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Bias Incident Response Protocol

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Section 1:  INTRODUCTION                    

This protocol is intended to direct members of the Rider community to information that will provide direction on defining, understanding, identifying, and reporting bias-related incidents and/or hate crimes.

Rider University is committed to fostering an environment dedicated to learning and mutual respect, encouraging a sense of community characterized by civility, respect, equality, equity, inclusion, justice, accountability, and safety. This is reflected in the University’s mission, Statement of Community Values and the Inclusive Excellence Plan.

As part of the larger world and surrounding community, Rider is not immune to bias related incidents or hate crimes which may from time to time occur on campus or at University related activities and events off campus.  The University does not condone such incidents or behavior and will respond to such reports as per the Student Code of Social Conduct, Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, or other policies. Additionally, students, staff, administrators, and faculty are entitled to an employment and educational environment that is free of discriminatory harassment which is defined as unwelcome conduct by any member or group of our community on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a class protected by policy or law.

Section 2:  DEFINITIONS/QUESTIONS

What is a bias-related incident?

A bias-related incident constitutes an expression of hostility or intimidation, in words or actions, against a person or property of another because of the targeted person’s protected group status. As defined by the Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, protected group status is afforded based on race, religion, color, sex, pregnancy, residence, creed, ethnicity, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability (including perceived disability), age, marital status, family responsibility, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran or military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, or any other protected category under applicable local, state, or federal law.  

A bias-related incident may be a violation of Rider’s Student Code of Social Conduct, Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, or other policy. It is important to note, however, that behavior or expression may be considered inappropriate or disruptive without being a bias-related offense or policy violation. After a bias-related incident is reported, the incident will be referred to the appropriate office for review and evaluation.

There may be times when it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify the person responsible for the reported incident or behavior, or when the individual is someone external to the Rider community who is not subject to university policies.  There may also be times when the reported incident is ultimately determined not to be a policy violation.  None of these preclude the University from implementing an educational and supportive response. Counter-messaging, condemnations, dialogue, education and support in the form of such things as teach-ins, open forums and residence hall meetings are just a few examples of how the University can respond to hateful behavior and speech.

While it isn't always easy to recognize, bias can be present in the classroom, workplace, and media, and often stems from fear, misunderstanding, hatred, or stereotypes. Even when offenders are not aware of bias or do not intend to offend, bias may be revealed by an act that is worthy of a response and can serve as an opportunity for education.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is a criminal offense in which the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias. 

Bias Crimes are defined under N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1.  Pursuant to that statute, a person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if he/she commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit or threatens the immediate commission of an offense specified in chapters 11 through 18 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; N.J.S. 2C:33-4; N.J.S. 39-3; N.J.S. 2C:39-4 or N.J.S.2C:39-5,

  1. with the purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity; OR
  2. knowing that the conduct constituting the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, gender identify or expression and national origin.

In the United States, federal laws that inform responses to hate crimes include the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(2)), the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (28 U.S.C. § 994), and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (Division E of H.R. 2647).  In addition, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Protocol and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (20 U.S.C.§1092(f)) – also known as The Clery Act – defines hate crimes for the purposes of its reporting requirements. 

What differentiates bias-related incidents from hate crimes?

While bias-related incidents and hate crimes both involve behavior that is motivated by bias, there is an important distinction between the two. Hate crimes are criminal offenses motivated by bias. These crimes would be crimes even if not for the bias element.  A bias-related incident may not involve criminal behavior. It may be a violation of University policy or it may not. Not all biased or hateful behavior rises to the level of a crime or policy violation and not all crimes are hate crimes. 

Hate crimes include such offenses as:

  • physical attacks/assault
  • property damage
  • arson
  • homicide
  • terroristic threats
  • vandalism
  • sex offenses
  • robbery
  • burglary
  • theft

Bias-related incidents include such things as:

  • bullying based on perceived national origin
  • telling jokes based on stereotype or making a joke about a targeted person’s protected      class
  • using racial or ethnic slurs
  • making comments on social media about a targeted person’s protected class

Some bias incidents or hate crimes may involve hateful speech. Hateful speech, like all speech is protected by the First Amendment as long as it does not incite immediate violence. That does not mean, however, that it must be tolerated. Hate speech but can still cause real harm.

Although some people may feel anger, resentment, frustration, or discouragement in response to hateful speech, those feelings alone are not sufficient grounds to limit that speech. Effective responses to hateful speech include counter-messaging, condemnations, direct support to targeted individuals and groups, dialogue, and education.

Section 3:  REPORTING a Bias-Related Incident or Hate Crime

Where do I report if I feel that I have been witness to or have been a victim of a bias-related incident or hate crime?

