity may be a person's most salient feature, it is not essential to the description and serves only to highlight differences. Very rarely, do we say, "He is White ..."
  13. Avoid tokenizing a particular group. When discussing diversity, do not refer to the lone Native American student in the class to speak on behalf of all historically marginalized groups of people.
  14. Get involved. Join local, regional, and national organizations whose ideals are committed to social justice.
  15. Be a role model. Incorporate all of the above suggestions into your everyday life.
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