Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Development

Bias-Related Incident Reporting

The essential nature of the University requires an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding of diverse groups, ideas, and opinions. Acts of destruction or violence which are racially, ethnically, religiously, and/or otherwise motivated against the person or property of others and which infringe on the rights and freedom of others will not be tolerated at Towson University.

It is the intent of Towson University to take an active role in promoting peace and harmony among diverse groups living, working, and studying within our campus community and to the extent possible to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors against incidents or criminal acts that would constitute hate/bias incidents or crimes. Click here file a report

The University will investigate all reported hate/bias incidents or crimes, as defined below. In those cases where a criminal law is violated, the person(s) responsible may be charged and recommended for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. If the offender is an employee or student of Towson University, they may also face administrative disciplinary action in accordance with University policy and procedures. Other cases that may violate the student code of conduct or employment policies will be handled according to established procedures (refer to the Student Code of Conduct or Towson University Policies Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Race, Color, Religion, Age, National Origin, Sex, Disability and Sexual Orientation).

Due to their unique nature, these incidents require a coordinated response from appropriate University administrators based on the nature of the incident and the status of the individuals involved (e.g. Student, Faculty, Staff, Visitor, etc.). In addition to prompt and thorough criminal and/or administrative investigations there may, in some instances, be a need to provide support for the victim(s) due to the emotional trauma that can result from these types of behavior, and/or, in some instances, there will be a need to communicate with the campus community to provide accurate and timely information, avoid rumors, and describe the University’s response to the incident.


The following criteria should be used in determining if an incident is of a bias nature. Some incidents may not clearly fit a specific definition.

A. Background

In determining whether an incident is to be reported as a bias act, any or all of the following criteria shall be applied:

  • A review of the totality of the circumstances
  • Motive
  • Display or expression of symbols, words or acts which are known to the
    victim, institution or group to represent a hate group or represent bias
    against the victim or institution
  • Victim's perception.
  • Statements of any suspects or witnesses.
  • Prior history of similar incidents in the same geographic area or against
    the same victim/s.
  • The demographics of the area.
  • As a law enforcement officer, what you know about the community
    where the incident occurred.

B. Motivation
Experience has shown that determining motivation is the most important factor when attempting to decide if an act is apparently directed toward members of protected classes. The motivation for someone to carry out bias acts can be influenced by many variables. As such, it is possible for there to be more than one motive for a perpetrator to commit such acts.

Is the motive known?

If the motive is not known, the following questions should be considered to aid in the determination of a verified incident:

  • Is the victim a member of a targeted racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group or is the victim homeless?
  • Were the offender and the victim of different racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation gender identity/expression group?
  • Would the incident have taken place if the victim and offender were of the same race, religion, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability group, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group or homelessness status?
  • Were biased oral comments, written statements, or gestures made by the offender which indicate his/her bias? For example the offender shouted a racial slur at the victim.
  • Were bias related drawings, markings, symbols, or graffiti left at the crime scene? For example, a swastika was painted on the door of a synagogue.
  • Were certain objects, items, or things which indicated bias used (e.g., the offenders wore white sheets with hoods covering their faces) or left behind by the offender(s) (e.g., a burning cross was left in front of the victim's residence)?
  • Is the victim a member of a racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group which is overwhelmingly outnumbered by members of another group in the neighborhood where the victim lives and the incident took place or is the victim homeless? This factor loses significance with the passage of time, e.g., it is most significant when the victim first moved into the neighborhood and becomes less significant as time passes without incident.
  • Was the victim visiting a neighborhood where previous hate crimes had been committed against other members of his/her racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression racial, group and where tensions remain high against his/her group or is the victim homeless?
  • Have several incidents occurred in the same locality, at or about the same time, and are the victims all of the same racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group or are the victims all homeless?
  • Does a substantial portion of the community where the crime occurred perceive that the incident was motivated by bias?
  • Was the victim engaged in activities promoting his/her racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group or homeless status? For example, the victim is a member of the NAACP, was participating in a gay rights demonstration, etc.
  • Did the incident coincide with a holiday relating to, or a date of particular significance to, a racial, religious, ethnic/national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression group (e.g., Martin Luther King Day, Rosh Hashanah, etc.)?
  • Was the offender previously involved in a similar hate crime or is he/she a member of a hate group?
  • Were there indications that a hate group was involved? For example, a hate group claimed responsibility for the crime or was active in the neighborhood.
  • Does a historically established animosity exist between the victim's group and the offender's group?
  • Is this incident similar to other known and documented cases of bias, particularly in this area?
  • Does it fit a similar modus operandi to these other incidents?
  • Has this victim been previously involved in similar situations?
  • Are the other explanations for the incident unreasonable such as a childish prank, unrelated vandalism, etc.?
  • Did the offender have some understanding of the impact his/her actions would have on the victim?

Reporting Hate/Bias Incidents:
The University requires a hate/bias incident or crime (see Appendix A) to be reported, investigated, and referred for any appropriate criminal and/or administrative sanctions. The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity will maintain current policies and procedures for responding to such complaints, as well as a file of reported incidents/crimes and responding actions.

Anyone who is a victim of or learns of a hate/bias incident can report this to any of the following offices on campus:

University Police

410-704-2133 (emergency)

410-704-2134 (non-emergency)

Center for Student Diversity 410-704-2051
Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity 410-704-2360
Office of Fair Practices 410-704-2361

Or by clicking here

For those incidents reported to the University Police, the final classifications will be made by the police who will then report the incidents to the Maryland State Police on a monthly basis as required by law. The incidents will also be documented on the Police Department’s web site as required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.


LGBT Student Development, Center for Student Diversity
University Union, Room 313 (map) (How to use the map link)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Phone: 410-704-2051
Fax: 410-704-4229

  • Queer Student Union (QSU)

  • LGBT Studies

  • LGBT Issues Committee

  • Sign up on Student ListServ




University Police

Closings & News
410-704-NEWS (6397)

Text Alerts
Sign up now