Muhlenberg College Hate/Bias Policy

 rev. 3/16/15

PREAMBLE

I.            Introduction

Muhlenberg College believes that diversity, in many forms and expressions, is essential to its educational mission and to its success as a community. Achieving our educational mission requires that we foster a campus environment that is free from bias incidents and hate crimes.

In laying out a policy on bias incidents and hate crimes, we are cognizant of the potential  tensions between this policy and concerns about academic freedom and freedom of speech. This policy outlines and affirms our commitment to educational environments that foster critical evaluations of the intersections of individual and community identities and values, contextualized within specific power structures.

II.         Muhlenberg College Statement on Diversity

Diversity, as affirmed in the College’s mission statement, is a fundamental Muhlenberg value. The College believes that deeply engaging with the multiple concerns, forms and expressions of diversity enriches the liberal arts education of all our students, prepares our graduates for lives of leadership and global citizenship, and enhances the quality of life on campus for all of our community members. We believe that the Muhlenberg community should cultivate a desire and an ability to understand, mutually respect, and meaningfully engage with manifold perspectives and experiences, particularly those of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. To this end, we are dedicated to:

  • an inclusive, innovative and evolving academic program that foregrounds human diversity and the experience and perspectives of these groups,
  • educational and professional opportunities for students, faculty members and staff members from these groups, and
  • good citizenship in the Lehigh Valley by supporting ongoing College-sponsored community outreach efforts, and by intentionally doing business with area vendors and service-providers operated by, fairly employing, and serving these groups.

Muhlenberg will not achieve its mission until each member of our community recognizes and understands the benefits, tensions and intersections inherent in teaching and learning about diversity. Doing so means that some community members, especially those from majority groups, may experience moments of disequilibrium. The College believes that these moments are productive opportunities for teaching and learning; they are consistent with Muhlenberg’s dedication to providing living, learning and working spaces that are safe and welcoming.

These commitments reflect Muhlenberg’s investment in principles of justice and equality. They assume a persistent and vigorous effort to confront and challenge prejudiced attitudes and behaviors that exclude, demean or marginalize members of our community. They also assume that success in engaging deeply with diversity must not lead to complacency, but instead, must inspire us to strive for an ongoing, ever-deepening integrity.

III.        Learning Environment and Community

Our educational mission demands that all members of our community treat each other with dignity and respect. Muhlenberg College aspires to evolve a reflective, global approach to its own power dynamics, and the ways in which historically, culturally, deeply ingrained marginalizations at the societal level impact all persons within our community, including students and employees. Through this policy, Muhlenberg will confront and discourage actions and attitudes that display bias or that harass or discriminate against any of our community members. Further, our learning environment is our own; we are all dependent upon our collective and individual efforts to see, act on, and prevent incidents of bias and hate.

IV.        Why This Policy Exists / What it Promotes

This policy seeks to empower the campus community to take ownership regarding the type of inclusive environment that we wish to uphold. Incidents of negative bias have direct impact on the entire community. This policy details what bias related incidents and hate crimes are, how and to whom you can report such incidents, and how Muhlenberg will respond. Although the policy details what to do and expect when a bias incident or hate crime occurs, we also hope that it educates -- working toward the eradication of bias incidents, no matter the scale.

V.         Academic Freedom

The College endorses the robust, stimulating and thought-provoking exchange of ideas, which requires in-depth and complex educational experiences as well as the space for divergent perspectives. We encourage our community to critically reflect on how asymmetric power dynamics may privilege and marginalize values, beliefs, and norms. Muhlenberg College endorses the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. These freedoms may directly challenge individual and group beliefs, values, and/or cultural norms. Grappling with new ideas is crucial to the development of complex thinkers and engaged citizens.

POLICY

Muhlenberg College prohibits all students, staff, and faculty from committing, or engaging in any bias incident or hate crime on campus, on College property, at College-sponsored events, or when engaged in College activities and business on or off campus.  This and other relevant policies provide guidance for individuals who believe they have been witnesses to or victims of such acts and who wish to report them and to seek redress and remediation.

