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Bias is:

Any physical, spoken or written act of abuse, violence, harassment, intimidation, extortion, use of vulgarity, cursing, making remarks of a personally destructive nature toward another person, and any restriction or prevention of free movement of an individual.

Bias occurs whether that act is intentional or unintentional, and is directed toward an individual, group, property, or an institution based on race, color, creed/religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, political or religious ideology, gender, identity, gender expression or other qualitites that are central to an individual's identity.*

*Definition courtesy of University of Oregon Bias Response Team

What are Hate Crimes?

A Hate Crime is when someone commits an act that rises to the legal definition of a crime, while expressing the same biases listed above. (For instance, a perpetrator damaging property by writing racist graffiti, assaulting a person while using racial or homophobic epithets, etc.)

Hate Speech and Free Speech

An area of concern, but one which is particularly difficult for universities to deal with, is the area of “Hate Speech.” This area is difficult because of the nation’s deep commitment to free speech  and all universities’ particular focus on free speech as a major component in the university learning environment. We believe that we can both maintain respect for free speech and engage a fruitful concern for “hate speech.” With this in mind, we define Hate Speech as:

Hate speech is speech, text, images (written/spoken) presented in public that are designed to incite hatred, violence, contempt, or severe ridicule towards, or to intimidate or create terror or fear among members of racial, religious, or other groups (such as sexual minorities).

Having an ongoing discussion of what constitutes bias and hate speech, in the context of the preservation of free speech, is an imperative part of the process of creating and maintaining a just and inclusive learning community. 

Impact of Hate & Bias Incidents

Hate crimes and bias incidents are different from other kinds of crimes/incidents in that they are meant to be “message crimes/acts.” That is, they often target an individual, but they are meant as a message to the whole group to which the target belongs. The perpetrator is attempting to send an intimidating message that the target/group is unwelcome or unwanted. As such, acts of bias and hate crimes are an assault on a community that values inclusion, diversity and social justice. Such acts may make not just the target, but also group members and others, feel at risk of danger and/or unwanted in the larger community.

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