What is Unconscious Bias?
One of the most repeated phrases a person will hear in their childhood is, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Although this statement seems easy, throughout the course of the school year, everyone is busy studying for upcoming tests or grading dozens of papers.
Often this piece of advice is forgotten — it is called unconscious bias.
Students and faculty are expected to recognize these initial impressions before passing judgment throughout the school year with the assistance of the Tiger Mentor staff.
Executive mentor senior Peyton Heaney said a Tiger Mentor is someone who possesses good leadership skills.
“They need to know how to answer different questions and ways around subjects,” Heaney said. “Also, what the school is all about and what the freshmen need to know.”
Another executive tiger mentor, senior Jenna McCarty, defines her position as one of the five people in charge of overseeing the mentors and ensuring everything is going smoothly. She said her main task is to enforce and explain this year’s theme.
“Making snap judgments isn’t fair because you don’t know that person, and you don’t know who they are,” McCarty said. “Judgment is not fair to them. I think it is important to open yourself up to people and to recognize when you stereotype. The whole theme is to recognize that you’re making snap judgments and to stop stereotyping.”
In order to ensure students are following the theme, Tiger Mentors are working hands-on with their assigned Tiger Time teachers.
“Starting off, we watch a video that will show them [unconscious bias],” Heaney said. “Then they will tell us what they think about it and then we’re going to periodically talk about different ways we can stop unconscious bias from happening at our school.”
McCarty continues with how the Tiger Mentor staff will accomplish their goal and the motivation that lies behind the goal of each member.
“We get PowerPoints throughout the year and activities about diversity,” McCarty said. “We are motivated by the unconscious bias video shown at the beginning of the year that instills into the freshmen that they will practice the theme for four years.”
This year’s theme does not just apply to the freshmen, these are just the students that are provided a Tiger Mentor to advise through lessons about the topic. It is important for all grades and the faculty to recognize this behavior and correct it.
“No matter what age you’re at, it’s very difficult to not make judgments; it’s very relevant throughout your entire life because you’re always meeting new people,” McCarty said. “It’s not just the freshmen that are going to be new; you’re going to be a freshman in college one day, you’re going to be new at a job. So it’s important that you treat people the way that you want to be treated and by not judging them.”
McCarty said this year’s new group of Tiger Mentors is great and will work very well with the freshmen. The tiger mentor staff is confident the theme will be effective and that everyone will learn more about not making snap judgments.
“We want to grow the tiger family, and make us one and become better friends and not be rude to each other,” Heaney said.