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Understanding Implicit Bias: Please Complete by Sept. 6

August 28, 2019
First Year Students
Allen W. Groves, University Dean of Students

Dear Student:

It was good to see the members of the Class of 2023 and our newest transfer students at Convocation on Sunday. I hope you are starting to feel comfortable around Grounds. By now, I imagine you have a pretty good sense of where things are and have started to recognize a few friends in the dining hall. I have no doubt you are already making this place your own.

UVA's commitment to a diverse, inclusive community that follows truth wherever it may lead is central to our work. I write now to introduce you to one of our newest initiatives, one that we launched with the entering class in fall 2017. Below you will find a link to a program called Understanding Implicit Bias. The link will take you to a custom-designed, interactive program that will give you a good starting point for important conversations around how we engage one another in this community. It's empirically based on what we know about how the brain works, and Brian Nosek, one of the theory's leading researchers, has taught in the UVA Psychology department. The material is neither political nor ideological in nature.

The short, four-part module explains what to expect and includes links to the theoretical basis of the program, so I won't go into those details here. After you've taken the module, your RA will lead you in an initial conversation about what you learned and what questions you may have. As with the other modules you took this summer (Alcohol Wise, Not on Our Grounds, Honor), this module is required (although the Implicit Association Test in the middle is optional). The final deadline to complete the module is September 6, 2019. I respectfully ask that you make completion of this item a priority. In the community of trust and self-governance that characterizes UVA, your individual commitment can help bring about positive change.

Again, let me reiterate—this is just the start of a very important and sometimes difficult conversation that you will have throughout your time at UVA, and likely well into your alumni years. Understanding how we relate to and build empathy for one another is the foundation of the respectful community for which we strive at UVA, and treating people equitably and fairly is a cornerstone of any healthy society. As with the discussions about Grounds for DiscussionHoos Got Your Back, and the other safety and respect-related programming you have heard the past few days, the Understanding Implicit Bias module is an opportunity to learn about yourself and build the skills critical to engaged citizenship.

Thank you in advance for your time and your open mind. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you over the next four years.

Please log in to your Student Center in the Student Information System (SIS) to get started.


Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students