Whatcom Community College is committed to creating a dynamic learning atmosphere rich with opportunities for freedom of expression and the pursuit of educational growth for students, faculty and staff. The College will act swiftly and effectively when hate crimes and bias incidents are reported. The College’s responses are governed by the Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy (Student Code of Conduct), Civility Policy and the Affirmation of Inclusion, as well as local, state or federal civil rights laws and regulations.
A bias incident is conduct, speech or expression that is motivated by bias based on the person’s group status that could potentially cause alarm, anger, or fear in others, or that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of a member of the College community, even if presented as a joke but which does not involve criminal behavior. A hate crime is a committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.
Whatcom Community College is committed to evaluating and assessing each incident in a timely manner and will respond using both an equity and educational lens.
Bias Incident Reporting Team Members
The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) includes members from across campus. BIRT’s role is to discuss incidents and respond appropriately. The team meets when incidents are reported and may pull in other campus stakeholders on a need to know basis. Confidentiality will be honored whenever possible.
BIRT includes representation from:
- Access and Disability Services
- Campus Diversity Committee
- Campus Safety and Security
- Community Standards and Residence Life
- Human Resources
- Intercultural Center
- International Programs
- Marketing and Communications
If you witness, encounter or suspect incidents of bias, you are encouraged to file a report, which will be reviewed by the Bias Incident Report Team. If you’re unsure how to interpret an incident and believe there may be a connection to bias, please file a report. Whenever possible, bias reports will be reviewed within two to four business days.
Accommodations and support for submitting a report are available by contacting one of the following BIRT Members:
|Janis V. Farmerfirstname.lastname@example.org||360.383.3098|
|Raquel ‘Rocky’ Vernolaemail@example.com||360.383.3394|
Free Speech and Bias
Whatcom is committed to freedom of expression, and with that commitment comes the recognition that members of our community may express unpopular views. It is our shared responsibility to honor diverse perspectives, and to create welcoming and respectful learning environments. Free speech will be protected and applied fairly, regardless of content. However, speech that impedes on the rights of others, incites violence, or breaks any other laws or policies of the College may be held accountable under the Student Conduct Code. Additionally, it is possible ‘free speech’ to also be a bias incident and should be reported. Learn more about freedom of expression, bias language, and microaggressions.
Depending on the nature of the reported incident, the WCC BIRT Team may:
- Offer support and information regarding available resources.
- Ensure the report is properly routed for investigation and resolution in accordance with applicable policy and principles academic freedom, of free speech and expression.
- Inform and consult with the Behavioral Intervention Team, and key campus stakeholders regarding a possible institutional response.
- Coordinate support for community healing and educational outreach.
- Assess avenues for minimizing and/or eliminating future incidents of bias.
Individuals who submit a report and identify themselves may be contacted for more detail. Anonymous reports also may be submitted. Other College offices, such as Campus Safety and Security, Counseling, Office of Community Standards, the Student Complaint Process, and Human Resources will be consulted as needed. The team will compile and analyze data from submitted reports to inform future educational and prevention efforts.
Institutional responses may include:
- Notice to the community about the incident.
- Individual outreach to an impacted party or parties.
- Offer of support and assistance to affected individuals/communities (typically in the form of counseling services).
- Provide educational workshops or seminars.
- Remove graffiti or flyers.
- Connect affected parties to relevant resources.
- Document cases of bias to identify patterns
- Initiate proceedings under WCC’s student conduct code, the general campus conduct code or processes where appropriate.
By definition a bias incident is conduct, speech or expression that is motivated by bias based on the person’s group status but which does not involve criminal behavior that could potentially cause alarm, anger, or fear in others, or that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of a member of the College community, even if presented as a joke.In more practical terms, a bias incident is any discrimination or harassment against a member of the campus community based on perception of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, pregnancy, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability or veteran status. Something does not necessarily need to rise to the level of a hate crime to constitute a bias incident.
Bias incidents vary in what they ‘may look like’ and there is not a way to describe all the ways bias may show up on campus.Examples of bias incidents are:
- Comments that express harmful stereotypes about the above categories, e.g., racial jokes
- Graffiti or literature that expresses bias against the above categories, e.g., sexist or racist language or images (Note: If the graffiti constitutes criminal vandalism or property damage, it can constitute a hate crime.)
- Language and imagery that objectify women
A hate crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.
Yes. In order to increase the likelihood that students, staff and faculty will submit reports, we created an online report form that can be submitted anonymously. We want to obtain as complete a picture as possible regarding the experiences of our students, staff and faculty, and this tool is a mechanism for accomplishing that goal. We cannot respond to anonymous reporters to provide feedback or information, but we welcome the contribution to our collective knowledge.
The right to privacy is strictly upheld for all parties. We will not freely share your identity with anyone without prior permission, but cannot guarantee absolute anonymity. We will not disclose student records without prior written consent, with few exceptions, as defined in CFR § 99.31(a)(8), § 99.31(a)(10), § 99.31(a)(15), or any other provision in § 99.31(a). Please take into consideration that data collected by the College is subject to public records requests and students have the right to review their own educational records (WAC 132U-280-030). For more information about privacy of information, please visit: http://whatcom.edu/about-the-college/policies-procedures/privacy-notice.
Retaliation by, for, or against any participant (complainant, respondent, or witness) is expressly prohibited. Retaliatory action of any kind taken against individuals as a result of seeking redress under WAC 132U-300-030 or serving as a witness in a subsequent investigation dealing with harassment/discrimination is prohibited and is conduct subject to discipline.
A member of the committee will review the report and determine next steps. Primarily, the information will be maintained in our database, providing us with an overall picture of the kinds of things our students, staff and faculty are experiencing. If the reporting individual wants to discuss the matter further and provides contact information, we will reach out to that individual. The committee will determine what kind of follow up activity may be called for, such as asking facilities services to remove graffiti, reaching out to an affected community to provide support or providing feedback to a department or individual.
It is important to note that the Bias Incident Response Team is neither an investigative nor an oversight body. In the vast majority of cases, it will be entirely up to the person making the report to decide if they want to have a formal investigation initiated. If you submit a report and provide contact information, the team can let you know your options for having the matter investigated and provide information about relevant resources. In rare instances, we may be compelled by law to report a matter to appropriate investigative body (Student Conduct, Title IX). This would be most likely if the safety of a minor appears to be at risk or a direct threat of violence has occurred.
To file a report, follow the prompts on the Incident Reporting Form
Reporting incidents of bias, hate, harassment, or discrimination creates awareness to influence change on campus.