The University of Rhode Island’s Bias Response Team, based out of the Division of Student Affairs, works to gather information about bias incidents and to support those who have witnessed, or become a target of an act of bias.
The role of the Bias Response Team is to:
- Provide a safe space to targets of bias to have their voices heard
- To promote civility and respect
- To effect change around these important issues
- To ensure a comprehensive response to bias incidents
- Any physical, spoken or written act of abuse
- Making remarks of a personally destructive nature toward any other person
- Any restriction or prevention of free movement of an individual
The incident is experienced as hurtful by one or many and may involve harassment, the creation of a hostile environment, property damage, verbal threats of violence, or physical violence. The incident may or may not involve breaches of University policies or state or federal law.
Bias Incident vs. Hate Crime
The above description may make someone think of the term “Hate Crime”. However, these two terms are not the same. What distinguishes the two is the legality of the action.
For example, degrading someone because they are a person of color is a hate crime.
If someone is harassed or teased because of a disability but not to the point of violating a law, it is bias incident. As soon as the action crosses the line of violating a law, it may be defined as a hate crime.
The Bias Response Team understands that distinguishing whether something is a bias incident or a hate crime may be difficult. If you have a feeling, or just want to report the incident to be sure, feel free to make a report about what happened, and we can help you from there. Our staff can examine a situation and help a reporter decide what to do next.