Center for Diversity and Inclusion

First Amendment Rights

Michigan Technological University is a diverse community of and for scholars. This community requires an environment of trust and openness where productive work, teaching, and learning can thrive. The University recognizes the necessity of protecting First Amendment rights and encouraging free speech, but also recognizes that certain conduct can threaten the mutual respect that is the foundation of scholarly communities. Our policies are intended to secure the freedom of expression guaranteed by the United States Constitution while maintaining the trust and mutual respect that are vital to a diverse university community. (Board of Trustees Policy 5.1)

University Policies

Michigan Tech strives to develop a diverse community that ensures equal access, opportunity, participation, free inquiry, and representation for all. However, on occasion,  bias related incidents and behaviors of community members can have a negative impact on others. These exchanges reduce the opportunities for a respectful conversation to share our perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

Michigan Tech takes these incidents and behaviors seriously. If you believe a bias related incident has occurred there are several options for reporting.

Submit a concern HERE or you may report the concern in person to the following offices:

Center for Diversity and Inclusion

Dean of Students Office

The Office of Academic and Community Conduct

Institutional Equity

If a report is received, our primary goal is to determine if a bias related incident has occurred, assess harm, and develop appropriate strategies to repair that harm.

Bias and Bias Related Incidents

Bias is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people who possess common physical characteristics or cultural experiences

Bias Related Incidents:
  • A bias related  incident is any conduct, speech, or expression, motivated in whole or in part by bias or prejudice that is meant to intimidate, demean, mock, degrade, or marginalize, individuals or groups based on that individual or group’s actual or perceived: disability and ability, age, geographic background, citizenship or immigration status, ethnicity, race, sex, color, gender, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, parenting and pregnancy status, religion, veteran status, first generation status, or socioeconomic status.
  • Often, bias-related incidents are broadly or generally directed to an individual or group of individuals or include an action that, while disturbing and could cause negative consequences such as the loss of mutual respect, is not criminal or a University policy violation, and also could be protected under the first amendment.

Hate Crime

According to the United State Department of Justice, the first federal hate crimes statute was enacted in 1968. The statute made it a crime to use, or threaten to use, force to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education, employment, jury service, travel, or the enjoyment of public accommodations, or helping another person to do so. In 2006, new federal protections were added against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Within the state of Michigan, a person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously threatens or physically contacts a person with intent to intimidate, harass, or damage the property of that person because of that person’s race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.

In an emergency, dial 911.

If you believe you have experienced a hate crime, you may report it directly to the Department of Public Safety and Police Services at 487-2216

How to Respond to Incidents of Bias & Hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center recommends Four Steps From Inaction To Intervention

Public harassment or hate violence can occur unexpectedly in virtually any location. It may be on a bus, at school, at a shopping center, in a park or at any number of other public spaces. The unpredictable nature of such harassment can leave us feeling unprepared when an incident occurs. If you remember four key points, however, you can effectively respond.

  1. Know What Public Harassment Looks Like. Understanding that harassment is happening – and why it’s happening – is the first step toward effective intervention. Recognize that harassment exists on a spectrum of actions ranging from hurtful comments and gestures to violence. The type of bigotry fueling the harassment can also run the gamut. Racism, sexism, ageism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia or religious discrimination are a few examples.
  2. Be Aware Of Your Identity Before Taking Action. Look at who you are – or who you are perceived to be – at the intersection of race, sex, religion, color, gender, size, orientation, ability, age and origin. Awareness is important because a harasser may target you for your identity. In other words, your direct intervention could escalate the situation. If you share the same identity as the person committing the harassment, if you wield some authority, or if you are otherwise part of the dominant culture, your identity may allow you to de-escalate the situation by speaking to the harasser or intervening in a manner in which others are unable. Whatever your identity, it’s important to tap into your experiences to effectively respond. Remember a time when you may have been targeted for harassment or hate violence. It may have been last week or when you were younger and bullied in school. By reflecting on your own experiences, you will be able to empathize with the person targeted, which is important for effective intervention. Just as you may not have been able to respond when you were targeted, it’s important to remember that the person targeted may feel the same way. And if nobody came to your aid, you should remember what you would have wanted a bystander to do. If you have never been harassed, imagine what it might feel like to be targeted. What would you want someone to do? If you know someone who has been harassed, tap into their experiences when you encounter an incident. These measures can help prepare you to act when you might otherwise find yourself on the sidelines.
  3. Recognize Your Blocks, Or Reasons Why You May Not Intervene. We all have such blocks. Sometimes we’re scared. Other times, we may feel we can’t make a difference – even if we act. We may believe it’s simply not our problem, especially if no one else is doing anything. We might minimize the harassment or not even recognize the behavior as harassment. (A list examining some of the most common blocks – and why we should still take action – are examined elsewhere in this guide.) Whatever reasons stand in your way, the most important thing is to be aware of your blocks before choosing one of “The Five Ds of Bystander Intervention” that works for you.
  4. When An Incident Occurs, Choose One Of “The Five D’s Of Bystander Intervention.” Each of the Ds offers a clear path of action. They include the following:
  • Direct: “That’s not cool.” Directly address the incident or harasser by stating that what’s happening is inappropriate or disrespectful. Direct intervention has many risks; exercise it with caution and assess the situation for your safety first;
  • Distract: “Hey, what time is it?” Use distraction to stop the incident. The goal is to interrupt the incident by engaging the person being targeted and ignoring the harasser;
  • Delegate: “Can I get your help over here?” Ask for help from a third party like a manager in the store, a driver on the bus, or a faculty or staff member on campus;
  • Delay: “Are you OK?” If you can’t take action in the moment, you can make a difference afterward by checking on the people targeted. Ask how you can help and share resources for advocacy groups and reporting;
  • Document: “I’m recording this.” It can be really helpful to record an incident as it happens, but there are a number of things to keep in mind to safely and responsibly document harassment. Assess the situation. Is anyone helping the person being harassed? If not, use one of the four steps above. If someone else is already helping, assess your own safety. If you are safe, start recording and keep the following tips in mind:
    • Keep a safe distance from the incident, make your video easy to verify by including landmarks like a street sign, clearly state the date and time on the video, and always ask the person harassed what they would like to do with the recording.
    • Never livestream the video or post it online without the person’s permission. Using a video without consent can make the person targeted feel more powerless.

Adapted from the Southern Poverty Law Center