Policy Prohibiting Bias Acts
Union College is committed to providing a safe living and learning environment in which every person is valued and respected, inclusion is assured, and free expression and debate are encouraged. The College accepts the task of educating the next generation of leaders to understand and appreciate the ideas and opinions generated by an increasingly global community. This policy establishes a mechanism for addressing situations involving a real or perceived bias act. In such an instance, the College desires to proceed thoughtfully, providing support to all of those affected, while also affirming that Union values differences, free expression, and debate as sources of strength for the College community.
A conscious or unconscious preference for or prejudice against a person or group of people, motivated in whole or in part an actual or perceived aspect of diversity, including, but not limited to, age, ancestry or ethnicity, color, creed, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, height, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or weight.
Under New York State Hate Crimes Law (Article 485 of the Penal Law), sentencing enhancements are applied to 53 different crimes, such as threats of violence, a physical or violent attack, property damage, when one could reasonably and prudently conclude that the criminal offense or attempted criminal offense is motivated, in whole or in part, by the alleged offender’s bias against an individual’s actual or perceived age, ancestry or ethnicity, color, creed, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, height, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or weight.
Incident of Bias
Under Union’s specific definition, a bias incident is action taken that one could reasonably and prudently conclude is motivated by, in whole or in part, whether the act is intentional or unintentional or may be based on the alleged offender’s bias against an actual or perceived aspect of diversity, including, but not limited to, age, ancestry or ethnicity, color, creed, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, height, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or weight. The College understands that unintentional bias related incidents occur and will take an educational (non-disciplinary) approach to resolve the matter, where possible. Intentional bias related incidents may be handed through the student disciplinary system.
Some examples of bias  include, but are not limited to the following:
1. Racial and Ethnic Stereotype Theme Parties. Student organizations and Greek letter organizations that host theme parties or Halloween parties that encourage people to wear costumes and act out in ways that reinforce stereotypes create a campus climate that is hostile to racial and ethnic minority groups.
2. Bias in the Classroom. Professors who make pejorative comments or stereotypes about a protected class of people (e.g., females, religious minorities, racial minority groups, or people with disabilities) are also guilty of committing a bias incident. Because of the power dynamics that exist between students and professors, students may be reluctant about confronting the professor about the offense fearing that is may negatively affect their grade in the class.
3. Harassing Comments in the Work Place. Making sexual comments, jokes, or gestures may create a hostile work environment. Even displaying pictures and items that convey sexually inappropriate messages may also contribute to the climate in the work place. Various people can be negatively affected by these comments and images, including bystanders.
 From Davidson College
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between an incident of bias and a hate crime?
While all hate crimes are forms of bias acts, not all bias acts are hate crimes. A bias act is conduct that is prohibited by our institutional policies, whereas a “hate crime” refers to sentencing enhancements that are applied to certain types of criminal activity that is motivated by bias. For example, writing a racial slur on a white board would be considered a bias act at the College, but would not be considered a hate crime since the conduct does not satisfy one of the crimes listed under New York State Hate Crime Law (i.e. writing on a white board is not, in and of itself, a crime).
Will I be told the outcome of a bias incident report that I make?
If you are the individual who was targeted by the bias act, depending upon the nature of the conduct, you may have the right to know the outcome of the investigation or Conduct Code decision if you elect to proceed with a complaint. If you made the report as a witness or are asked to participate in the investigation as a witness, you are not entitled to know the outcome. Both the person who experienced an act of bias and the person alleged of bias acts are entitled to have their student or employee records kept confidential. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that prohibits institutions from sharing identifying information from confidential records, including disciplinary records, unless it is under very limited circumstances when a party is found responsible for a crime of violence that by its nature involved substantial risk that physical force against the complainant was used in committing the offense, in which case notification may be permitted.
Are bias incidents reported out to the College community?
In accordance with the Clery Act, Campus Safety is responsible for issuing a Campus Crime Alert when a crime is reported to or brought to the attention of the Campus Safety or other campus security authorities (CSAs) and that crime represents a serious or ongoing threat to the safety of members of the campus community (e.g. the reported crime occurred on campus or on public property immediately adjacent to Union College). If there is not an ongoing threat to the safety of members of the campus community, the community is not notified at-large.
Is the BASE Team involved in the investigation or adjudication of bias reports?
No, the BASE Team as a unit is not involved in the investigation or adjudication of bias reports. The Director of Equal Opportunity, who sits on the BASE Team, is the only individual from the BASE Team involved in adjudication matters involving employees and the Director of Community Standards is the only member of the BASE Team involved in matters involving students. Reports of bias that are made or matters that are adjudicated are not shared with the BASE Team.
What is the College's procedure for investigating bias incidents that are reported?
The procedures governing student misconduct or acts of bias can be found in the Student Handbook’s Policy Prohibiting Bias Acts. Procedures governing employee misconduct or acts of bias can be found in the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Bias and Retaliation in Employment.
I am not sure if what I witnessed was considered a bias act. Should I still file a report?
Yes, all reports that are received by the College are evaluated through an intake process. If the College identifies that the conduct reported is a form of misconduct but is not a violation of our bias policy, the reported will be appropriately reallocated. Further, just because conduct may not be a violation of our institutional policy does not mean it was consistent with our institutional values. Reporting conduct can help support awareness and educational efforts.
Can I file a report anonymously?
If you are an employee who is a supervisor or manager, you cannot file an anonymous report under New York State’s Supervisor Responsibility Law.
If you are a student, you can file an anonymous report.
Some helpful information to assist you in determining if reporting anonymously is right for you:
- Although a report is received anonymously, the College may have to move forward to address the concern and the respondent may assume the reporter’s name due to the nature of the complaint.
- You will not receive updates on the status of the case and / or if action has been taken.
- You will not be offered a chance to participate in any other part of the process (e.g., formal investigation).
- Depending on the information reported, the College may be limited in its response. For information about how the different reporting methods can made a difference in our ability to gather information see section directly below.
- Due to limitations in collecting information from you, the College may not be able to resolve the concerns through your desired resolution.
If you determine reporting anonymously is right for you, please review this portion to determine what may be the best method for you to report anonymously:
- Reporting anonymously online does not allow for additional questions to be asked, which can limit the College’s ability to respond.
Who can I speak with if I have any further questions?
You can email the BASE team directly.