Bias-Related Incidents & Hate Crimes

A core value that flows from our Christ-centered mission is that we recognize the dignity and great worth of all people. Some issues that are contrary to this mission, and are not tolerated in our community, include bias-related incidents and hate crimes. Bias-related incidents can be any physical, spoken, visual or written acts of abuse, harassment, intimidation, vulgarity, or remarks of a personally destructive nature toward another person because of actual or perceived defining characteristics. This can occur whether the act is intentional or unintentional, or is directed toward an individual or group regarding: race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, religion, creed, age, national origin, citizenship status, workers' compensation status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, or any other status protected under applicable local, state, or federal law; or any other distinguishing characteristic protected by applicable non-discrimination law.

A hate crime occurs when a bias-related incident involves a criminal act being committed. These crimes may involve, but are not limited to: physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters. Some hate crimes may violate Oregon and/or federal law, which is also a breach of university policies.

Guidelines for Responding to Bias-Related Incidents and Hate Crimes

Responding to concerns and incidents may vary depending on the nature and severity of a specific situation. It can include instances of protected speech that may generate harm, thus requiring intervention with potentially limited consequences. Bias-related incidents need to be addressed because they harm individuals, undermine civility and the understanding of our community, or impede the educational process. Public discussion and education can promote awareness of prejudice and examination of the values that underlie the George Fox community. Incidents may be dealt with through the process of community accountability with appropriate sanctions.

Reporting and Resources

We strongly encourage reporting of any bias-related incidents or hate crimes. The next section in this handbook gives students a variety of options for reporting incidents, as well as ways to receive support and help.

Supporting the Student and Community

The University believes it is important to respond to a bias-related incident or hate crime with concern for the student(s) or other person(s) who have been targeted and the community as a whole. University personnel can assist the student or other person in documenting the event and explaining the options for addressing what has occurred. If the incident involves the violation of a University policy, there is a process for investigation and resolution. 

Appropriate assistance is available to students who are targeted. University officials strive to ensure that the affected student feels safe in her/his educational environment and may, if appropriate, adjust or change course schedules or take other appropriate measures to assist the student. The University official may also offer help documenting the event (i.e. taking photos of the offending material); help in talking with/filing a complaint with the police; assistance in arranging counseling or other forms of support; or help, as appropriate, in initiating mediation between the affected student or other person and the offender. If it is appropriate, the targeted individual may also elect to participate in a University sponsored discussion about the incident, if one is held.

When bias-related incidents or hate crimes occur on campus, they can strain the fabric of the community. University officials may consider what sort of communication about the incident is appropriate, taking into account various factors such as personal safety and confidentiality.

In some cases, public discussion about the incident can serve to educate the community and promote awareness of prejudice. Programs that address bias-related incidents can change a hateful incident into an opportunity for increased understanding and personal growth. In some cases, University officials may collaborate with other offices on campus and with students to decide to offer programs that include one or more of the following: discussions, open forums, panels, films, speakers, and other educational programming. Among other things, these events may serve to help the community understand and address what has occurred.

Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)

In addition to the response outlined in the Reporting & Resources section, the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) addresses issues relating to bias-related incidents and hate crimes. The BIRT aids in developing recommendations to help the Student Life Office determine if, when and how the community should be informed of a bias-related incident or hate crime that has occurred. They also discuss and implement appropriate educational and programming opportunities in response to an incident.

The BIRT is chaired by the Director of Intercultural Life and composed of the following members: University Pastor/Dean of Spiritual and Intercultural Life, Associate Vice President for Intercultural Engagement and Faculty Development or a faculty designee, a member of the residence life staff or community life designee, and/or the ASC VP for Multicultural Life. The chair may also invite other community members to be on the BIRT as appropriate. When an incident occurs, the BIRT convenes at the request of University personnel or a student affected by the incident.

Security Services may work with the BIRT in order to improve communication about incidents and their implications for groups and individuals within our community. The Newberg-Dundee Police Department may also be invited for discussion of bias-related incidents or hate crimes and may meet with the BIRT as appropriate.