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Bias Incident ResponSe Team (BIRST)

Bias Incident ResponSe Team (BIRST)


BIRST is a University-wide team that receives information about bias incidents from individuals who have been a target of, or witnessed, an act of bias 

The role of the BIRST Team is to provide an opportunity for community members to have their voices heard, to facilitate anti-bias education, to mitigate or prevent similar occurrences in the future, advocate for a more inclusive and affirming campus, and to raise issues to appropriate campus entities. 

Response from BIRST does not mean a resolution to an individual situation. Rather, the response takes the form of campus-wide actions designed to mitigate and/or prevent bias actions, which relate to the campus climate.



The University of California, Merced strives to promote safe, affirming and inclusive communities for all students, faculty and staff to learn, work and research together in alignment with the principles of community.  Our community is enriched by the presence of people of different abilities, ages, ancestry, citizenship, cultures, ethnicities, gender identities, gender expressions, health statuses, marital status, medical conditions, national origins,  nationalities, races, religions, spiritualities, sexual identities,  socioeconomic statuses, and veteran status. BIRST welcomes and encourages the continued pursuit of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to build a more inclusive community and reflects our ongoing efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a community that nurtures lifelong learning and growth for all of its members. 


What BIRST does:

  • Reviews bias incident reports impacting members of the University community (students, staff and faculty), that occur on University property or during University-sponsored/affiliated events or activities;
  • Provides incident reporters with available University and community resources as available;
  • BIRST contacts the reporter, if they self identify, to follow-up further on the incident;
  • Refers incident reports to relevant campus administrative bodies for review if a potential violation of University policy is alleged or otherwise identified;

NOTE: BIRST members are mandated reporters.  Reports can be anonymous but may not be kept confidential if the situation involves a mandated report such as danger to self or others, illegal discrimination or harassment or involve a minor

  • Advocates for an inclusive community in regards to education, resources, and responses;
  • Maintains statistical records of bias incidents on campus;
  • Prepares an annual report and periodic updates describing bias incidents reported to BIRST and University efforts to address campus climate; and
  • Promotes conversations and education about issues of inclusion and social justice.


What BIRST does not do:

  • BIRST is not a conduct or disciplinary body;  committee members have no enforcement powers.
  • BIRST members do not investigate incidents.
  • BIRST is not a crisis response team.
  • BIRST members do not provide counseling or legal assistance.

Any incident that is believed to violate University policy or that may constitute a crime should be reported to the appropriate University official.  Informal conflict resolution services are available to assist in addressing concerns arising out of bias incidents.