Muhlenberg College is required to report hate crimes and hate/bias motivated crime incidents by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the “Clery Act”) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (“HEOA”).

This policy contains definitions for the terms “protected classes,” “hate crimes” and “bias incidents” and will identify reporting options/requirements and College responses. This policy outlines Muhlenberg College’s (the “College”) practices and procedures regarding bias incidents and hate crimes.  This policy supplements and does not supersede the College’s Social Code, the College’s Policy Statement on Discriminatory Harassment, and the student, faculty, managers and support staff handbooks.

Protected Classes

Protected classes include age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and any other legally protected basis.

Bias Incidents

Behaviors that constitute a violation of the College’s Social Code or other College policies and are an expression of hostility against a person or the property of another because of the person’s actual or perceived age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other legally protected basis.  Not all biased behavior rises to the level of a crime for which the offender may be prosecuted. Bias incidents may include, but are not limited to, acts, words (written or verbal) or conduct targeting a person or group.  Examples may include, but are not limited to, name calling, use of epithets, slurs or degrading language directed toward the targeted person or group, vandalism and other offenses against property involving graffiti or degrading images, threats or harassment.

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are not separate, distinct crimes, but rather criminal offenses under federal or state law that are motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias toward the targeted person’s or group’s inclusion in one of the protected classes defined above.  Hate itself is not a crime.

As there is always an underlying criminal offense involved in a hate crime, the perpetrator may be subject to criminal prosecution. Hate crimes may include sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, vandalism, domestic violence, stalking, dating violence or other destruction of property, or verbal threats of physical harm. Harassment or intimidation may also be a hate crime when used to deprive or interfere with a person’s exercise of civil rights.

The process for determining whether an incident is a crime, and possibly a hate crime, is a legal matter to be determined by law enforcement officials.

REPORTING

Why is it important to report a bias incident or hate crime?

By reporting the bias incident or hate crime, information you may:

  • help the College hold individuals who engage in acts of bias that violate the law or College policies accountable for their behavior. This could prevent further occurrences and protect other Muhlenberg College community members;
  • enable the College to offer support and resources to individuals or groups who have been targeted; and
  • enable the College to educate and inform the community about attitudes and practices that adversely affect campus climate.

Reporting Options for Students

Students who believe they have been a target of or witness to a bias incident or hate crime have several options for reporting such incidents or seeking counsel about such incidents. Reports may be made confidentially, though a decision to report confidentially may constrain the College from responding fully.  There may be incidents that, despite the request for confidentiality, require the College to take action.  Reporting options for students include:

  • Campus Safety –Students may report incidents to Campus Safety at 484-664-3110.  Students are encouraged to report incidents immediately and, when possible, preserve physical evidence (emails, text messages, graffiti, written statements, social media posts, etc.) related to the incident.  The Department of Campus Safety (“Campus Safety”) will conduct on-campus investigations, which may lead to disciplinary proceedings when applicable.  Campus Safety may be required under applicable law to report the incident to law enforcement authorities.
  • Dean of Students Office – Students may report incidents to the Dean of Students Office at 484-664-3182.  This Office must report incidents to Campus Safety.  Campus Safety will conduct on-campus investigations, which may lead to disciplinary proceedings when applicable.  Campus Safety may be required under applicable law to report the incident to law enforcement authorities.  
  • Confidential Resources – Students may report incidents and seek confidential counseling from the following resources, each of which can consult with students as they decide whether or not to pursue formal charges:
    • Counseling Services, 484-664-3178
    • Health Center, 484-664-3199
    • College Chaplain, 484-664-3120
    • Jewish Chaplain/Hillel Director, 484-664-3244

These individuals, under certain limited circumstances, may be required to report the incident to law enforcement authorities or Campus Safety.

  • Muhlenberg’s Bias Resource & Education Team (BRET)– Students may report incidents to any member of the Bias Resource & Education Team (the “Resource Team”).  The Resource Team is comprised of faculty, staff, and students who volunteer to serve in this role and who are appropriately trained. The Resource Team members are comprised of the following and are available to provide support and referrals:
    • Four Faculty;
    • One Administrative Manager;
    • Director of Multicultural Life;
    • Director of Residential Services;
    • Director of Athletics; and
    • Four Students selected by the members listed above.

