Bias Offense: A bias offense is any act that is based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, disability, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, veteran status, or age that creates an intimidating and/or hostile educational , living, or working environment by unreasonably and substantially interfering with an individual’s or group’s safety, security, work, or academic performance. Acts include language and/or behaviors. An intimidating and/or hostile environment is one that reasonably results from severe or pervasive bias related conduct.
Bias Incident: Bias incidents involve any behavior that a person finds harmful or hurtful and reasonably believes is directed at him or her or others simply because of one’s race, color, religion, disability, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, veteran status, or age.
Bias incident versus bias offense under this policy: Bias incident is the broadest category of bias-related behavior that includes bias offenses, as defined earlier in this policy, hate crimes, and lesser incidents that are motivated by bias (see definition of hate crime below). A bias incident may involve protected speech.
The University of Mary Washington vigorously supports freedom of inquiry and expression within the academic community. All members of this community have a fundamental right to follow their interests and to express their views privately and publicly without censorship, constrained only by the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the laws of the United States, and respect for the property and person of others.
While these freedoms protect controversial ideas, differing views, and sometimes offensive and hurtful words, they do not protect individual or group conduct that constitutes a bias offense.
The University considers bias offense conduct to be unacceptable and antithetical to its commitments to diversity, inclusiveness, and the right of every individual to be treated with dignity and respect. To ensure an environment that fosters civility and mutual respect for members of the University community, bias offenses are prohibited.