Bias-motivated crimes/harassment are targeted acts committed against a person or their property because of that person’s real or perceived race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Bias-related crimes/harassment differ from other acts in that their effects go beyond the attacked individual. These type of acts often affect an entire community of people who identify with the targeted social group.
Laws covering more severe bias-related crimes exist at both the state and national level. If you would like to know more specific information about how the laws are interpreted, refer to Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Law, the 1994 Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and the 2009 Federal Matthew Shepard Act.
Bias-related incidents that violate University policy are considerably more common on college campuses than federal or state crimes. University policies relating to students, faculty, and staff exist to create a safe environment for learning, work, and research. Take some time to familiarize yourself with University policies on staff/faculty and student behavior. A person who you believe to be a victim of a bias-motivated act will likely experience a wide range of emotions and benefit from a thoughtful, caring response.
If you suspect someone is a victim of a bias-motivated crime/harassment or witness a hate crime on campus:
- Ask to see the student in private.
- Be aware that the individual may be experiencing a wide range of emotions including shame, anger, fear, and denial.
- Advise the person to contact Institutional Equity, 906-487-3310.
- If a student is involved, be sure to report the incident to the Dean of Students Office, 906-487-2212.
- If you are unsure whether the incident is criminal in nature, advise the person that they may report the incident to Public Safety and Police Services, 906-487-2216.
- Volunteer to accompany the individual if he/she is uncomfortable with reporting the incident alone.
- Try to explain or get caught up in the technical differences between a hate crime and harassment. These differences are generally immaterial to the feelings being experienced by the person and his/her need for support and information.
- Minimize the situation or indiscriminately share information about the crime or incident with others without the permission of the person.
- Express personal biases.
This page was adapted with permission from material developed by the University of California, Santa Barbara.