What is a bias incident?
Something a person does, says, or otherwise expresses that is motivated by bias related to age, race, ethnicity, sex, color, creed, religion, disability, veteran status, gender identity or expression, national origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, or any combination of these or other related factors.
First and foremost, the BIRT ensures the immediate safety and support of those affected by incidents of bias/hate. Next, the BIRT assigns the bias/hate case to the appropriate campus department for immediate review and next steps, which can include providing support to individual(s) and/or communities, forwarding the report for investigation, and strategizing the need for additional educational programming.
It is important to note that not every act which may be offensive to an individual or group will be considered to be discriminatory conduct and a violation of system or institutional policy. The university values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, all of which must be vitally sustained in a community of scholars. Whether a specific incident constitutes harassment as proscribed by university policy or federal law will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Due consideration will be given to the protection of First Amendment rights.
While the First Amendment protects the free expression of ideas that are sometimes offensive, that does not mean the university is powerless to respond. Instead of trying to censor or punish free speech, the Bias Incident Reporting Team documents and tracks these incidents in order to:
- Assist the target of bias/hate in receiving the appropriate support services (if requested)
- Work collaboratively across campus to develop programming and training opportunities to address individual and systemic inequity
- Detect emerging patterns of biased or hateful activity, both on campus and within the greater community
- Publish aggregated data about bias/hate incidents and trends
- Make recommendations to campus leadership for the prevention of future bias/hate incidents
What happens to students, faculty, or staff who are identified as perpetrators of bias/hate incidents?
The incident and potential perpetrators are investigated by the appropriate agency (i.e. Dean of Students and/or Housing staff for students and Human Resources staff for faculty and staff). Once a determination has been made by the investigating officer or agency, actions will be taken to address any behavior that doesn’t meet our policies. Education will be provided to try to prevent future incidents.