What is a Bias Related Incident?

Any member of the university community can make a report about a possible bias related incident.

The Code of Student Conduct defines a 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, religion, and/ or sexual orientation.

By its very nature, bias will be deemed an aggravating circumstance to any violation of the Code of Student Conduct, regardless of its category. Consequently, bias-related violations will result in a more serious action up to, and including, permanent separation from the University.

Examples may include defacement of posters or signs, intimidating comments or 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.

Please be aware, however, that just because 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 that violate the Code of Student Conduct.

To better understand the University’s approach to assuring free expression and its limits, you are encouraged to consult the University’s Speech and Expression Policy.

In addition, because much communication occurs electronically, there are specific policies relating to the use of technology on campus. Please see the Georgetown University Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy.

What Is a 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 Crimes Are Against the Law and Must Be Reported

In 1989, the District of Columbia enacted a law to address the problem of hate crimes committed in DC. The law, entitled “The Bias-Related Crimes Act of 1989” (DC Code §§ 22-4001 to 22-4004), provides for increased penalties whenever a crime is motivated by bias or hate.

The law also mandates that police in the District of Columbia collect data on bias-related acts and that the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia publish an annual report regarding the number and type of bias-related crimes reported in the District.

In addition, federal law mandates that colleges and universities annually report certain crimes that occur on campus or near campus. The crimes must be reported as hate crimes if they manifest evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. Hate crimes that are reported through this process are murder, sex offenses (both forcible or nonforcible), robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, manslaughter (negligent and non-negligent), arson, and any other crime involving bodily injury that manifests evidence that it is a hate crime as described above.

It is important to report any incident that you believe may be criminal and may be motivated by hate or bias. You should make these reports by using the Bias Reporting System.