The Resource Team, under certain circumstances, may be required under applicable law or College policy to report the incident to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.  For more information about the Bias Resource & Education Team click here: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/hatebiaspolicy/response-team.html

  • Director of Multicultural Life – Students may report incidents to the Director of Multicultural Life at 484-664-3228. The Director, under certain circumstances, may be required to report the incident to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.
  • The Incident Reporting Website – The Incident Reporting site provides a form for students to report hate/bias incidents.  Such reports will be reviewed by the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Human Resources.  They will not be anonymous, but can, in most instances, be treated as confidential.  Under certain circumstances, these incidents may be reported to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.

Reporting Options for Employees

Employees who believe they have been a target of or witness to a bias incident or hate crime have several options for reporting such incidents or seeking counsel about such incidents. Reports may be made confidentially, though a decision to report confidentially may constrain the College from responding fully.  There may be incidents that, despite the request for confidentiality, will require the College to take action.  Reporting options for employees include:

  • Campus Safety - Employees may report incidents to Campus Safety at 484-664-3110.  Employees are encouraged to report incidents immediately and, when possible, preserve physical evidence (emails, text messages, graffiti, written statements, social media posts, etc.) related to the incident.  The Department of Campus Safety (“Campus Safety”) will conduct on-campus investigations, which may lead to disciplinary proceedings when applicable.  Campus Safety may be required under applicable law to report the incident to law enforcement authorities.  
  • Muhlenberg’s Bias Resource & Education Team  (BRET)– Employees may report incidents to any member of the Bias Resource & Education Team (the “Resource Team”).  The Resource Team is comprised of faculty, staff, and students who volunteer to serve in this role and who are appropriately trained. The Resource Team members are comprised of the following and are available to provide support and referrals:
    • Four Faculty;
    • One Administrative Manager;
    • Director of Multicultural Life;
    • Director of Residential Services;
    • Director of Athletics; and
    • Four Students selected by the members listed above.

The Resource Team, under certain circumstances, may be required under applicable law or College policy to report the incident to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.  For more information about the Bias Resource & Education Team click here: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/hatebiaspolicy/response-team.html

  • Director of Multicultural Life – Employees may report incidents to the Director of Multicultural Life at 484-664-3228. The Director, under certain circumstances, may be required to report the incident to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.
  • The Incident Reporting Website – The Incident Reporting site provides a form for employees to report hate/bias incidents.  Such reports will be reviewed by the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Human Resources.  They will not be anonymous, but can, in most instances, be treated as confidential.  Under certain circumstances, these incidents may be reported to law enforcement authorities and/or Campus Safety.
  • Employees may report incidents to the Vice President for Human Resources at 484-664-3166.  If the employee believes that the VPHR is not in a position to respond objectively, s/he should report the incident to the President of the College at 484-664-3125.  If the employee believes that the President is not in a position to respond objectively, s/he should report the incident to the Chair of the Board of Trustees BoardChair@muhlenberg.edu .
  • Confidential Resources – Employees may report incidents and seek confidential counseling from the following resources, each of which can consult with employees as they decide whether or not to pursue formal charges:
    • Counseling Services, 484-664-3178
    • Health Center, 484-664-3199
    • College Chaplain, 484-664-3120
    • Jewish Chaplain/Hillel Director, 484-664-3244

These individuals, under certain limited circumstances, may be required to report the incident to law enforcement authorities or Campus Safety.

INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE/DISCIPLINE

Students

Bias incidents and hate crimes are investigated in accordance with applicable laws and the College’s Social Code (the “Social Code”).  Any student who is alleged to have violated this policy and/or the College’s Social Code may be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the Social Code.  Bias incidents and hate crimes will be reviewed on an individual basis and any student who is subsequently found to be in violation may be subject to sanctions set forth in the Social Code that may range from administrative warning to suspension or expulsion.  Any action that violates federal, state, or local law may also violate the College’s Social Code, and students may be subject to disciplinary action under the Social Code separate from criminal prosecution.

