Statement of Philosophy

Gettysburg College is committed to sustaining a living and learning community where all members of the community are respected and differences among us are celebrated. Bias-related behaviors are inconsistent with the mission, values and goals of Gettysburg College. In addition, these behaviors are hurtful to individuals and groups of individuals in our community. In its commitment to provide an environment conducive to learning, Gettysburg College will not condone behaviors that undermine an inclusive learning community. It should be noted that while the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a violation of law or College policy. Freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression do not protect personal threats or acts of misconduct that violate criminal law or College policy.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Hate Crime Overview

Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

Bias conduct and hate crimes both involve behavior that is motivated by bias. However, it is important to note the distinction between the two. Hate crimes include a definable crime, such as: threats of violence, property damage, personal injury and other illegal conduct. A hate crime is an infraction of the law and will be addressed accordingly.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) reviews each bias report. If it is determined that the act rises to the level of a hate crime, DPS officially informs the police for criminal investigation purposes. DPS may also investigate the incident for administrative purposes. During the investigation process, any incident that is determined to be a violation of College policy, such as harassment, may be adjudicated by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Please report suspected hate crimes to the Department of Public Safety at717.337.6911. These crimes will also be reported to the Gettysburg Police department for investigation and possible prosecution.

Policy Definitions

Gettysburg College prohibits the behaviors and conduct described below. Students who feel they have been the target of bias (or who have witnessed bias related conduct) may report the incident online, or contact the Dean of Students Office.

Inappropriate Bias Behaviors

An Inappropriate bias behavior is defined as an act (speech, written or verbal, or conduct) targeted at a person or group creating what the College deems an insensitive or unwelcoming environment on the basis of actual or perceived identity/expression, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability status. Inappropriate bias behaviors may consist of name calling, epithets, slurs, or degrading language, directed toward the targeted person or group. Inappropriate bias behaviors may occur whether the act is intentional or unintentional or is targeted at an individual or group. Acts may qualify as an inappropriate bias behavior even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or prank.

Examples might include, but are not limited to:

•  Theme parties that denigrate specific groups.

•  The intentional exposure of someone’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression when the person wants that information to remain unknown.

•  Name-calling, stereotyping, avoiding or excluding others based on perceived or actual identity

•  Derogatory jokes, verbal or written comments.

•  Racial, religious, or ethnic slurs, verbal or written comments about one’s sexual orientation or ability status.

Bias Conduct

Conduct that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, or discriminatory, is a conduct violation. When paired with inappropriate bias behaviors, it is a conduct violation in addition to  bias conduct. Bias conduct may take the form of but are not limited to the following:

1. Graffiti or degrading images

•  Use of sidewalk chalk, spray paint, markers, or any other utensil used to graffiti.

•  Anti-religious symbols, derogatory drawings, or pictures.

•  Exclusion from participation.

•  Threats or harassment.

•  Acts that create what the College deems an unsafe environment.

2. Hate Speech

•  Expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence.


For inappropriate bias behaviors and bias conduct violations, the College will take prompt action to investigate and resolve complaints.

Immediately report any Bias Related Conduct to Public Safety at (717) 337-6911, or the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students office at (717) 337-6921 or at

If you become the victim or target of a bias incident or witness any Bias Conduct, please do the following to document the incident the best you can:

  • If the incident was verbal, be sure to immediately document what was said, where it was said and when it was said, and if known, the name of the individual(s) responsible and present as witnesses.
  • If you see a written slur or discover graffiti, do not erase the words or images. The Department of Public Safety and the Gettysburg Police will need to see it in order to document and photograph.

Gettysburg College encourages prompt reporting of Bias-Related Conduct so an investigation of the alleged facts can be conducted to determine if College policy has been violated, including violations of the Student Code of Conduct. In addition, the College may refer complaints to law enforcement authorities in order to determine whether an independent investigation for violation(s) of criminal law is warranted.

Bias conduct is a violation of College policy and the College will investigate such incidents to determine if someone has violated our policy. Students found responsible are subject

to College sanctions (see page 24 for list of all possible sanctions). All reports of bias incidents/ conduct will be included in an annual report. This report, which does not include names, is intended as a reference for the community to track the number and types of incidents on campus. The Gettysburg College Diversity Commission and Student Life Committee will receive a regular summary of bias incidents occurring on campus from the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students. In addition, these incidents may be shared with the broader community as appropriate.

The College will respond in one of the following ways in consultation with the aggrieved party:

Violation Response Outcome
Inappropriate Bias Behaviors
  • Refer the incident for a Restorative Justice Conference (RJ).
  • Refer the incident to Student Rights and Responsibilities for formal adjudication.
  • Afford students who have been acting intolerably an opportunity to examine their behavior, learn from their mistakes, and begin the process of repairing their breach of our community’s trust and values.
  • In cases where RJ is used, all participants will help determine the relative facts and recommendation for the remedy (including sanction where appropriate). These recommendations will be submitted to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
Bias Conduct
  • Refer the incident to Student Rights & Responsibilities for formal adjudication.
  • Students accused of bias conduct (the respondent) will be referred to an Administrative Hearing or the Student Conduct Review Board for resolution.
  • If found responsible, sanctions can vary from educational and reflective in nature, to suspension/expulsion.
  • Afford students who have acted intolerably an opportunity to examine their behavior, and display that they have learn from their mistakes.


The College’s response to Bias Conduct will be coordinated by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students.

Resolution Process

The goals for resolving bias incidents are :1) to enhance the principles of openness, pluralism, inclusiveness, and democracy, 2) to restore for targets and witnesses a sense of safety and repair to one’s sense of community, 3) to be educative rather than simply punitive, 4) to model for the community at large effective approaches for addressing and interrupting bias, and 5) to restore and maintain a discriminatory and bias free environment for all members of the campus community.

In cases where bias behaviors are not violations of Code of Conduct or any other applicable policy, the College Life Office or the Bias Education & Advisory Council will serve as primary coordinators for seeking resolution. Approaches to resolving incidents may include but are not limited to: a restorative justice conference, mediation between target(s) and perpetrator(s), organizing community forums, community service requirement, etc.

Reporting Options and Resource

Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students (717) 337-6921

Additional campus resources include but are not limited to:

Health and Counseling Services (717) 337-6960 Intercultural Resource Center (717) 337-6311

Residence Life (717) 337-6901

Student Rights and Responsibilities (717) 337-6907

Women’s Center (717) 337-6099

Where can I learn more?

* Some material adapted from Syracuse University, Lehigh University, Dickinson College, and the University of Virginia. Adopted by the Student Life Committee on February 13, 2013 for implementation on August 1, 2013.