Emory University is a community of respect, openness, understanding, and civility. We continually practice community by sharing our experiences, listening carefully to others, and debating ideas in civil, generous, and constructive ways. However, there are times when the actions and behaviors of community members impact others negatively. The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) was established to respond to such actions and behaviors with resources, support, and actions. While Emory values open expression and vigorous debate in the context of civility and mutual respect for diverse individuals and communities, bias incidents directly impact our ability to know, trust, support, and learn from one another.




The term 'bias incident' refers to language and/or actions that demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or status as a military veteran.

Some, but not all, bias incidents may rise to the level of discriminatory harassment, sexual misconduct, or other violations of policy or law and will be subject to applicable disciplinary and legal processes. It is important to note that expressions of opinion on social or political issues (even on controversial questions of race, gender, identity, etc.) are protected under the university's Open Expression Policy, and therefore cannot be the subject of disciplinary sanctions.

BIRT will receive the report and respond to you, as the incident reporter, within 24 hours. A team member will seek additional information regarding the incident, provide support resources, and schedule a time to meet with you, if appropriate. If the reported action did not violate the law or Emory University policy, BIRT will explore options for resolution and work with the reporter to resolve the incident. The reporter will then be asked by the Emory Ombudsperson to provide feedback on the reporting process.

If the action violates the law or Emory policy, the incident reporter may be encouraged to take action through one of the following offices/individuals:

  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Title IX Coordinators
  • Office of Equity and Inclusion
  • Emory Police
  • Emory Human Resources/Employee Relations
  • Supervisors/Deans/Other Campus Administrators

All BIRT members will receive your report. BIRT will decide whether the report is actionable. If no action is possible or necessary, the incident will be documented. If the incident is actionable, the BIRT coordinator will communicate with involved parties, develop a plan to resolve the issue, and document the resolution.

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) includes members of the university community who are available to support and guide Emory community members seeking assistance on how to handle a bias incident. Team members document incidents and meet with affected community members as needed to ensure safety and provide referrals, assistance, and comfort.

As needed, Bias Incident Response Team members will develop an appropriate plan to initiate communication with the broader community and make referrals to the Office of Student Conduct, Office of Equity and Inclusion, or the Emory Police Department, if the incident appears to violate a university policy or state/federal law.

Some actions and situations may not violate law or policy but, nonetheless, fail to support our vision of a community of respect, openness, understanding, and civility. BIRT not only helps students filing a report, it keeps records of bias incidents to ensure that members of the community have appropriate access to information related to these incidents. BIRT also serves as a liaison to members of the community who may not know where or how to seek appropriate resources.

Reporting a bias incident helps to ensure our community addresses issues that impact our ability to cultivate the trust and cultural humility that are essential components of community building and learning at Emory. Reporting bias incidents also ensures that members of our community receive necessary support resources. Finally, this information provides the university with a record of current issues on campus and enables the community to track trends.

BIRT is made up a core group of trained staff who can respond to bias incidents involving students, faculty, and staff. Team members are available to support and guide individuals seeking assistance in determining how to handle a bias incident.

Members of the Bias Response Team include:

Michele Hempfling
Assistant Dean for Campus Life
Director of Residential Education and Services
Chief Conduct Officer for Oxford College

Maurice Middleton
Director and Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Officer
Office of Equity and Inclusion

Jeanne Thigpen
Employee Relations

Julia Thompson
Office of Student Conduct

Allison Butler
Access, Disability Resources, and Services

Wanda Collins
Counseling and Psychological Services

Chanel Craft Tanner
Center for Women

Bridgette Young Ross
Office of Spiritual and Religious Life

Paula Gomes
Faculty Staff Assistance Program

Danielle Steele
Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Life

Wanda Swan

Ed Lee
Office of Racial and Cultural Engagement

Lieutenant Thomas Manns
Emory Police Department

The Bias Incident Response Team produces regular reports to the community. These reports do not include data from other sources, such as the Emory Police Department or the Office of Student Conduct. For more information on campus crime, see the Campus Security and Fire Safety Report.