What is a Bias Incident?
A bias incident involves conduct (including speech or expression that is not protected by federal or state law) that is directed toward an individual or group based on the individual’s or group’s actual or perceived protected category. The College of New Jersey Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace/Educational Environment identifies the protected categories that could be the basis of a bias incident, including identities such as race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, or religion.
How and when should a bias incident be reported?
If you witness or directly experience a bias incident or hate crime, or find evidence of a bias incident or hate crime on The College of New Jersey campus, you should immediately report it. You should contact TCNJ Campus Police at 609-771-2345 in the case of a hate crime (particularly if there appears to be an imminent threat even if you are not sure that it meets the elements of a hate crime). You can file an online Bias Incident Report for a bias incident or a hate crime (which the BRT would then report to Campus Police). The Bias Incident Report is one of a number of avenues for reporting potential violations or concerns (see: https://compliance.tcnj.edu/reporting-a-violation/). The online Bias Incident Report is a reporting method for members of our community to share their experiences with us. Even if you’re not sure if what you witnessed or experienced was bias-related, we still want to hear from you.
Bias incidents should be reported as soon as possible. This allows for a timely response on behalf of the College so that the matter can be promptly addressed and the affected parties can be directed to appropriate resources. Reporting and documenting bias acts can help TCNJ better understand the reality of the campus climate related to discrimination. The College encourages individuals to report bias acts so that it can provide support and achieve an appropriate resolution.
What happens after an incident is reported?
The College’s response to a bias incident report may be impacted by various factors, including the nature and severity of the complaint, available evidence, parties involved (i.e. faculty, student, staff or other), reporting individual’s wishes, impact on the campus community, and College’s obligations under the law.
- Once a bias incident report is submitted, the members of the Bias Response Team are immediately notified.
- The BRT will meet (generally within one to two business days of receiving the complaint) to determine appropriate next steps. The matter could be referred to any one or more of the following: Campus Police, the Office of Student Conduct, Title IX Office, or the College EEO Officer. If the initial report is made to one of those offices rather than to the BRT, the information that office can share with the BRT may be limited. In all instances the College will reach out to the reporting party to offer support services and gather additional information.
- After receiving a bias incident report, the Bias Response Team will determine its next course of action, which may include:
- Ensuring that appropriate College officials and other individuals, groups or organizations are notified and consulted, to provide context necessary to consider the report of a bias incident.
- Meeting with the reporting person, if the reporting person chooses and if it does not interfere with investigatory or adjudicatory processes at the College (e.g., Student Conduct, Title IX, EEO or Human Resources).
- If the reported act is determined to be a bias incident, considering appropriate educational measures to address the incident (separate and apart from any sanctions resulting from a judicial proceeding or disciplinary measures taken pursuant to Student Conduct, Title IX, EEO or Human Resources processes). Such measures could include notifying the community of the bias incident as appropriate and specifically subject to applicable privacy laws and practices (which generally restrict the dissemination of personally identifiable information). This notice might be distributed via e-mail, web site, posters, and/or other means of communication. The notice might be made following a particular incident or as part of a periodic report to the campus community. In deciding what sort of notice is appropriate and from whom the notice should come, the full context of the incident must be considered. It may also be determined that campus-wide notification of an individual incident is not appropriate and that a greater educational value would result by communicating about the incident in a different context, or that notification in a particular case would not serve any educational purpose. Another appropriate response could be educational programming within a targeted area or to a targeted group of individuals (e.g., a specific building community) where the incident occurred or for the campus more broadly.
What is Bias Intimidation (and is it a “hate crime”)?
People often refer to bias incidents or, at least, some bias incidents as “hate crimes.” New Jersey’s criminal law includes a specific crime called “bias intimidation,” which is considered New Jersey’s hate crime law. Under the bias intimidation statute, it is crime to intimidate or to act in a way that a person knows will intimidate an individual or group because of their inclusion in a protected category while committing another crime.
Hate crimes – or bias intimidation — are matters for law enforcement and can be reported to Campus Police or other local law enforcement and, if the BRT or the office that is investigating (Office of Student Conduct, Title IX, EEO or Human Resources) believes that a matter may involve bias intimidation, that office will report it to Campus Police. While all bias intimidation crimes are, by definition, bias incidents, not all bias incidents are bias intimidation crimes or crimes at all. Nevertheless, such (non-crime) bias incidents may violate other laws or College policy. The College encourages the reporting of all bias incidents, whether they constitute bias intimidation crimes or not.
What is TCNJ’s official policy on Bias Incidents?
Bias-motivated behaviors that violate provisions of the TCNJ Student Conduct Code, Title IX Policy, Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace/Educational Environment of Conduct or New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or other College policy or state or federal law will be addressed through the College’s disciplinary process and/or the courts. Discriminatory or bias-motivated behaviors that violate neither the law nor the Code of Conduct can be addressed through a conflict-resolution process.
What records are kept of Bias Incidents?
The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will maintain a record of reported bias incidents and will provide a yearly summary of reported incidents. Records of reported incidents will be maintained to identify patterns of reported bias on campus.