BIAS INCIDENT RESPONSE – LAW SCHOOL
Any time student members of the Suffolk University community feel belittled, disrespected, marginalized, threatened, or unsafe because of who they are, the entire University community is diminished. This Policy against Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes articulates the University's position that bias incidents and hate crimes have no place at Suffolk University and will not be tolerated. This protocol uses the term "bias incident" and "hate crime" to refer to behavior that, whether or not criminal, constitutes a violation of behavioral standards and policies of Suffolk University Law School. Students alleged to have violated this policy are subject to discipline in accordance with the Law School Rules, Regulations and Policies, and, if found responsible, may face sanctions up to and including suspension or dismissal from the University. Students are also subject to state and federal laws for criminal behavior regarding hate crimes.
Bias Incident:A bias incident is an act of conduct, speech or expression to which a bias motive is evident as a contributing factor (regardless of whether the act is criminal). Bias incidents take many forms—words, signs, symbols, threats or actions—and may take place in electronic or real-time contexts. They may include intimidation, vandalism, destruction of property or expressions of hate or hostility. They have an adverse impact on our learning environment that is inclusive of all. Bias incidents can cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others or endanger the health, safety or welfare of anyone in the University community. They are directed toward an individual or group because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or Vietnam-era or disabled veteran status.
Hate Crime: A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person, which is motivated in whole or in part by the alleged perpetrator's bias against a race, religion, disability status, ethnicity/national origin, gender or sexual orientation. Hate crimes may include threatened, attempted, or actual crimes; and may include assault and battery, vandalism, or other destruction of property, or verbal threats of physical harm. Harassment or intimidation may also be hate crimes when used to deprive or interfere with a person's exercise of civil rights.
Targeted Student or Group: A targeted student or group is an individual or group who believes or perceives that they have been the victim of a bias incident and/or hate crime based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information or Vietnam-era or disabled veteran status.
Suffolk University does not tolerate any behavior which constitutes a bias incident and/or hate crime. Students found responsible for bias incidents and/or hate crimes are subject to disciplinary action. Such action may range from a warning or disciplinary probation to suspension or dismissal from the residence halls or the university.
Any retaliatory action or behavior taken toward an individual as a consequence of his or her decision to report a bias incident or hate crime, pursue action or criminal prosecution, or any retaliatory action or behavior taken toward any individual who cooperates in an investigation is prohibited. Retaliatory acts may include, but are not limited to threats, intimidation or harassment. Retaliation may result in immediate disciplinary action.
Targeted students, groups, individuals or witnesses reporting an incident may self-identify or remain anonymous. Anonymous reporting, however, may impact the university's ability to respond or pursue appropriate action against the alleged perpetrators. Information about an incident may be disclosed (i.e. nature of the incident, location of incident, etc.) in the form of safety announcements, summary report updates, reports for disciplinary action or as required by law.
Suffolk University understands that a student or group of students who has been the target of a bias incident may wish to talk about the incident with the assurance that the discussion will be confidential. Students may speak with professional counselors in the Counseling Center or the University Chaplain confidentially for emotional support and may also choose to report a bias incident or hate crime according to the procedures noted below. Confidentiality may not be assured when there is imminent risk of harm to the targeted student, group of students or others.
5th floor, 73 Tremont Street
Amy Fisher, University Chaplain
5th floor, Donahue Hall
Because these services are, in most cases, confidential, a discussion with any of the above resources will likely not result in a complaint being filed with the University or result in action being taken by the University to respond to the incident. A student who wants emotional support only should contact the confidential counseling resources listed above. A student wishing to have an incident investigated, mediated or adjudicated must make a complaint in accordance with the procedures described below.
The University endeavors to respect and follow the wishes of a student or group of students who bring forward a bias incident concern. However, students should understand that Suffolk may have ethical and legal obligations to investigate, attempt to resolve or adjudicate bias incidents of that come to its attention and also may have obligations to report the matter to the local police department. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, it may not be possible for a conversation with Suffolk University Police, a Resident Assistant, or other administrators to be kept in confidence, or, said another way, for these individuals simply to listen without taking action.
Staff members in the following departments are available to discuss bias incidents and hate crimes with students and provide support and information about University policies and services. Any reports of bias incidents and hate crimes (not the name of the targeted student or group) must be reported to the dean of students.
Consulting with a staff member below is not considered submitting a compliant with the University. See "Reporting" below for how to report a bias incident or hate crime.
- Counseling Center, 73 Tremont Street, 5th floor, 617.573.8226
- Law School Dean of Students Office, Sargent Hall, 4th Floor, 617-573-8157
- Diversity Services, Archer 481, accessed by the Donahue Staircase, 617.573.8613
- Interfaith Center, Donahue 539, 617.573.8325
- Suffolk University Police Department (SUPD), Donahue Lobby, 617.573.8111 (24-hour service, seven days a week)
Bias incidents and hate crimes may be reported:
- In person or via telephone to the Suffolk University Police Department (SUPD) at (617) 573-8111, Donahue Lobby. A targeted student or group may meet with a member of the SUPD to report a bias incident or a hate crime. SUPD will forward the report to the dean of students, or designee who will review the Policy Against Bias Incidents and/or Hate Crimes and discuss options for follow-up. The targeted person and/or group will have an opportunity to explore response options, discuss what role he or she would like to play in response efforts and learn about options for support.
