Series of Bias Incidents Shock Reed Community

Three bias incident notifications sent out on Sept. 16

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, members of the Reed community received notice of a bias incident that occured on campus early the previous Sunday morning. 

According to an email sent by the Dean of Institutional Diversity, Mary James, and the Vice President for Student Life, Karnell McConnell-Black, racial and homophobic slurs were written on a student’s dorm room door and on various surfaces in the surrounding common spaces in the form of graffiti. 

“The student contacted [the] Student Life [Office] immediately,” stated the email. “Student Life staff members responded quickly, offered the student immediate and ongoing support, and reported the incident to college administrators.”

Because the residence halls are only accessible to Reed community members with ID cards, it is unlikely that this attack was made by someone outside of the community. 

Freshman Emma Marek was shocked when she heard about the incident in the dorms. 

“I don’t know why anyone would feel the need to harm another person that much and that intentionally,” Marek said. “It’s really not okay, and it makes me feel less safe at Reed. Having stuff like that spray painted in the place you live, the place where you should feel the safest, just seems like it’s crossing way too many lines.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only incident that has occurred thus far in 2020. In June, a Reed community safety officer (CSO) took part in the racial profiling of three community members, leaving them feeling unwelcome on campus. An investigation was conducted by OID, and the CSO who participated in the profiling is no longer employed by Reed. 

Freshman Ruth Tam felt scared and shocked to hear the news, and she also now feels less safe on campus.

“[The incident] made me realize that you can’t know what biases and intolerances someone has until they decide to show you,” Tam said. 

Marek also was not very surprised to hear about the profiling incident. 

“My first thought was how horrible and sad it is that I’m not even surprised by racial profiling from these people who are supposed to be our protectors,” Marek said. “Campus police are basically just cops for schools, so it makes sense that institutionalized racism would be there too.” 

In the same email that notified the community about the dorm incident, James and McConnell-Black also shared information about a third incident. A CSO had posted on their personal Facebook account a profile filter, depicting a thin blue line graphic associated with the Blue Lives Matter countermovement. In response, multiple students reported the post as disrespectful and threatening. 

“The staff member was informed of the harmful impact of this image and promptly removed the image,” stated the email. “Karnell McConnell-Black personally connected with every student who expressed concerns about the post.”

Although the staff member took down the post, a Reed alumnus posted a racially charged and misogynistic response targeted at the staff member, according to the email. It was then reposted by a current student, which led to the staff member receiving hostile phone calls and text messages. 

In the midst of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, it is the responsibility of all members of the Reed community to take responsibility for their actions and to report anything, such as racial profiling and homophobia, through the Bias Incident Report form that can be found on the Reed website, or directly to the Office for Institutional Diversity.

Correction: A previous version of the article misstated information pertaining to the incident of racial profiling that occured over the summer. It was reported to and investigated by the Office of Institutional Diversity, not Community Safety as previously stated. Furthermore, the Community Safety Officer (CSO) involved in the racial profiling incident from the summer is no longer employed by Reed. The CSO’s termination was overseen by Director of Community Safety Gary Granger.

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Gary Granger
Gary Granger
2 years ago

The information reported regarding the instance of racial profiling by a Community Safety Officer (CSO) is wrong.

First, the report was NOT investigated by Community Safety, rather by Reed’s Office of Institutional Diversity (OID), with recommendations for follow-up made by OID and Human Resources.

Second, the CSO involved in the incident no longer works for Reed College, and outcome for which I am responsible.

Had the Quest taken reasonable steps to verify their reporting (e.g., contacting me, OID, etc.) the gross errors and dissemination of false information, and the harm caused could have been prevented.

Gary Granger
Reed College Director of Community Safety

2 years ago


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