Bias-related incidents are expressions of hostility against another individual (or group) because of the other person’s (or group’s) race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation, or because the perpetrator perceives that the other person (or group) has one or more of these characteristics. Depending on the circumstances, a bias-related incident may not be a crime, and may be protected speech. The conduct underlying some bias- related incidents may violate the College’s policies, including provisions of the Student Code and the Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Free Speech requirements protect many forms of “hateful” and intolerant speech and expressive conduct, including that which occurs during such common College activities as debates, speeches, arguments, conversations, classroom discussions, lectures, distribution of flyers and displaying of posters. In certain contexts, courts have found speech and expressive conduct to be protected that many in our community would find repugnant, including such things as display of the confederate flag, nazi symbols, cross burning, and flag burning. Such speech and expressive conduct, however, may be inconsistent with the College’s community values and it may present an opportunity for open dialogue, debate and better understanding of the scope of protected speech and the role of tolerance in a community.