Bias Incident Prevention and Response Team: What is a Bias Incident?

Category: Policies on Bias and Hate Speech School: Colby College Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: June 12, 2017

Relevant excerpt

As expressed in Colby’s Student Handbook, “Colby stands for diversity, for respect for various lifestyles and beliefs, and for the protection of every individual against discrimination. In the classroom and outside, there is freedom to study, to think, to speak, to work, to learn, and to thrive in an environment that insists upon both civility and the free and open exchange of ideas and views.”  Moreover, “[t]he right of free speech and the open exchange of ideas and views are essential, especially in a learning environment, and Colby College upholds these freedoms vigorously.”

Colby College recognizes, however, that expressions of bias (“bias incidents”) may be harmful to individuals, groups, and/or the campus as a whole–even if these expressions fall within our community standards of free speech, and regardless of whether or not they constitute a direct violation of Colby College’s code of conduct.

A bias incident is characterized as a behavior or act – verbal, written, or physical – which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age.   Bias incidents may be engaged in intentionally or unintentionally.  Sometimes, we may express unconscious bias in ways that are harmful to others without realizing that we are doing so.

Expressions of bias, or bias incidents, can take many forms, including:

  • Using verbal or written slurs or epithets
  • Using hate symbols
  • Defacing posters or signs
  • Telling jokes based on identity-based stereotypes
  • Treating a person or a group of people in a way that is motivated/informed by identity-based stereotypes
  • Avoiding or excluding others because of their perceived identities
  • Imitating someone’s cultural norms or practices.
  • Imitating someone with a perceived physical, cognitive, or psychological difference

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