- To the Law School Dean of Students Office at (617) 573-81578157, 120 Tremont Street, 4th Floor. The dean of students, or designee, will meet with the targeted student or group to learn about the incident and to review the Policy Against Bias Incidents and/or Hate Crimes and to discuss options for follow-up. The targeted person and/or group will have an opportunity to explore response options, discuss what role he or she would like to play in response efforts and learn about options for support.
Responding to a Bias Incident or Hate Crime
If a bias incident and/or hate crime is in the form of graffiti or other posting, it should not be removed or destroyed. SUPD should be called immediately at (617) 573-8111. The graffiti or posting may be temporarily covered as long as the covering does not damage the graffiti or posting.SUPD will photograph the graffiti or posting and will contact Facilities to remove the graffiti or posting.
Bias Incident Response Team
The purpose of the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is to support the targeted student or group, educate the Suffolk Community about the negative impacts of bias incidents and hate crimes, and help to foster a University culture and climate that fully welcomes diversity, while protecting the targeted student's or group's right to privacy. Once a report of a bias incident and/or hate crime is received by the dean of students, BIRT will be called together to determine initial response measures and identify additional campus resources to assist with the University response to the incident or situation being addressed. Coordinated campus responses may include, but are not limited to, identification of and referral to appropriate support services and resources on- or off-campus, referral for disciplinary action for violations of the Community Standards or other university policies, informal resolution measures such as mediation, facilitated dialogue between parties, discussions in residence halls or at other campus locations, recommendations for campus notices for fact sharing, and efforts towards wider educational awareness, prevention and outreach.
BIRT does not play a role in the investigation of the alleged incident or render any decision concerning the responsibility of the parties involved.
BIRT may be composed of at least the:
- Law Dean of Students, or designee
- Law Associate Dean of Students
- Director of Suffolk University Police (SUPD), or designee
- Law School Associate Dean
- Director of Diversity Services, or designee
- University Risk Manager, or designee
Other members of the Suffolk University Community such as the Director of the Counseling Center, University Chaplain, and Director of Public Affairs may be included as needed for a given set of circumstances.
Although the targeted student or group may not be present at BIRT meetings, the targeted student's or group's rights to anonymity will be respected by all members and overseen by the dean of students.
The dean of students, or designee, will maintain a historical record of documented bias incidents and/or hate crime reports that occur on campus or at college sponsored events, programs, or activities off-campus.
The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 (Title II of Public Law 101-542) requires universities to publish statistics on certain types of crimes, including hate crimes, that occur on university grounds and are reported to SUPD or designated campus administrators. For annual crime statistics at Suffolk University, go to http://www.suffolk.edu/campuslife/3790.html
If You Have Been a Target of a Bias Incident or Hate Crime
If you believe that you may have been the target of a bias incident or and/or a hate crime, there are several steps you should follow:
- If necessary, obtain medical attention, and if you feel unsafe call SUPD immediately at (617) 573-8111.
- If possible, preserve any evidence and document the incident as thoroughly as possible (graffiti, phone call recording, e-mail message, letter, and so forth) by taking pictures, videotaping, and writing down everything you or witnesses remember, and keeping the contact information of any witnesses.
- Report the incident to the appropriate authority. Anyone may report a bias incident to:
- SUPD at (617) 573-8111
- Dean of Students at (617) 573-8157
If you are not sure whether or not a bias incident may be a hate crime, report it anyway to SUPD at (617) 573-8111.
It is best to report an incident as early as possible to facilitate the investigation. SUPD, and other offices listed in the "Reporting" section above will be able to refer you to a variety of support resources both on and off campus that will be helpful. Please do not hesitate to request this information at any time. It is important to talk to someone if you experience or witness a bias incident or hate crime.
If You Have Been a Witness to a Bias Incident or a Hate Crime
Why it is important to report bias incidents and hate crimes? The police and the University need to know the number, type, and range of bias incidents and hate crimes that impact our community. Reporting these acts will help Suffolk University identify the problem areas to improve services that deal with this type of victimization. As a witness to a bias incident or hate crime, you have a unique opportunity to play a vital role in the internal and/or external justice system. By reporting the incident, information you provide will help the University ensure that offenders answer for their offenses and will help resolve larger issues.The information you give by reporting a hate crime or incident you may witness will:
- Help bring the perpetrator to justice—this could prevent further occurrences and protect other Suffolk University community members;
- Help you—you may find it beneficial to talk about what has happened and your feelings about it;
- Help the Suffolk University community—all such offenses have a negative effect on our community and should be pursued actively.