Bias Reporting Process
Georgetown University has a rich tradition of embracing people from a wide spectrum of differing identities, including faith, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and gender diversity, ability, socioeconomic status, and backgrounds. The University considers acts of hate and bias unacceptable and antithetical to its commitment as an inclusive and respectful community.
The purpose of the Bias Reporting System is to document and respond to bias-related incidents experienced by community members, including students, faculty, staff/AAPs, and to provide affected community members with support and resources. Through the Bias Reporting System, Georgetown tracks and reviews bias-related incidents, offers resources to impacted community members, identifies opportunities for educational programming, and shares information with reporting individuals regarding options for next steps. Reporting bias may lead to both informal and formal actions in response to concerns identified, including an investigation, following which the University can hold accountable individuals found to have violated a University policy.
Please be aware, however, that while the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a bias-related incident. The University values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas and, in particular, the expression of controversial ideas and differing views is a vital part of the University discourse. While this value of openness protects controversial ideas, it does not protect harassment or expressions of bias or hate aimed at individuals, where such expression violates University policies.
Bias: Bias is a prejudice for or against something or someone, usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair.
Bias-related incident: The term ‘bias related’ refers to language and/or behaviors which demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, others’ actual or perceived: color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, national origin, race, and religion, and sexual orientation. Examples may include defacement of posters or signs, intimidating comments or online messages, vandalism to personal or university property, or similar acts, if there is evidence that the target or victim was chosen because of a characteristic such as those listed above.
Bias reporting team (BRT): The Bias Reporting Team includes trained professionals from the Office of Student Equity & Inclusion (including the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access), LGBTQ Resource Center, Women’s Center, Office of Residential Living, Office of Mission & Ministry, and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, & Affirmative Action (IDEAA).
Harassment: Harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of a Protected Category as specified above, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of: unreasonably interfering with an individual or third party’s academic or work performance; creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual or third party’s academic or employment opportunities. Harassment may include, but is not limited to: verbal abuse or ridicule, including slurs, epithets, and stereotyping; offensive jokes and comments; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, and displaying or distributing offensive materials, writings, graffiti, or pictures. Harassment may include conduct carried out through the internet, email, social media, or other electronic means. Protected Categories include: age, color, disability, family responsibilities, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin and accent, personal appearance, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran’s status or other factors prohibited by federal and/or District of Columbia law.
Hate Crime: In the District of Columbia, a hate or “bias-related” crime is a criminal act that demonstrates an accused’s prejudice against the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibility, physical handicap, matriculation, or political affiliation.
Hate Speech: “Hate Speech” is a term defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on an aspect of identity, such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”
“Hate speech” is not defined by the Code of Student Conduct or the Speech and Expression policy. Georgetown University prohibits expression that violates the law, falsely defames a specific individual, constitutes a genuine threat, violates the University’s Harassment Policy, or unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests. As an academic community, Georgetown University is dedicated to open expression and the free exchange of ideas, yet also acknowledges that, while vitriolic speech about groups of people may be protected, this type of expression runs counter to our institutional values of inclusion and belonging for all members of our community.
Response to Bias Reports
- Reporting. Bias incidents may be reported through the bias reporting form.
- Acknowledgment of receipt of bias report. Within three business days of the receipt of a report, a BRT member will review the report and provide the reporting individual the following:
- confirmation that the bias report has been received and recorded;
- an opportunity to speak with a BRT member about the incident;
- information about support and other resources; and
- notice of options, including the option to file a formal complaint.
- Response to bias report. In consultation with the reporting party, a BRT member will determine whether at least one of the following options may be used in response to the reported incident:
- Conversation. A BRT member may discuss the report with the individual alleged to have engaged in a bias incident.
- Mediation/facilitated conversation. A BRT member may facilitate a voluntary conversation between the reporting individual and the individual alleged to have engaged in a bias incident. The parties would not be required to meet in-person.
- Educational programming. Training and/or educational resources may be offered to the individual(s) involved in the bias incident, on a voluntary basis.
- Restorative practices. Where both the reporting individual and the individual alleged to have engaged in a bias incident express an interest in the use of restorative practices to respond to a reported incident, trained community members may be assigned to utilize restorative practices to facilitate healing and understanding following a bias incident.
- Referral to formal University process. In instances where the reported conduct may pose a threat to the health or safety of community members, or where conduct may constitute a violation of a University policy, the matter may be referred to the appropriate University office. Individuals may also choose to file a formal complaint with University offices such as the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action
- Institutional responses. Depending upon the nature of an incident, action from the university might be necessary, such as removal of graffiti, notice to the community, and offering supportive resources and assistance for impacted communities.
- No further action. The reporting individual or the BRT may determine that no further action is necessary; the BRT will evaluate the reported conduct to ensure that additional action is not needed.
- Coordination with Speech and Expression Committee. Where bias reports present complex issues regarding speech and expression, the BRT may consult with the Speech and Expression Committee about a bias report to determine whether the conduct could violate the University’s Speech and Expression Policy, or may be protected under the Speech and Expression Policy.
- Notification of response. At the conclusion of the BRT’s response to a bias report, the BRT will provide to the individuals involved in the incident who participated in the bias reporting process notice of the BRT’s response.
Analysis of Bias Reports and Hate Crimes
- Statistics related to bias reports are included on the Bias Reporting System website as aggregate data.
- Each semester, the BRT meets to review de-identified, aggregate data to assess the response to bias reports, identify patterns, if any, and determine whether additional action is needed.
- De-identified, aggregate data also is provided to appropriate University units for compliance reporting purposes.