In College judicial proceedings under the Social Code, legal terms such as “guilt” and “innocence” are not generally applicable, and the College does not assume a student is in violation of College policy. College judicial proceedings under the Social Code are conducted in a manner to take into account the totality of all evidence available, from all relevant sources, and charges against someone accused of violating the Social Code must be established by a preponderance of the evidence.

The College reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of a bias incident or hate crime in order to protect students’ rights and personal safety.  Such measures may include, but are not limited to, interim suspension from campus and modification of living arrangements pending a hearing.  Other types of institutional responses may include community forums, educational programming, support for individuals, etc. 

Employees

Bias incidents and hate crimes are investigated in accordance with the College’s Policy Statement on Discriminatory Harassment.  Any employee alleged to have violated the Policy Statement on Discriminatory Harassment may be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in that policy.  http://www.muhlenberg.edu/media/contentassets/pdf/about/hr/harassment_policy.pdf.

The College's Problem Resolution and Complaint Procedures would apply and are found in the Faculty Handbook at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/media/contentassets/pdf/about/provost/handbook/faculty_handbook.pdf,

Managers Handbook at:

http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/hr/currentemployeesretirees/resourcespolicies/handbooks/managerhandbook/,

and Support Staff Handbook at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/hr/currentemployeesretirees/resourcespolicies/handbooks/supportstaffhandbook/).

Bias offenses will be reviewed on an individual basis, and the College reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from a verbal warning to termination of employment, depending on the severity of the offense.  Similarly, any action by employees that violates federal, state, or local law may also violate the College’s Policy Statement on Discriminatory Harassment, and employees may be subject to disciplinary action under that policy separate from criminal prosecution. The College will undertake all investigations with due regard to the privacy of all parties involved based upon the nature of the incident and in a manner consistent with a thorough and appropriate investigation.   Where necessary, the College will refer the matter to law enforcement or, under certain circumstances, the College may engage an independent investigator or consultant to investigate the complaint and provide guidance in handling the matter.  In the event that the bias incident and/or hate crime is investigated by a law enforcement agency, the investigation will be controlled and conducted by the law enforcement agency.  Other types of institutional responses may include community forums, educational programming, support for individuals, etc. 

COMMUNITY REPORTING

Incidents which pose a direct threat to members of the community will be reported to the community in a timely manner by the emergency message system (see below under Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations). 

The Vice President of Human Resources and the Dean of Students will meet monthly to collate bias incidents and hate crimes into one report. The report will contain a full accounting of bias incidents and hate crimes, with the exception of identifying information.  The report will be shared with the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee (“PDAC”) to analyze incidents, including pervasive, chronic, or systemic patterns of behavior, and to recommend institutional responses to the President.  The College will include summaries of this data in periodic campus climate reports to the Muhlenberg community.

FEDERAL STATISTICAL REPORTING OBLIGATIONS

Certain campus officials have a duty to report hate crimes for federal statistical reporting purposes under the Clery Act.  All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, but statistical information must be passed along to Campus Safety regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off-campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given) for publication in the College’s annual Campus Security Report.  This Report helps to provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime and to ensure greater community safety.  Under the Clery Act, mandated federal reporters include:  Advisors to Student Organizations, Greek Life/Leadership Staff, Campus Safety Personnel, Life Sports Center Building Monitors, Coaches/Athletic Directors, Office of Community Engagement, Dean of Students Office, Multicultural Center, Residence Life Staff, Student Advisors, Faculty with responsibilities for student and campus activities outside the classroom (i.e. advising and mentoring responsibilities), Student Activities Staff, and Student Union Office.  The information to be shared includes the date, the location of the incident (using Clery location categories) and the Clery crime category.  This reporting protects the identity of the parties and may be done anonymously.

FEDERAL TIMELY WARNING REPORTING OBLIGATIONS

College administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.  The College will make every effort to ensure that a targeted person’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing sufficient information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.  The reporters for timely warning purposes are the same as the mandated federal reporters under the Clery Act detailed at the end of the above paragraph.