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.
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.
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” for how to report 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 incidents and hate crimes may be reported:
This chart may be useful to outline the appropriate reporting and follow-up process under this protocol.
The University has developed internal procedures that students may use to file a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment. The procedure to be used by students in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Sawyer Business School is outlined in the following grievance procedure. In addition, a student who believes that he/she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below.
Claims of harassment or discrimination are (1) claims of violation of the University’s non-discrimination policy, (2) claims of violation of the University policy in opposition to harassment and (3) claims of violations of this policy. If the student wants to discuss his/her options for filing a complaint, the student should consult with the senior associate dean of students, or designee. The purpose of this consultation is multifold. The senior associate dean of students, or designee, will provide information and assistance to help the student resolve the problem independently, will help the student assess whether the behavior is harassing or discriminatory, will explain the University’s grievance procedure, and will provide guidance in the use of the formal grievance procedure.
The student may request that the senior associate dean of students, or designee, attempt to resolve the grievance informally. The request for an informal resolution must be made within 75 working days of the occurrence of the incident. If the student requests an informal resolution, the senior associate dean of students, or designee, will attempt to provide an informal resolution within 20 working days of receipt of the student’s request. A student who requests to use the informal grievance procedure has the right to end the informal process at any time and begin the formal grievance procedure. The informal grievance procedure will not be used to resolve sexual assault complaints.
If the student requests a formal resolution, or if the grievance cannot be resolved informally within the stated time period, the following formal grievance procedure is used.
Where to File a Formal Complaint?
If the person alleged to be responsible for the alleged harassment or discriminatory activity is:
A Faculty Member—File with the dean of the appropriate school
Dr. Kenneth Greenberg, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 617.573.8265, Donahue Building, 1st floor
William O’Neill, Esq., Dean, Sawyer Business School, 617.573.8300, 73 Tremont Street, 12th floor,
Camille Nelson, Esq. Dean, Law School 617.573.8155 Sargent Hall, 4th floor
An Administrator or Staff Member—File with the director of human resources
Katherine Whidden, Chief Human Resources Officer, Human Resources, 617.573.8415, 73 Tremont Street, 5th floor
A Student, a Work-study Student, or a Graduate Assistant—File with the senior associate dean of students
Dr. Ann Coyne, Senior Associate Dean of Students for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School, 617.573.8239, 73 Tremont Street, 12th floor
What Should Be Filed?
The grievance should be in writing, should summarize the alleged discrimination or harassment, should identify the person allegedly responsible for the discrimination or harassment, and should describe the resolution sought.
When Should the Formal Grievance Be Filed?
The grievance should be filed within 75 working days of the occurrence of the alleged incident. A filing time of 110 working days from the occurrence of the alleged incident is allowed for claims that were unresolved at the informal level.
How Will the Formal Grievance Be Processed?
If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is a student, the senior associate dean of students, or designee, will investigate the allegation. If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is a faculty member, the dean, or designee will investigate the allegation. If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is an administrator or staff member, the director of human resources or designee will investigate the allegation. The allegation will be investigated in a fair and expeditious manner. It will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent possible under the circumstances. The investigation will include a private interview with the person filing the grievance, the person alleged to have committed the harassment or discrimination, and witnesses, if appropriate. The University will use a preponderance of the evidence standard in addressing a grievance. When the investigation is complete, to the extent appropriate, the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct will be informed of the results of the investigation in writing and simultaneously. A confidential written record of the investigation, including all documentary materials, will be maintained in a private file in the office of the official charged with the investigation. The entire investigation will be completed within 20 working days from the date the written grievance was received by the person responsible for the investigation. If it is determined that discrimination or harassment has occurred, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. Such action may range from a warning to disciplinary probation to required participation in educational programs to dismissal from the University or other appropriate sanction(s). The University will take steps to prevent recurrence of any discriminatory or harassing behavior and to correct its discriminatory effects on the survivor and others, if appropriate.
What Is the Appeal Process?
If the student filing the grievance believes that the decision was substantially flawed by procedural error in the investigation or finds new information not known at the time of the investigation that is sufficient to alter the results of the investigation, he/she may request a review by the president, or designee. Likewise, if the complaint is brought against a student, if he/she believes that the decision was substantially flawed by procedural error in the investigation or finds new information not known at the time of the investigation that is sufficient to alter the results of the investigation, he/she may request a review by the president, or designee. The request for review by the president, or designee, must be made within 5 working days of receipt of the result of the investigation. The president, or designee, will review the written record and submit a written decision to both parties within 30 working days of receipt of the appeal.
Note: These procedures have been designed to provide a prompt resolution to a grievance. The steps in the procedures contain time limits measured in working days—the days when the administrative offices are regularly open for business. Weekends, holidays, snow days, and days when the University is closed for other reasons shall not be counted as working days. If the person investigating the complaint determines that additional working days are necessary to complete the investigation, he/she will notify the parties of the anticipated completion date of the investigation.
Using the University’s grievance process does not prohibit a student from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a time period for filing a claim: EEOC—300 days; MCAD—300 days.
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
JFK Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203
617.565.3200 or 1.800.669.4000
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
424 Dwight Street
Springfield, MA 01103
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 senior associate dean of students, BIRT to 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:
Other members of the Suffolk University Community such as the Director of Counseling and Health Services, Director of Residence Life and Housing, Director of Student Leadership and Involvement, University Chaplain, Director of Disability Services and Vice President of Marketing and Communications 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 senior associate dean of students, or designee.
The senior associate 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/3504.php.
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:
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:
If you believe that you may have witnessed a bias incident or and/or a hate crime, there are several steps you should follow:
It is best to report an incident as early as possible to facilitate the investigation. SUPD, and other offices listed here 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.
Suffolk University will offer training to university responders including RAs and members of the Residence Life Staff, SUPD, members of the Facilities Department, Residence Life Staff and members of the BIRT on how to identify and respond to bias incidents and/or hate crimes.
If you are interested in participating in a training or scheduling a training for your group or department, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.573.8613.