Hate has no place on our campus. #NotatTU
Towson University strives to create a learning environment that is inclusive of diverse groups, ideas, and opinions and that is sensitive to individual rights of expression. The University promotes a campus community that allows for understanding and civility among those living, working, teaching, learning, and studying, while discussing, discovering, and debating different viewpoints.
Acts of destruction or violence which are motivated by animosity against a person or group because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability, national origin, or homelessness, or which infringe on the rights and freedom of others will not be tolerated at Towson University. The University will investigate and respond to all reports of hate crimes and bias incidents.
Reporting Hate Crimes & Bias Incidents
To foster a safe and inclusive campus, the University will investigate all incidents motivated by bias. In order to prompt an investigation, the incident must be reported. Anyone who feels that they have been a victim, who has witnessed, or who learns of a hate crime or bias incident can report the incident via the Hate Crimes & Bias Incident Report Form. You may also contact the Towson University Police (TUPD) for immediate assistance/reponse at 410-704-4444.
Incidents can also be reported by calling:
- University Police: 410-704-4444 (emergency); 410-704-2134 (non-emergency)
Office of Inclusion: 410-704-2346
For additional support in reporting an incident:
- Center for Student Diversity: 410-704-2051
- Department of Housing & Residence Life: 410-704-2516
- Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education: 410-704-2057
- Counseling Center: 410-704-2512
- International Student & Scholar Office: 410-704-2421
University Response to Reports of Hate Crimes & Bias Incidents
The person reporting the incident can expect a confirmation of receipt of their report within two business days. Once the report is made, a review will begin. The reviewing authority will be determined by the status of the persons involved as well as the nature and location of the incident. Investigations might include interviewing all involved parties and reviewing camera footage. University procedures are illustrated on the University Review Process Flowchart.
Towson University’s Police Department will determine if incidents are criminal in nature.
- The TU Police Department will respond within 5 business days of a report being acknowledged. TUPD may provide periodic updates regarding a report.
- The Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education will respond to incidents involving accused students within 5 business days of a report being acknowledged. This office may provide periodic updates regarding a report.
- The Office of Institutional Equity will respond to incidents involving accused faculty and/or staff within 5 business days of a report being acknowledged. This office may provide periodic updates regarding a report.
- The Department of Housing & Residence Life will assist in responding to incidents that occur in on-campus housing and/or that are in violation of housing policies.
- Towson University’s Counseling Center and Center for Student Diversity are available to provide additional support to those who have been impacted by an incident.
In cases of hate crimes, individuals can be punished with fines and/or imprisonment. Felony offenses demonstrated to be motivated by bias are subject to enhanced penalties.
In cases where a student is found responsible of a University policy violation, penalties may include: educational sanctions, probation, and/or suspension/expulsion. No-contact orders can be requested even if there is no finding of a violation of University policy. Please review the Code of Student Conduct for possible sanctions related to prohibited conduct.
In cases where a faculty or staff member is found responsible for a hate crime or bias incident, penalties may include transfer, unpaid suspension, or termination.
Any personal information obtained during the course of an investigation of a hate crime and/or bias incident will be handled with discretion and kept confidential to the greatest extent possible. At times, administrators or investigating police officers may need to share information with appropriate parties. For instance, if the behavior or language in question seems to stem from a misunderstanding or dispute between students, information may be shared with the alleged offender in order to address the matter expeditiously. Additionally, the University may respond to the incident with actions including - but not limited to - campus-wide programming, conversations with student leaders, and/or meetings with individuals and communities most impacted separate from and while the investigation is on-going.
What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person(s) or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias towards the actual or perceived group membership(s). Hate itself is not a crime and Towson University is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
Examples of hate crimes:
- Harassment characterized by sexual orientation bias: During finals week, a gay faculty member gets a series of phone calls in his on campus office. When he answers, the caller says that she hates gay people and then hangs up. On the third night, the caller says that the faculty member had better be careful because something terrible was about to happen to gay people at the school.
- Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property incident characterized by Religious bias: The on-campus office of the Arab-American Student Center contains both Arabic and English writing on the outside of the door. One night the office is vandalized, with Islamophobic threats and disparaging anti-Arab messages written in permanent marker on the door.
- Simple Assault characterized by National Origin: Two students are walking on campus, speaking Spanish. Five other white students surround them, shove them and throw them to the ground, shouting “You’re in America. This is our country. We speak English here! Go back to your own country if you don’t like it!”
What is a Bias Incident?
Bias incidents involve verbal, written, or physical behaviors which are not criminal offenses, but target a person because of their actual or perceived identity or group membership(s) and may be in violation of a University policy. This includes inflicting mental or emotional distress upon a person through a course of conduct involving abuse or disparagement of that person's actual or perceived identity or group membership(s). It is important to note that all hate crimes are bias incidents but not all bias incidents are hate crimes.
examples of bias incidents:
- A small group of students walking across campus late at night are singing/shouting songs. One song is a historical song that contains racist language and refers to lynching. Other students in the area hear these words.
- Two students are going through the residence hall late at night writing on people's white boards. They write on every board on one side of the hall. On some boards they write curse words, on others they write racial slurs. The students do not know who lives in these rooms- they are writing randomly on all doors.
- During class, a student made multiple statements about how she can’t stand people with disabilities, often using a derogatory term to refer to them. Another student in the class has a learning disability and told the professor this was making him uncomfortable. The professor spoke with the student and set the expectation that using derogatory language to refer to people with disabilities was unacceptable in the class. Though the student initially refrained from using derogatory language after this conversation, a few weeks later the student returned to making similar derogatory statements in class discussions.
What is Prohibited Conduct?
Sometimes it is unclear if an incident is motivated by bias, but a behavior may still violate University policies. Some examples of prohibited conduct include:
- Disruption or obstruction of university-sponsored activities or events;
- Off- campus conduct that is disorderly and disrupts others in the community;
- Abuse of any person; this includes written, e-mail, or telephone abuse or personal property of another; and
- Harassment of any person; and
- Other behaviors found in the Code of Student Conduct.
Public Information on Hate Crimes & Bias Incidents
Links to monthly reports on all reported hate crimes and bias incidents are provided below. Due to privacy laws, Towson University is not able to provide the name and specific sanction(s) related to incidents where an individual is found responsible for violating University Policy.
- Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education
- Department of Housing & Residence Life
- University Housing Policies
- Office of Inclusion
- Office of Institutional Equity
- Center for Student Diversity
- International Student and Scholar Office
- Towson University Police Department
- Towson University Police Department Monthly Reports
- State of Maryland Commission on Civil Rights’ Brochure “Maryland’s Response to Hate Crimes”
A special thank you to the Student Government Association who originally developed this page, in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs, as a means of increasing transparency around responses to hate crimes and bias incidents on campus.