Bias: This policy defines bias as prejudice in favor of or against one person or group as compared to another, usually in a way considered to be unfair or unjust.

Bias Incidents: These are behaviors or actions carried out against a person or group of people because of their membership in or association with one or more Protected Categories. Bias incidents can be motivated by ignorance, fear, dislike or hatred towards members of Protected Categories. They include, but are not limited to, graffiti, jokes, direct insults, and they may include behaviors that do not, in themselves, constitute breaches of institutional conduct policies or violate state or federal law.

Discriminatory Conduct

The following two categories of bias incidents are considered violations of this policy:

Discrimination: Discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently because of their real or perceived membership in one or more of the Protected Categories, and that treatment adversely affects an individual’s right to participate in and/or receive the benefits of the College’s programs or activities, or adversely affects the terms or conditions of an individual’s employment.

  • Examples: 
    • A student with a disability who does not receive approved academic accommodations
    • A faculty member giving a student a lower grade because of their race


Harassment: Harassment is a form of discrimination based on the real or perceived membership in one or more of the Protected Categories in which behavior or communication creates an intimidating or hostile environment, or has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance. Harassing behaviors include but are not limited to, unwelcome statements, jokes, gestures, pictures, or other conduct that offends, demeans or intimidates others based on their membership in or association with one or more of the Protected Categories. The behavior may involve a single serious and offensive incident or may involve persistent behavior. Persistent behavior may be created when a person fails to stop the behavior that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive especially after they have been asked to stop the behavior. These behaviors may form the basis of a harassment claim if a reasonable person, in view of all the surrounding circumstances, would consider it sufficiently offensive to interfere unreasonably with academic, other educational, or employment performance or participation in a College activity or living environment. Behaviors alleged to be harassment will be evaluated by considering the totality of the particular circumstances, including, without limitation, the nature, frequency, intensity, location, context, and duration of the questioned behavior.

  • Examples: 
    • Making continuous sexual remarks about a person’s appearance 
    • Making offensive jokes about a staff member’s gender identity 

Protected speech: This policy is not intended to stifle respectful dialogue, robust discussion, or intellectual debate, all of which are critical components of a rigorous liberal arts education. The College expects that the learning environment may challenge, and at times cause discomfort for, its participants as new ideas and ways of thinking are exchanged. Consistent with the College’s commitment to academic freedom, speech, visual and/or oral demonstrations, depictions or conduct that occur within a legitimate pedagogical context do not violate this policy. Specifically, this policy provides protection for the following forms of speech. However, these forms of speech are strongly discouraged for employees in a workplace environment. 

(a) Speech that conveys reasoned opinion or principled conviction is not considered bias. Of course, the mere claim of engagement in reasoned opinion is not sufficient to lift the complaint of bias. Debates, discussions, arguments – however lively – do not typically provide grounds for discrimination and harassment charges.

(b) Political commentary and satire are not bias. Again, however, the mere claim of political commentary or satire cannot excuse what is really bias. 

(c) Speech that occurs in the ordinary discussion of course content and teaching is protected.That is, any opinion has to be allowed for discussion and even advocacy in the classroom. 

Offensive or insulting language directed toward a particular person or group based on real or perceived membership in one or more Protected Categories, and unrelated to the academic content of the class, might, however, be deemed bias.

Hate Crime: A hate crime is defined as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity,” including skin color and national origin. Hate crimes are overt acts that can include acts of violence against persons or property, violation or deprivation of civil rights, certain "true threats," or acts of intimidation, or conspiracy to commit these crimes.

  • Examples: 
    • Vandalizing a person's car based on sexual orientation 
    • Threatening violence against a faculty member based on their race


  • Micro-aggressions are defined as “the brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual-orientation, and religious slights and insults."
    • Examples: 
      • Saying “oh that’s so gay”
      • Body language displaying discomfort around a BIPOC individual
  • Microassaults: Conscious and intentional actions or slurs, such as using racial epithets, displaying swastikas or deliberately serving a white person before a person of color in a restaurant.
  • Microinsults: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demeans a person’s racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a colleague of color how she/he/they got their job, implying they may have gotten through an affirmative action or quota system.
  • Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, white people often ask Asian-Americans where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land.
  • Macroaggressions: A macroaggression is an act of racism towards everyone of a race, gender or group.