Discrimination & Bias Incidents

If you would like to report an incident involving discrimination or bias on campus, please fill out this online reporting form.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is defined as adverse treatment of an individual based on the person’s protected status. A “protected status” includes race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, genetic information, age, marital status, families with children, protected veteran or military status, HIV or hepatitis C, status as a mother breastfeeding her child, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained guide dog or service animal by a person with a disability.

Additional information is available in EWU Policy 402-02 (Diversity & Nondiscrimination).

What is bias?

Bias is the personal, unreasoned judgment or attitude that inclines an individual to treat others negatively because of their actual or perceived membership in a specific group, particularly a group that is a “protected characteristic.”

Protected characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Marital status
  • Military or veteran status
  • National origin
  • Personal appearance
  • Political affiliation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Any other characteristic protected by law

What is a bias-related act?

Generally, bias-related acts are characterized by some expression of hate or bias against a particular group, or towards and individual because of their actual or perceived membership in that group.  Bias incidents may range from acts considered to be offensive to actions that cause harm.

Although bias-related acts sometimes constitute discrimination (as defined under the University’s Diversity and Nondiscrimination – EWU Policy 402-02), or hate crimes (as defined by federal, state or local law), not all bias incidents rise to the level of discrimination or a hate crime.

Bias acts may be verbal, written, or contained in an image, or physical in nature. These behaviors often contribute to creating an unsafe or unwelcoming environment for individuals and groups. Acts can qualify as bias acts even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or a prank.

What is the difference between a bias-related act and a hate crime?

Bias-related acts and hate crimes both involve behavior that is motivated by bias. However, there are important distinctions between them.

Bias-related acts are essentially prejudiced behaviors toward individuals because of their actual or perceived membership in a protected characteristic. Some bias-related acts are not university policy violations or hate crimes. Even when offenders are not aware of bias, do not intend to offend others, or do not violate law or university policy, bias may be revealed that is worthy of a response and/or an opportunity for education. Bias-related acts are antithetical to the university’s values of fundamental human dignity and equality, and they require the commitment of the university community to successfully address them.

Examples of bias-related acts may include:

  • Name calling; using a racial, ethnic or other slur to identify someone; or using degrading language
  • Creating racist or derogatory images/drawings
  • Imitating someone with a disability, or imitating someone’s cultural norm or practice
  • Making jokes or using stereotypes when talking to someone
  • Use of dehumanizing, derogatory, or insulting language based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender or disability in person, in writing, on social media, on whiteboards.

A hate crime is a violation of the law and could be investigated by EWU Police and/or other law enforcement agencies.  Members of the EWU community may be held accountable for such actions under the Student Conduct Code or other relevant polices, in addition to action taken through the legal system.

Hate crimes are also motivated by bias, but in addition they include a definable crime such as:

  • a threat of violence
  • property damage
  • personal injury
  • or other illegal conduct

Do I have to report or file a complaint if I am aware that an incident of discrimination has occurred?

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or retaliation are encouraged to report such incidents to the university and seek advice and assistance as soon as possible.

Employees, except licensed professionals at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), who become aware of such incidents are mandated to report such incidents.

If you would like to report or file a discrimination complaint internally, please use the link below for the online reporting form. Please see additional campus resources on the Resources page.