What is a Bias Incident?

At Graceland University, we define bias motivated incidents as language or acts (including, but not limited to gestures) which target a person, group or property on the basis of perceived or actual gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, political affiliation, nationality or disability. Bias incidents may include such things as name calling, slurs, degrading language, graffiti, intimidation, coercion or harassment directed toward the targeted person or group.

Bias incidents are not tolerated at Graceland. Students, staff, faculty, vendors and contractors are strongly encouraged to report bias incidents (as defined in this document) to the university if they occur.

Examples of Bias Incidents

  1. Sexist or racist remarks in the classroom that are not within the context of discussing course content.
  2. Telling jokes that degrade a particular religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
  3. Email, text or social media communication that contains explicit and degrading references or photos.
  4. Symbols of hate, such a swastikas, posted or drawn in residence halls or hallways.
  5. Images that are displayed from a classroom or residential hall that intentionally or unintentionally display language or images that promote hostility, hate or harm to members of a specific identity group.
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Difference Between Bias Incidents and Otherwise Offensive Speech

As stated above, bias incidents are not tolerated at Graceland. At the same time, it must be remembered that just because a perspective or an idea may be offensive to someone, it is not necessarily bias-related. As an institution of higher learning, Graceland welcomes the open sharing of ideas, even when those may be conflicting or controversial. Not everything that offends us is motivated by bias, and much good can come from an open sharing of perspectives, even when those perspectives are contradictory. However, any language or behavior that is rooted in hate or devalues the worth of any person is not tolerated, and is in stark contradiction to our deepest values.

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How to Report a Bias Incident

A person may report a bias incident in one of two ways.

  1. In-person. Students may report bias incidents in person to the Dean of Students, Intercultural Office Director, Director of Residence Life, or Human Resources Director. Employees may report bias incidents in person to the Human Resources Director or the Vice President for Business and Finance.
    • The person receiving the report will become the process liaison with the student/employee. If the person making the report is a student, the process liaison will notify the Dean of Students within 72 hours of receiving the report.
  2. Online. If a person does not wish to make an in-person report, they may make a report online. An online report of a bias incident can be made by clicking on the button below.

Do I want to remain anonymous? It is possible to report a bias incident and remain anonymous. However, please be aware that Graceland may be limited in its ability to conduct a thorough investigation without the name and contact information of the person reporting the incident

What Happens After a Report is Made?

Any time that a bias incident is reported, the following occurs:

  1. Once the Dean of Students becomes aware of an alleged bias incident being reported by a student, he/she will initiate an investigation into the matter. If the alleged incident of bias occurred in the residence halls, the Residence Hall Director or her/his designee will conduct the investigation. If the reporting person is an employee, the Human Resources Director will initiate the investigation.
  2. Persons investigating bias incidents will, whenever possible, speak with all persons involved in the incident and will review all pertinent evidence available.
  3. Investigations will be completed in a timely manner, typically within 1-3 weeks.
  4. Consistent with other investigations at Graceland and other universities, a preponderance of evidence standard will be used in determining whether or not someone has committed a bias incident.
  5. Any student found to be in violation of committing a bias incident will be held accountable and will be sanctioned. Sanctions will vary according to the severity of the incident, and may include educational requirements, community service, fines, or dismissal from the university. If an employee is found to be in violation of committing a bias incident, they will be held accountable. Consequences will vary according to the severity of the incident, and may include training or disciplinary measures.
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What About Hate Crimes?

A hate crime is different than a bias incident. A hate crime is a criminal offense (such as vandalism, assault, etc.) that has been motivated by bias. To be specific, Congress and the Clery Act collectively define hate crimes as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, ethnicity, gender, religion, economic status, national origin, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

If a person is aware of a hate crime, they are encouraged to report it to the police. Students are also encouraged to report the matter to the Dean of Students and/or Campus Safety officer. Employees are encouraged to report the matter to the Human Resources Director and/or Campus Safety officer.