Bias Response and Education Protocol

Report a bias incident

Students, faculty, and staff can report a bias incident.

Report an incident


Discrimination, Harassment, Bias and Other Related Responses

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Introduction and Value Statement

Central to our mission, Gettysburg College encourages and protects the free and open exchange of ideas and the communication of differing and challenging points of view as a vital part of campus discourse and experience, and as articulated in our Freedom of Expression Philosophy.

As a liberal-arts college that prepares students from across the nation and around the globe, Gettysburg College also is committed to diverse and inclusive living, learning, and working environments that sustain the “worth and dignity of all people”, as stated in our mission statement.

Any time we participate in a community of people with varying beliefs and ideas, conflict and disagreement can occur. Some actions or expressions, while not prohibited by College policy or law, may nonetheless involve prejudice or intolerance and may compromise our commitment to the worth and dignity of all people.

When members of the Gettysburg College campus community believe they have had or witnessed such an experience, they may choose to make the institution aware of it. Reports of bias incidents by definition do not violate College policy or law, but they can negatively affect the campus’s learning environment and, as a result, the College will responsibly and thoughtfully engage in addressing their damaging consequences. When bias is not consciously named and addressed, it can create a negative environment for those impacted and can escalate into more overt acts or patterns of discrimination.

Participation in the bias response process is voluntary but is recommended to help each of us better see how our words and actions may affect others. By enhancing mutual understanding, this process can advance a learning, working, and living environment that values differences and builds respectful engagement among people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.


We all operate with biases; some are explicit, and some are implicit. Bias refers to communication or behavior that is stereotypical, exclusionary, mocking, degrading, or invalidating, and usually related to actual or perceived affiliation to what are classified by law as protected classes: race, ethnicity, color, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin (including accent), age (40 or older), religion, veteran or military status, physical disability, mental disability, genetic and medical history, and/or any combination of these factors. This Bias Response and Education Protocol can also be used to address bias concerns arising from such traits as socioeconomic status, social class, first generation, possession of a General Education Development Certificate (as compared to a high-school diploma), immigration status, being a DACA recipient, or suggestions related to appearance or weight.

Bias and discrimination might seem similar at times, but unlike discrimination, which is unlawful and regulated, bias as defined in this protocol refers to those harmful events that do not represent violations of policies or laws and should be addressed through education, mediation or a restorative process. Bias can often be unintentional, as the research on implicit bias indicates, and may not be perceived as aggressive or disrespectful by the person(s) who engaged in the action or statement. For this reason, education is a primary and necessary response. Further, bias behavior may be anonymous or unknown, in terms of identifying responsible parties, in such examples as vandalism, graffiti, Zoom bombing or flyers that convey hateful messages or images. Even further, bias can be experienced by any member of the Gettysburg College community and can occur in multiple settings connected to work, the classroom, residential spaces, College-related or sponsored activities, or between college community members.

Reporting and Follow-Up Process

Reporting Link

Students, faculty, and staff can report a bias incident by following this link.

Who receives the reports?

When a bias report is submitted through the College’s online forms, it is initially reviewed by an intake team of confidential readers to determine whether the report describes a potential violation of law or policy that must be resolved through another process. These include violations of Civil Rights legislation that cover such aspects as Title IX protections against sex discrimination in educational programs and activities; Title VI protections against race, color, and national origin discrimination by recipients of federal funds; Title VII protections against discrimination in employment; potential violations of College policy included in the student, graduate student, faculty or employee handbooks; or serious threats to the reporting individual’s safety and security. If a bias report raises such a concern, the intake team will refer the report to the appropriate College personnel that may include: the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Civil Rights Compliance and Education, Human Resources Offices, the Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities, and Campus Safety. If the intake team cannot confirm the nature of the incident, a member of the team will contact the reporting party to request additional information. If the bias report raises a concern of bias that is not subject to another process, the report will proceed under this protocol.

The intake team of confidential readers consists of:

Who handles the follow-up from a report?

Once a report is confirmed by the intake team as not involving circumstances that must be addressed through other College policies or processes, this entry-level team is released from further involvement and a separate, representative group, the Bias Education and Response Team (BERT), is activated by the CDO.

BERT members are the individuals who will be directly involved in responding to a bias incident. As is the case with the intake team, BERT is a confidentiality-bound group of personnel that represent the interests of students, faculty, and staff. Membership in BERT is intentionally small to protect confidentiality. All community members involved in the process are required to maintain the confidentiality that is expected and uphold the integrity of the process.

BERT members are:

In the event that a BERT member has a conflict of interest or, for good cause, is unavailable to participate, that BERT member or the CDO may delegate another person to serve as a substitute.

How will the BERT respond?

Only those BERT members representing the constituencies involved in the report will be called upon. For example, if a report involves a student and a faculty member, only the College Life representative and the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs would meet with the CDO. This is the case to maintain the most limited access to the reports and protect confidentiality for all involved parties.

In addition, some incidents can be anonymous, in the sense of not knowing the identity of the individual(s) connected to the bias incident. In these cases, the reporting party will be contacted, if the individual establishes that preference, for guidance on educational supports. Finally, bias incidents will be classified by type or nature of bias incident, and general information about incidents (not including the identity of the persons involved) will be shared each semester with the community at large in a public-facing report for transparency.

BERT members assigned to the individual report will:

  • Confirm whether the reporting party wants to be contacted, and if so, proceed with next steps.
  • CDO will contact involved parties, request additional information, if necessary, and establish and maintain follow-up and ongoing communication with involved parties to address some of the available options, which include:
  • Harm reduction, meeting with the impacted party to further discuss and understand the incident and share restorative resources and procedures.
  • Educational conversation with the party(ies) identified in the report to provide the identified party(ies) with an opportunity to share their perspective, while also highlighting the impact of their statements or actions.
  • Mediation or restorative circle, if all parties agree, provision of a space to explore and discuss the impact of the incident by naming the harm, listening to one another, and educating on impact to improve individual and/or community relationships.

The goals and aims of the process are to educate and restore or improve relationships between the involved parties or within the campus community. The process may entail addressing the nature and impact of harmful expressions as a way to encourage understanding and generate meaningful educational experiences with lasting impact. The process is not disciplinary, and the BERT has no sanctioning authority.

What is a sample timeline of this process?

Generally, a reporting individual who indicates a desire to be contacted can expect an initial outreach from the CDO within 1-2 business days confirming that the report was received, as well as offering initial support and resources. Depending on the complexity of the incident, following up with all the parties and gathering information can take multiple days or weeks. The College aims to address these matters promptly, but its response is dependent upon the availability of the involved parties and the circumstances of the situation. In the initial outreach with the impacted party, a reasonable timeline will be discussed as well as the frequency of expected communication.

What other role does BERT fulfill on campus?

Documentation of types of bias events and educational resources provided, on a semester basis on a publicly available report.

As a full team, BERT meets monthly to track and categorize incidents to include in the public-facing report. Some considerations include:

  • Identifying emerging patterns and trends.
  • Assessing the potential impact of patterns and trends on the larger community.
  • Utilizing the information to inform training and educational initiatives such as teach-ins, events, campus speakers, and bias awareness programming.

BERT also shares this general, non-individually identifiable information with the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee and Inclusion & Belonging for further pro-active planning on educational needs and proposed activities. The Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee is a faculty, staff, and alumni group that is open to ongoing membership. Inclusion and Belonging is a student-serving unit consisting of the Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME), Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, International Student Services, and Religious & Spiritual Life.


For Employees:

For students:

Approved by President’s Council August 1, 2023