When a bias incident occurs in the classroom (or in a virtual class space), it is important to recognize and respond to it as soon as possible with your students. It demonstrates that such behavior is not acceptable, can help reassure students who feel targeted, and provides a teachable moment that allows you to “call in,” and educate, everyone present.

In this article, “bias incident” means any comment or action that displays a bias against (or sometimes in favor of) a particular identity group. Examples might include, but aren’t limited to, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, religion-focused, or other slurs; mockery of a particular group through fake accent, body language, or jokes; use of dog-whistles; display of bias symbols or logos; assertion of falsehoods or ideologies aimed at a particular group; and so on.

If a student — or a colleague — does or says something biased, you have options for how to respond in the short- and long-term. You may file a Bias Incident Report (encouraged unless you believe the problem was an isolated case of correctable ignorance that you have addressed). You can contact the Bias Education and Response Team for support handling the situation. You can meet individually with the offending student and affected students. One powerful tool to address bias incidents in the moment in a structured way is SNAP.


In 2019, a group of Champlain student activists of color introduced the SNAP method of addressing classroom bias incidents. It has since become part of the DEI Faculty Training.

STOP: Pause the conversation.

NAME IT: Acknowledge what is wrong.

ADDRESS IT: Allow space for students to share their thoughts and reactions.

PROMOTE CHANGE: Create change by being open to ideas and discussions.

Naming bias and creating change also mean educating students. This is particularly true with dog-whistles or terms and symbols students may not recognize as harmful. (If someone uses the phrase “welfare queen,” for example, they may not know that that phrase is racist/classist shorthand.) It’s likely that other students are also ignorant. And allowing students to address it if they choose to do so is an opportunity for restorative dialogue. (Never call on particular students who you suspect might be affected to share their feelings).

Using a structured method like SNAP can also help you avoid freezing in the moment. Addressing bias as the leader of a class can be intimidating, and a step-by-step approach can help. It can also help if you recognize that you did something biased and you want to acknowledge and apologize for it.

If you would like to learn more about SNAP and responding to trigger language, visit the DEI Faculty Training (Champlain faculty/staff login required).

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