After the photo of members of the university community standing with guns in front of the Emmett Till memorial was reported by the MCIR, the university made several statements, as well as made changes to the way that BIRT works.
There are six changes, and four of them came after the report about the students posing for a photo with the Till memorial. Groups in the community or others in the university suggested changes.
The university’s general counsel has been added to the BIRT Triage Team, which includes groups on campus that analyze the reports according to their own specialties. The triage team usually receives a report within 24-48 hours of it being filed. Caldwell said that it is important for the triage team to consider “free speech thresholds” in reports of bias and that the general counsel has expertise in that area.
Senior leadership at the university, including the chancellor and provost, will receive copies of the reports from BIRT. Then-Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks and Provost Noel Wilkin asked for this change to be made after the report of the members of the university community posing with the Emmett Till memorial was publicly reported.
An electronic system will be used to manage the BIRT process. The previous general counsel suggested that the process be managed through email. After having conversations with the new general counsel, who joined the university in June of 2018, it was decided that the electronic system would be used. This decision was made before the photo of the students at the Till memorial was publicly reported.
The threshold for public notification is being developed after the MCIR reported the incident at the Till memorial. Caldwell said that she is reaching out to other universities to see what thresholds they have before disclosing a report to the public. Caldwell said she was also considering the best practices from the Clery reports, which include information from crime on campus as mandated by law, to see how BIRT could adopt similar policies. Caldwell said she expects the new system to be ready next semester.
All reports are shared with the BIRT team. The entire team considers reports that do not require additional inquiry or investigation and discusses educational opportunities that could come from the report.