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Bias Incident Report

For bias-related acts in progress, call AU Police at 202-885-3636.

Use the Care Network report form (also found on the myAU portal under Life@AU) to report a bias incident and/or to express concern about a student. If you are reporting an act of bias, please review the following information.

What is bias?

Bias is the personal, unreasoned judgment or attitude that inclines an individual to treat someone negatively because of their real or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, or genetic information.

What is a bias-related act?

Bias-related acts are behaviors that express hostility against a person, property or group because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, or genetic information.

Bias acts may be verbal, graphic or physical in nature. These behaviors often contribute to creating an unsafe or unwelcoming environment for victims and social identity groups. Acts qualify as bias acts even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or a prank.

Examples of bias-related acts may include

  • Name calling; using a racial, ethnic or other slur to identify someone; or using degrading language
  • Creating racist or derogatory graffiti or images/drawings
  • Imitating someone with a disability, or imitating someone's cultural norm or practice
  • Making jokes or using stereotypes when talking to someone
  • Calling someone the n-word, f-word, or r-word in person, in writing, on social media, on whiteboards, etc.

What is a hate crime?

The District of Columbia's Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989 defines a bias-related crime (i.e., hate crime) as a criminal act and/or attempting, aiding, abetting, advising, inciting, conniving, or conspiring to commit a criminal act (such as arson, assault, burglary, injury to property, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, rape, robbery, theft, or unlawful entry) based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, physical disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of a victim of a criminal act. Hate crimes under various federal laws have similar definitions. Most speech is not a hate crime, regardless of how offensive it may be. 

What is the difference between a bias-related act and a hate crime?

Bias-related acts and hate crimes both involve behavior that is motivated by bias. However, there are important distinctions between them.

Bias-related acts area essentially prejudiced behaviors toward individuals because of their actual or perceived membership in a particular protected class. Even when offenders are not aware of bias or do not intend to offend others, bias may be revealed which is worthy of a response and an opportunity for education. Bias-related acts are antithetical to the University's values of fundamental human dignity and equality, and require the commitment of the University community to successfully address them. Many bias-related acts are not policy violations or hate crimes.

Hate crimes are also motivated by bias, but they include a definable crime such as a threat of violence, property damage, personal injury, or other illegal conduct. A hate crime is a violation of the law and will be investigated by University Police and/or other law enforcement agencies.

How will the University respond to a bias-related act?

Bias-related acts will generally be addressed through educational interventions unless the conduct is a violation of the University's Student Conduct Code or Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy and Guidelines. As explained above, not all acts of bias violate University policy. Students, staff and faculty who report bias-related acts can expect that their report will be acknowledged within 48 hours, and that a University official will be assigned to meet with the reporter to collect details of the bias-related act and to discuss options for addressing the behavior. In situations where the accused may be personally identified, privacy laws and confidentiality of student and employee records may prevent the University from disclosing specific details about the resolution of a complaint.

How will the university respond to a hate crime?

A hate crime is a violation of the law and will be investigated by University Police and/or other law enforcement agencies as necessary and appropriate. To report a hate crime, contact University Police at 202-885-3636. View a flowchart of the bias incident reporting process.

Questions?

Questions about filing a complaint and/or American University's procedures for addressing bias incidents may be addressed to the Office of the Dean of Students (202-885-3300 or dos@american.edu), Dean of Academic Affairs (202-885-2125 or deanofacademicaffairs@american.edu), or the Office of Human Resources (202-885-2607 or employeerelations@american.edu).

Care Network

The Care Network report form is also the place to notify the Dean of Students Office about students of concern. Faculty, staff and peers frequently observe signs of students in distress. You can play an important role by identifying students in distress and helping them to receive the assistance they need.

More About Care Network

Building an Inclusive Campus

American University is committed to ensuring that we are a community where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included.

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