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to report a bias-related incident or hate crime IMMEDIATELY by calling or visiting one of the following offices:

  • Department of Public Safety which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Public Safety can be contacted by phone at 609-896-5029 and is located at West House at the south entrance to campus.
  • Robert Stoto, Title IX Coordinator/Vice President for Human Resources & Affirmative Action; Moore Library, Room 108; 609-895-5683, [email protected]
  • Tom Johnson, Title IX Compliance Officer, Bart Luedeke Center, Room 113, 609-896-5000 ext. 7309, [email protected]
  • Cindy Threatt, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Bart Luedeke Center, Room 110, 609-896-5101, [email protected].
  • Online reporting is available at: rider.edu/offices-services/public-safety/reporting-responding-incidents-crimes

What information should I include in a report?

The sooner you report an incident, the greater likelihood that you will remember important information and details. You will likely be asked for the following information, but don’t let the absence of such information deter you from reporting.

  • A detailed account of the incident: who, what, where, how, and why. Include words that were spoken, gestures, and other behavior.
  • The names, descriptions, and contact information of those involved, including witnesses.
  • Any other relevant information such as photos, screen shots, communications, etc.

What if I am concerned about my safety as the result of reporting an incident?

Retaliation Prohibition

Rider University prohibits retaliation (including, but not limited to, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination) against any individual who reports a potential violation of a university policy or assists in providing information related to a report of a potential violation or violation of policy.

Supportive measures and assistance regarding bias-related incidents or hate crimes may be requested through Public Safety, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and the Title IX Compliance Officer.

What will happen when a report is received?

Following receipt of a report, the Title IX Coordinator, or designee, engages in an initial assessment as soon as possible.  The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, will determine, in consultation with other University officials as necessary, whether the report should be referred for further investigation and/or adjudication to the appropriate office/body as a violation of the Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination policy, the Student Code of Social Conduct, or other policies (e.g. related to employment matters). 

Where the responsible individual is not a member of the Rider community and therefore not subject to university policies, a decision may be made to identify the individual as a Persona Non Grata (PNG).  This means that the individual may not come to campus for any reason without express advance permission. 

Whether or not a reported incident involves a policy violation, the University may take other educational or supportive actions in response.  These can include counter-messaging, condemnations and targeted education, dialogue and support. 

The Title IX Coordinator or designee will circle back to the individual filing a report to let them know of the action taken by the University in response while also respecting the confidentiality and privacy of those involved. 

How will the privacy of those involved in the incident be respected?

Rider University will treat information that it receives as part of a report of a bias-related incident or hate crime in a manner that respects the privacy of those involved. In order to investigate the incident, the University may have to share information with those responsible for handling Rider’s response. Every effort will be made to share such information on a need to know basis only with trained individuals and, where possible, without personally identifying those involved. 

Individual and community safety considerations will be balanced with the privacy interests and confidentiality of all those involved, as well as the applicable legal requirements, when making decisions regarding investigations and disclosures. Therefore, there may be times when the University may not be able to honor confidentiality in order to provide a safe and/or non-discriminatory environment for all students, faculty and staff. When this is the case, the reporting individual will be notified of such a decision. 

What can I do to reduce the occurrence of bias-related incidents?

Bias-related behaviors can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, with your help. When you recognize an act of bias, first and foremost, your safety is the priority. If a situation arises where you feel comfortable safely interjecting or intervening, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Be Direct:  Tell the person their behavior or language is concerning or hurtful.
  • Ask:  Ask the person why they used that language or behavior.
  • Share:  Describe how that language/behavior makes you feel.
  • Distract:  Divert attention away from the problematic language to de-escalate a situation.
  • Group Support:  Recruit other people or friends to intervene together.
  • Show Support:  Let the impacted person know you are there for them.
  • Bring in Support:  If things become too serious, contact PUBLIC SAFETY.

Section 4:  Support and Resources

If you need more resources or would like support following a bias-related incident or hate crime, you can reach out to the following departments or agencies. These resources can be accessed when a report has been made or not.

Rider University Resources

Title IX Coordinator/Vice President for Human Resources & Affirmative Action
Robert Stoto
Moore Library, Room 108; 609-895-5683; [email protected]

Title IX Compliance Officer
Tom Johnson
Bart Luedeke Center, Room 113B; 609-895-5000 ext.7309; [email protected]

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students,
Cindy Threatt
Bart Luedeke Center, Room 110, 609-896-5101; [email protected]

Center for Diversity and Inclusion 
Bart Luedeke Center, Ground Floor; 609-895-5781

Counseling Center (Confidential)
Zoerner House, Lawrenceville campus; 609-896-5157

Additional Resources

PEN America

ADL

Rider University Center for Diversity and Inclusion Resource Page

Counseling Services