By Joseph D’Andrea
Giving others a genuine sense of being heard is the minimum level of assurance that many long for. For college students—many of whom are still trying to find their individual voice and identity—this is a crucial part of their developmental process as it allows them to express their desires in a valuable, reciprocal manner.
However, sometimes the barriers individuals see in front of them are ones that they cannot always avoid, such as others’ perceptions of those who feel as though their voices are being suppressed on some level. For those on campus who feel this way, Adelphi’s Bias Response Team, made up of a multidisciplinary group of faculty and staff members, was created this semester to address the concerns of the community that exhibit signs of bias.
Doing so through meetings, educational training and referring students to resources on campus, the team currently seeks to raise awareness of their importance at Adelphi. Team members include Joseph De Gearo, assistant vice president and dean of students; Sarah Eltabib, a senior lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences; Diana Damilatis-Kull, the director of Adelphi's Bridges program; Rosemary Garabedian, director of the Student Access Office; Brian Glick, director of Student Conduct and Community Standards; Michael Hoffner, coordinator of Adelphi’s Interfaith Center and Panther Pantry; Jacqueline Jones LaMon, vice president for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging; Jessica Monaco, coordinator of Integrated Care and Case Management; Chotsani West, executive Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging; Allison Vernace, chief of Community Concern and Resolution; Anna Zinko, assistant vice president for Student Affairs; and Scott Zotto, associate director of the Student Counseling Center.
“At this moment, our goal is to ensure that our community is aware of the values, philosophy and processes of the Bias Response Team,” West said. “We are here to listen, support, act and respond. This is a necessary component to enhance Adelphi’s personalized approach. Positive relationships help to create an environment that is conducive to learning and understanding. Trust, communication and transparency are critical for successful student-faculty relationships.
“I feel that Adelphi adequately provides students with a myriad of opportunities and resources to ensure that students are fully aware of their student rights, which is closely connected to the freedom of expression, with the understanding that this freedom must not be abused, and is not intended to threaten, intimidate or discriminate against others,” West continued. “We want students to know that their safety, well-being and knowledge about issues that impact them are important to the Bias Response Team. Equally important is Adelphi’s commitment to fostering critical thinking and inquiry which support a student’s journey here and beyond.”
Though new, the Bias Response Team aims to ensure security to students and has promising plans, which they feel students’ input is key in doing so.
“I think the future objectives of our team will be shaped by valuable input from our community,” West said. “Additionally, our team closely monitors the trends and current research related to this important work, so we’ll be effectively able to respond to the needs of our community. Our Bias Response Team remains open to feedback from our community.”
Monaco, who coordinates Adelphi’s Care Team, spoke about working with barriers students may experience and how connecting them to the appropriate resources contributes to the efforts of the Bias Response Team.
“I feel that we have a great group of faculty and staff members who are dedicated to working with students to assure they feel safe, comfortable and heard,” Monaco said. “Offices like the Care Team, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Student Community Engagement and the Dean of Students office are just a few examples of places where students can discuss their concerns, ask questions on how to address their concerns, and educate themselves on the universities policies, procedures and resources available to them.”
She added, “SCE has a variety of events, clubs, organizations for students, often made by students who have discussed their passion in a specific topic. Our offices work to hear from students, what their concerns are, what changes or additions they'd like to make, and we work with the students to achieve their goals.”
If you are experiencing bias in any form and are seeking help from professionals who you can relate to and receive advice from, contact the Adelphi’s Bias Response Team. More information can be found at www.adelphi.edu/bias-response.