Date Adopted: February 24, 2022
I. Definition of Terms
For purposes of this policy and procedure, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- Bias Incident: A bias incident is defined as physical, verbal or written conduct that is directed toward an individual or group based on one or more protected categories. A bias incident may include one specific act or ongoing harassing behavior that threatens, is demeaning to the targeted individual(s) or limits their ability to work, study, enjoy or participate in College life.
- Bias Response System: A streamlined process to report incidents of bias on the Ramapo College campus. It should be used by students, faculty, staff and administrators. Compliance safeguards the rights of our community and ensures full participation in campus life through the timely and transparent investigation and discharge of institutional obligations related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, Title IX of the Education Amendment Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).
- Discrimination: Discrimination is the unjust and unfavorable treatment of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of one or more protected categories. It involves restricting an individual or groups of individuals from opportunities or privileges that are available to members of another group.
- Diversity is the full range of human difference and experience. Further, diversity refers to the many ways in which people differ, such as age, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity, religion, physical and mental abilities and disabilities, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and national origin.
- EDIC refers to the Ramapo College of New Jersey Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance.
- Equity refers to the creation of equal opportunities and the ending of discrimination against people based on their identity or background.
- Hate Crime: The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines hate crime as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
- Inclusion exists when all individuals and groups feel accepted and are empowered to participate as full and valued members of a community.
- Protected Categories: New Jersey and the federal government have enacted laws that protect individuals or groups of individuals from being subjected to discrimination and/or harassment based on one or more of the following characteristics that are legally referred to as “protected categories”: Race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, actual or perceived sexual orientation, sex, pregnancy or breastfeeding, gender identity or expression, civil union/domestic partnership status, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, liability for military service, and disability (mental or physical).
II. Submitting a Bias Incident Report
A. If someone believes they are the victim of or a witness to a bias incident, the person may report the incident, in person, by phone or email to the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Compliance (“EDIC”) or online using the anonymous online reporting form.
B. Upon receipt of a bias incident report, EDIC will make every effort to collect the following information:
a. Contact information for the reporting party. The reporting party may choose to remain anonymous; however, the reporting party is encouraged to indicate if they are a student, faculty, staff or administrator.
b. Contact information for all individuals involved, including witnesses.
c. A detailed account of the incident, including date, time, and location.
d. A detailed description of what was experienced, observed or said, to the best of the reporting party’s recollection. The description should include any specific language, terms or images that were used, including documentation (photographs, screenshots, etc.) wherever possible.
e. Name of the individual(s) alleged to have committed the bias act or a specific description of the individual(s) alleged to have been involved.
f. Any additional information that may assist in responding to the incident.
C. A report of a bias incident will not result in any formal action or investigation to be taken under this policy. All complaints of bias will be kept confidential by EDIC to protect all individuals involved, except as described below:
a. To the extent permitted by law, information contained in a bias incident report will only be released in response to an applicable Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request or a lawfully issued subpoena.
b. If EDIC determines the act(s) alleged in the report appear to meet the elements of a violation of the College’s Student Code of Conduct; the State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace; or the Sexual Misconduct Policy all relevant information will be shared with the appropriate office for formal review and investigation, if necessary.
c. Hate Crimes. If it is believed that a hate or other crime has been committed, an EDIC Representative will immediately report the incident to the College’s Public Safety Department for their own follow up and investigation according to their existing protocols.
III. The College’s Response upon Receipt of a Bias Incident Report
A. Upon receipt of a bias incident report, an EDIC staff member will contact the reporting party (within 3 business days) of the date of the report to acknowledge receipt and request any information listed in Section B., above, that might not have been included in the report. In addition, the EDIC staff member will inform the reporting party of available counseling and support services, along with additional supportive measures such as housing, academic and transportation accommodations, if reasonably available.
B. The EDIC staff member will review and make every effort to follow up on the reported incident even when the person(s) believed to have committed the act or acts in question cannot be identified.
