Bias Incident Response Protocol

What is a Bias Incident?

A bias incident is an alleged act of discrimination or harassment that is directed toward an individual or group of individuals because of their age, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or veteran or military status, or any other legally protected groups.

A bias incident may be an alleged physical, spoken or written act of abuse, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and/or intimidation; a bias incident may also be an alleged restriction or prevention of free movement of an individual because of that individual’s protected personal characteristic.

What is a Hate Crime?

The State of California has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property, or interference with someone else’s civil rights, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.”

Offensive speech in and of itself is not a crime and is generally protected by the First Amendment, with some very limited exceptions. When an allegation of a hate crime is made on campus, the University Police Department (UPD) will respond and investigate.

What is Free Speech?

Free speech includes, but is not limited to, the right to:

  • Speak or not speak
  • Free expression
  • Protest war
  • Engage in hate speech
  • Use offensive words or phrases to convey political or controversial messages

Speech that promotes an unlawful end is excluded from First Amendment protection. For example, each of the following exceptions are very specifically and narrowly defined under the law:

  • Promoting actual violence or harm
  • Fighting words
  • True threats
  • Expression that constitutes criminal or severe harassment
  • Defamation
  • False advertising

What does the Bias Incident Response Team Do?

When an incident is reported to the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), some of the following actions may be taken by the BIRT (response times and steps will vary depending on the circumstances of the alleged incident):

  • Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer/Office of University Diversity and Inclusion will review the reported incident as promptly as possible, and will report the incident to the campus DHR Administrator/Title IX Coordinator in accordance with applicable executive orders
  • As appropriate, the Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer/Office of University Diversity and Inclusion will consult regularly with campus DHR Administrator/Title IX Coordinator, who will take appropriate action in accordance with applicable executive orders
  • Dean of Students will convene the BIRT
  • BIRT will review the incident and informally gather information surrounding the concerns of the campus community and the affected individual(s)
  • BIRT will refer reports to appropriate offices and campus administrators for further review, inquiry and response
  • BIRT will convene community leaders, if appropriate
  • BIRT will recommend action steps to campus leadership, including recommendations regarding release of responses/statements, when appropriate
  • BIRT will work with campus services, to provide outreach and support to students who are impacted by the incident
  • BIRT will make referrals to appropriate support services
  • BIRT will communicate outcomes to campus leadership
  • BIRT will communicate with person(s) who initially reported the incident

Related Content

Dean of Students

Dean of Students

The Office of the Dean of Students promotes student development and leadership; enhances student success and retention; and facilitates a respectful and inclusive campus.

Learn More

Diversity

Diversity and Inclusion

The Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity is committed to making excellence inclusive by embedding diversity and educational equity in all aspects of the university.

Learn More

Title IX

Title IX

Title IX protects students, employees and third-parties from discrimination based on sex, gender and sexual orientation in education programs and activities.

Learn More

University Police

University Police

Cal Poly’s University Police Department promotes a safe and secure learning environment by enforcing laws, preserving the peace, maintaining order and providing professional services.

Learn More

Ombuds

Student Ombuds Services

The Office of Student Ombuds Services offers a safe place for students to go for assistance in resolving any university related issue, concern, conflict or complaint.

Learn More