Hate & Bias Prevention Support & Education

TU is dedicated to creating a diverse space where all feel welcomed and to strengthening our efforts to fight hate and bigotry. We continue to develop our response and prevention efforts to best meet the needs of our diverse community. All reports and incidents of hate/bias are taken seriously with a focus on providing support to affected parties. We ask that all members of our community embrace the challenge of speaking up and seeking help in the face of hate and bias.

OIIE Statement on US politics

At this time, it is vital to acknowledge the impact of politics on the reported increase of hate crimes & bias incidents happening across our nation. We understand how passionately we all feel at this very charged time. TU encourages discourse, conversation and space for having dialogue around beliefs and opinions. When in these spaces, please know that language that supports hate and bias does not add to the discussion, but rather it limits it. As a member of the TU community, there are resources available to help have a challenging conversation between family, friends, professors and others. Communication is vital during this time, and please do not hesitate to reach out to us as we are here to help.

TU 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 TU. The University will investigate and respond to all reports of hate crimes and bias incidents.

Education Resources and Opportunities

The Alternative Resolution Process (ARP) provides students and student groups with a pathway to resolving interpersonal conflict and empowers all parties to participate fully in the accountability process. When students agree to participate in an ARP, they engage in dialogue about the harm that has been caused, the impact of that harm, and what needs to be done to repair the harm. The ARP is designed using a restorative philosophy which supports accountability that is formulated WITH involved parties.

Reporting Hate Crimes and 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. If you have been a victim, or have witnessed or learned of a hate crime or bias incident, you can file a report using the Hate Crimes & Bias Incident Report Form.

You may also contact the Towson University Police Department for immediate assistance and response at 410-704-4444 or you can contact OIIE via email  or phone 410-704-0203 to report a hate crime or bias incident.

For Additional Support 

Public Information on Hate Crimes & Bias Incidents 

Due to privacy laws, TU is not able to provide the name and specific sanction(s) related to incidents where an individual is found responsible for violating University Policy. For more information please contact us via email at BiasResponse@towson.edu or phone 410-704-0203.

Hate Crimes & Bias Incidents Reported

Month Bias Incidents Hate Crimes
January - -
February 4 -
March 8 -
April 2 -
May 3 -
June 33 -
July 3 -
August 6 -
September 4 -
October 3 -
2020 Total 66 -

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.

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 (PDF) 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.

Confidentiality

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.

FAQs

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person(s) or property, 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 TU is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

What is a bias incident?

Bias incidents involve verbal, written, or physical behaviors that are not criminal offenses but target a person because of their actual or perceived identity or group membership(s) and may violate 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.

What is Prohibited Conduct?

Sometimes it is unclear if bias is the motivation behind an incident, but the behavior may still violate University policies. Some examples of prohibited conduct include but are not limited to; 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 (PDF).

What if I am not sure if what happened to me is a bias incident or hate crime?

If you have had an experience where you feel targeted for who you are, and you are unsure what to do, reach out to our office via email or phone, and we will help you take the next steps if needed or direct you to resources for further support. It is important to remember if it made you feel unsafe, there are people here to help. You can also file an official report even if you are unsure, and we will contact you for further information.

What happens after I file a report?

Once you have filed an official report, someone from our office will be in contact with you within 72 hours to obtain further information.

What if I have not heard from someone in 72 hours?

If you have filed an OFFICIAL report and have not heard from someone after 72 hours, please email us at  or call 410-704-0203.

When my meeting to talk about the event has been scheduled can I have someone with me?

You are allowed to have a support person with you during your meeting with our office to discuss your experience. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions asked and your feelings, we encourage that this person is someone you trust and makes you more comfortable. You should discuss with this person your experience before you meet with us. While we would prefer to hear from you as much as possible about your experience, we understand having support is vital to talking about unsafe experiences.

What does it mean if my case is considered “inactionable”?

When a case is deemed inactionable it means the event does not violate policy or the law. This means that the event will not result in traditional consequences for the offender such as suspension, expulsion, or arrest.

Does “inactionable” mean that what happened doesn’t matter?

No, if we cannot address the incident as a policy violation, that does not invalidate how you feel or mean that nothing further can happen. Our focus is on providing support for you, which can come in the form of participating in alternative resolution practices, counseling, and continuing to discuss the event to assess other steps. The point is what happens to you MATTERS and that does not change for us regardless of the outcome.

Why are we “protecting” people who cause harm?

As a public institution, TU must follow state and federal laws around hate and bias incidents. It may look like providing “protection” or limited consequences to people who have caused harm. We acknowledge that this is a problem and we continue to focus on providing support while following our obligations and requirements as a state institution. It also means that university policy can change based on changes to state and federal law. We work hard to stay informed and ensure that our policies reflect changes as they come. Our focus is on providing an accessible environment to all members of our community, and this sometimes means individuals who have controversial beliefs that differ from the majority. We know this is not an acceptable response for many people, so we encourage ongoing action through political engagement, advocacy and awareness of changing laws.

Contact Information

Coordinator for Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

 
Mercedes Hightower, MSW, LCSW-C
Location
Administration Building
Suite 214 (Map)
Hours
Monday to Friday
8:30 AM to 5 PM