C. After all applicable information has been obtained an EDIC representative will do the following:
a. Speak with the reporting party to find out if the party would like the following:
i. the bias incident report to be filed for an informal resolution;
ii. A review of the matter by the EDIC representative and follow up with the individuals involved in the bias incident; or
iii. the College to use the report solely for reporting purposes and to educate the Ramapo community;
b. Convene the Bias Response, Prevention and Education Team; and
c. Referral of the matter for a formal investigation, if necessary.
IV. Members of the Bias Response, Prevention and Education Team (“BRPET”)
- Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance
- Office of the Dean of Students or Designee
- Violence Prevention Education Specialist/Coordinator of the Women’s Center & LGBTQ Services
- Psychological Counselor, Multicultural Specialist
- A Representative from the Office of Residence Life
- A Representative from the Office of Public Safety
- A Faculty Member (elected by the Faculty Assembly)
- A Student (designated by the Student Government Association)
V. Goals of the BRPET
- Adhere to the confidentiality requirements of all reporting;
- Respond on an as needed basis to bias incidents with direction from EDIC;
- Support community members impacted by the bias incident;
- Assess data to review and determine if a pattern of bias exists on campus; and
- Provide recommendations to the Chief Equity & Diversity Officer regarding trainings, programs and policies.
VI. Reporting Party’s Request for Confidentiality & Use of the Bias Report Solely for Reporting Purposes
If the reporting party requests confidentiality and that the bias report be used solely for reporting purposes, the College will take all reasonable steps to respond consistent with this request. However, the reporting party should keep in mind that the insistence that their name or other identifiable information is not disclosed will severely limit the College’s ability to respond and address the bias incident. In addition, the EDIC staff member will evaluate the confidentiality request in the context of the College’s responsibility to provide a safe and bias-free environment to its students, faculty and staff. Therefore, the EDIC staff member must move forward with reviewing reports in which there appears to be a serious threat to a member of the College community or to the College as a whole.
VII. Reviewing a Bias Incident Report
A. If an EDIC staff member determines that a review of a bias report is necessary, the staff member will begin such review process within five (5) business days of receipt of the report. This review process may include but is not limited to: speaking with the reporting party; identifying and speaking with relevant witnesses; identifying and reviewing relevant documentation or other evidence; and visiting the location of the alleged incident.
B. When appropriate, certain bias incident reports may be resolved through informal resolution. Informal resolution is designed to eliminate the bias act or conduct at issue, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects in a manner that meets the expressed preference of the reporting party and the safety and welfare of the campus community. Informal resolution may include establishing supportive measures, issuing an impact statement, conducting targeted or broad-based educational programming or training; facilitating a meeting with the reporting party and the accused; and/or a verbal or written apology. All parties must consent to the informal resolution process. In addition, informal resolution may not be used to resolve a bias incident that is a hate crime and/or in violation of the law, College policy or Code of Conduct.
C. Upon completion of the review process, the EDIC staff member will take appropriate action to resolve the situation in a timely manner. Resolution may include one, several, or all of the following steps:
a. Make a record of the incident.
b. Offer voluntary participation in the Informal Resolution Process.
c. Refer the report to the Office of Student Conduct, the Office of Title IX, the Office of Affirmative Action and/or the Department of Human Resources to determine if the bias act or conduct is in violation of a College Policy and/or the Student Code of Conduct.
d. Report the findings to the Bias Response, Prevention & Education Team.
VIII. Statement Regarding Outcomes Resulting from a Report of an Act of Bias
Ramapo College acknowledges that an act of bias can be disruptive and harmful to members of the community. However, an act of bias may not be in violation of the law, a College policy and/or the Student Code of Conduct, and therefore it may not result in discipline. Reported acts of bias may instead warrant informal discussion and/or education about how they affect members of the College community.
Ramapo College is committed to an environment in which all students, faculty and staff are invited to express their ideas and viewpoints and likewise have those ideas and viewpoints respectfully challenged and debated. Nevertheless, a reported act of bias may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, the Office of Title IX, the Office of Affirmative Action and/or the Department of Human Resources to determine if such bias act or conduct is in violation of a College Policy and/or the Student Code of Conduct.