What is bias?
Bias is a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward an individual or a group of individuals who possess perceived common characteristics such as sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, military or veteran status, marital status, genetic information or any other protected characteristic.
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is an act directed toward an individual or group based upon actual or perceived common characteristics, as defined by the term bias above. A bias incident can constitute discrimination. These acts can create an unsafe or hostile environment or have a negative psychological, emotional or physical effect on an individual, group or community. Bias incidents may occur regardless of whether the act is legal, illegal, intentional or unintentional.
The severity of a bias incident, and the University’s response to these incidents, can vary based on factors including location, context and behavior, pre-meditation and whether the incident presents an impact to the University community. Any University response will follow University processes established as applicable.
How does this impact my freedom of speech?
The Bias Education Resource Team was not created to silence community members nor hinder on their right to free speech. The goal of the team is to encourage productive and respectful dialogue amongst community members across their areas of difference.
How does this impact my academic freedom as a faculty member?
The Bias Education Resource Team intends to help both students and faculty find language that will help them in engaging in challenging conversations both in and outside of the classroom. We recognize the classroom is the primary place for learning in our community and encourage faculty members to continue to utilize this space to challenge the thoughts and attitudes of their students as they learn the concepts required to be masters of their discipline
What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is defined as any crime that manifests evidence that a victim was selected because of actual or perceived race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or disability. A hate crime is not a separate, distinct crime but is the commission of a criminal offense that was motivated by the offender's bias. If the facts of the case indicate that the offender was motivated to commit the offense because of bias against the victim's perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sex, gender identity, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, beliefs, sexual orientation, age or any other protected personal characteristic, the crime is classified as a hate crime.
What is the difference between a bias incident and a hate crime?
A hate crime must meet two criteria:
- A crime must happen, such as physical assault, intimidation, arson or vandalism; and
- The crime must be motivated, in whole or in part, by bias.
Hate crimes, if charged and prosecuted, will be dealt with in the court system. They typically carry enhanced penalties, such as longer sentences.
Bias incidents can occur with no clear procedure for recourse within the criminal justice system but will be addressed within the University.
What is a microaggression?
"Microaggressions are the brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults that target a person or group. Perpetrators are usually unaware that they have engaged in an exchange that demeans the recipient of the communication." (Sue 2010: 5)* Microaggressions can only be directed at minorities or another non-dominant group. Three forms of microaggressions can be identified: microassault, microinsult and microinvalidation.
*Sue, Derald Wing. Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
Do you have bias?
Everyone has bias. Even people who have avowed commitments to impartiality. Are you aware of your biases? Harvard hosts an implicit bias test. The BERT encourages you to take it to better understand what bias you may have. Take the test.