To report a bias incident or hate crime, please use the BIRT online reporting form. 

Definitions (Please find sources at bottom of page)

What is a bias incident?

Bias is a preconceived, negative attitude about a person or group based on their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion or disability.

  • Bias incidents are any actions committed against a person or group that are motivated in whole or in part, by bias against the person’s or group’s sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion, or disability.
  • Hate crimes are criminal offenses committed against a person or group that are motivated in whole or in part, by bias against the person’s or group’s sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion, or disability.

All hate crimes are bias incidents, but not all bias incidents are hate crimes. Examples of bias incidents that fall short of hate crimes:

  • Comments that express harmful stereotypes about the above categories, e.g., racial jokes.
  • Graffiti on a dorm room white board that expresses bias against the above categories, e.g., sexist or racist language or images. (Note: If the graffiti constitutes criminal vandalism or property damage, it can constitute a hate crime.)
  • T-shirts promoting a campus party with language and imagery that objectify women.
  • Students posting fliers for the organizational meeting of a new white supremacist student organization.

Glossary of Terms

Anti-Bias: An active commitment to challenging prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination.

Bias: An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.

Bigotry: An unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices.

Bullying: The repeated actions or threats of action directed toward a person by one or more people who have (or are perceived to have) more power or status than their target in order to cause fear, distress or harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological or any combination of these three. Bullying behaviors can include name-calling, obscene gesturing, malicious teasing, rumors, slander, social exclusion, damaging a person’s belongings, threats and physical violence.

Culture: The patterns of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals and clothing, to name a few.

Cyber-bullying: Involves using the computer or other electronic medium to send mean, hurtful or threatening messages or images about another person for the purpose of hurting or embarrassing the person, to pretend to be someone else in order to make that person look bad and/or to intentionally exclude someone from an online group.

Discrimination: The denial of justice and fair treatment by both individuals and institution in many arenas, including employment, education, housing, banking and political rights. Discrimination is an action that can follow prejudicial thinking.

Diversity: Means different or varied. The population of the United States is made up of people from diverse “races,” cultures and places.

Harassment: Words, conduct or action(usually repeated or persistent) that, being directed at a specific person, annoys, alarms or causes substantial emotional distress in that person and serves no legitimate purpose.

Identity: A sense of self, of who one is. In the context of diversity, the term identity relates to the various cultural and social group memberships used by people to define, describe, or categorize themselves or others, including race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientations, abilities, socioeconomic status and age.

Multicultural: Means many or multiple cultures. The United States is multicultural because its population consists of people from many different cultures.

Name-Calling: The act of using words, including labels, jokes or other expressions, to describe, demean, taunt or verbally harass a person or group of people.

Prejudice: Prejudging or making a decision about a person or group of people without sufficient knowledge. Prejudicial thinking is frequently based on stereotypes.

Scapegoating: Blaming an individual or group for something based on that person or group’s identity when, in reality, the person or group is not responsible. Prejudicial thinking and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating.

Social Justice: Social justice is the principle that every individual and group is entitled to fair and equitable rights and participation in all aspects of society. The social justice movement seeks to ensure equity and the fair distribution of advantages, including social, educational, economic, civil, and political opportunities. Its focus is to increase understanding of oppression and inequality and to take action to overcome them.

“Race” means a group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution;

“Ethnicity” means affiliation with a group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution;

“National origin” means related to the country in which a person was born or from which the person’s ancestors came;

“Religion” means a system of faith and worship, especially such a system recognized and practiced by a particular church, sect or denomination;

“Sex” means the characteristics of structure and function that distinguish a male from a female organism;

“Disability” means an objectively measurable condition of impairment, physical or mental;

“Gender identity and expression” means a person’s actual or perceived gender-related characteristics, identity, or expression whether or not typically associated with the person’s sex at birth;

“Hate crimes data” means information, incident reports, records and statistics relating to hate crimes;

and

“Sexual orientation” means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.

Sources: "A World Of Difference® Institute Working Definitions." A Campus Of Difference™ Saint Mary's College              of California (2009): 191-93

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