Bias Related Conduct Policy

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.  Hate and bias-related incidents are inconsistent with the mission, values and goals of Gettysburg College.  In addition, they are hurtful to individuals and groups of individuals in our community.  In its commitment to providing an environment conducive to learning, Gettysburg College condemns acts of hate and bigotry and will work with members of the community to address any such issues.

Gettysburg College defines "Bias Related Conduct" to include hate crimes, harassment and bias incidents.  The definitions of each are outlined below, as is a description of the response by Gettysburg College to a report of any Bias Related Conduct.  In addition to investigating any such report to determine whether there has been a violation of College policy and working with the police to determine if a crime has occurred, the College will offer appropriate support, outreach and education to any College community member impacted by a hate crime, harassment or a bias incident.  This will include, but is certainly not limited to, access to Counseling Services, residential accommodations, and facilitated community discussions when appropriate.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime* is any crime of violence, property damage or threat that in whole, or in part, is motivated by the offender's bias toward the victim's race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.

Hate crimes are defined at both the federal and state level.  Federal hate crimes are investigated by the FBI.  For more information on federal hate crimes, please see the FBI's website.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has hate crime statutes. Hate crimes also violate College policy.

A federal law, the Clery Act, provides that timely notice of certain crimes reported to campus security or local police must be provided to the Campus Community; the College abides by this federal statute and its notice provisions with respect to all covered crimes, including those involving bias related conduct.

What is harassment?

Gettysburg College's student Harassment Policy:

Gettysburg College is committed to treating all members of the College community in an equitable manner, providing an environment that permits students to attain their educational goals without interference stemming from harassment.  Gettysburg College explicitly prohibits any form of illegal discriminatory harassment by any College community member, organization or group.

Harassment includes physical, verbal, graphic, or written conduct (including harassment via e-mail, instant messenger, text messaging or other electronic means), that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to unreasonably interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the programs, services, activities or privileges provided by the College.

Harassment is discriminatory if the conduct is based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, or disability.  It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to engage in harassment or to retaliate against anyone bringing a complaint of harassment, formal or informal, anyone involved in the Complaint process, anyone who pursues legal action, or anyone participating in an investigation into allegations of harassment (including witnesses). 

Stalking is also a form of harassment and a violation of the harassment policy. Stalking is defined by Gettysburg College as the act of pursuing, following or observing an individual in a persistent fashion (including but not limited to, cyber-stalking or an stalking via electronic means) that unreasonably interferes with or limits the ability of that individual to participate in or benefit from the programs, services, activities or privileges provided by the College.

Harassment 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.  As stated above, harassment has two parts:  actions based on actual or perceived race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, or disability AND the actions must substantially interfere with a student's educational or employment opportunities.

What is a bias incident?

For the purposes of this Policy, a bias incident involves behavior (whether physical or verbal) that is motivated by bias based on actual or perceived race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability, but that does not rise to the level of a hate crime or a violation of College policy. 

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.  Gettysburg College values and embraces the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, all of which must be vitally sustained in a community of scholars.   The College recognizes that these freedoms protect controversial ideas, differing views and sometimes even offensive and hurtful words that are not consistent with the College's mission.  However, freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression do not protect personal threats or acts of misconduct that violate criminal law or College policy.

As outlined in the beginning of this document, any reports of a bias incident will be investigated. The College will offer appropriate support, outreach and education to any College community member impacted by a hate crime, harassment or a bias incident. 

The Gettysburg College Diversity Commission 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.

What will Gettysburg College do when Bias Related Conduct is reported?

Gettysburg College encourages prompt reporting of any Bias Related Conduct so that it can investigate the alleged facts for possible violation(s) of College policy, including the Student Code of Conduct, and refer complaints to law enforcement authorities in order to determine whether an independent investigation for violation(s) of criminal law is warranted. 

Gettysburg College community members reporting Bias Related Conduct can expect the following:

  • Meet with a college official promptly
  • Treat your concern with respect
  • Take every case seriously
  • Discuss all of your options
  • Gather and preserve evidence and information
  • Connect you with a faculty member, administrator or staff member to provide support
  • Work with the Gettysburg Police to investigate whether or not a crime has occurred
  • Initiate the College's student conduct process if it appears that a policy violation may have occurred

The College's response to Bias Related Conduct (bias incidents, harassment and hate crimes) will be coordinated by the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students.  The Dean of Students may convene a Bias Incident Response Team that will include the following members of the College community:

Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students

Vice Provost

Director of Counseling

Dean of Intercultural Advancement

Director of Residence Life

Director of Safety and Security

Other members of the community, including students, may be invited as appropriate.

What should I do if I believe I am the victim of, or a witness to, any Bias Related Conduct?

Students should immediately report any Bias Related Conduct (bias incidents, harassment or hate crimes) to Safety and Security at (717) 337-6911, or the Dean of Students office at (717) 337-6921.

If you become the victim of a Bias Related Conduct (hate crime, harassment, or bias incident) - racial or otherwise - or witness any Bias Related Conduct, please do the following to document the incident the best you can:

  • 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.
  • If the incident was verbal, be sure to immediately document what was said, where it was said and when it was said.
  • Get names and contact information of any witnesses.

Where can I go to ask questions and seek support?

Health and Counseling Services                                      (717) 337-6960

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

Residence Life                                                              (717) 337-6901

Student Rights and Responsibilities                                 (717) 337-6900

Intercultural Resource Center                                          (717) 337-6311

Women's Center                                                            (717) 337-6099

Africana Studies Department                                            (717) 337-6796

Where can I learn more?

http://www.stophate.org/

http://www.tolerance.org/

*Definition taken from "Hate Crimes: The Problem and Efforts to Confront It" prepared by the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence at the University of Southern Maine under contract with Community Research Associates, Inc.

Some material adapted from Lehigh University and the University of Virginia.  Adopted by the Student Life Committee on December 5, 2007 for implementation on January 1, 2008.