A bias incident is action taken that one could reasonably and prudently conclude is motivated, in whole or in part, by the alleged offender’s bias against an actual or perceived aspect of diversity, including, but not limited to, age, ancestry or ethnicity, color, creed, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, height, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or weight.
A diverse community includes everyone and is the foundation for the meaningful exploration and exchange of ideas. Since its founding, Cornell University has encouraged a culture that provides for the full participation of all members of our campus community—this keeps us at the leading edge in education and in our fields and practices.
The University is committed to fostering a safe, respectful, and inclusive living, learning, and working environment for the entire University community. As community members, it is important to recognize our shared responsibility to each other, and to take steps to mitigate and prevent bias incidents and acts of hate or intolerance. The bias-related incident reporting system is one step toward promoting that we, as an institution, live out these values. The reporting system allows for you to safely and anonymously report an incident you may have experienced or witnessed, receive support, and explore options for resolution.
Throughout the academic year, the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity engages those involved in the bias reporting process—including the Bias Assessment and Review Team (BART) members and the constituent assemblies—to gather feedback, to propose structural and procedural changes to the Reporting Bias System, and to make recommendations on programs, policies, and ongoing educational interventions.
Examples of bias incidents include:
- defacement and vandalism
- use of oral or written racial epithets
- racially-themed parties
- ridiculing a person's language or accent
- insulting a person's traditional manner of dress
- hate messages and symbols
- language and imagery objectifying a person based on race or gender
- ridiculing a person's gender expression
- Supervisor makes derogatory comments
The examples listed above do not fully encompass the many ways in which bias-related incidents may occur.
NOTE: Advocacy of differing political viewpoints, expression of personal preferences, interpersonal disputes, and academic-based disputes generally do not constitute bias incidents.
Reporting bias and the resulting efforts to understand and prevent bias activity are a matter of taking part in a caring community. Anyone who directly witnesses or experiences bias activity on the Cornell campus or in an area that impacts the Cornell community should intervene in the moment as appropriate (e.g., contact Cornell Police at 911, if a crime is in progress, or interrupt the behavior in as much as the observer feels skilled and safe), and be sure to also report the incident as soon as possible.
A flow chart can be found in the image above.
For all reports containing contact information but the reporter wishes to remain anonymous to other parties involved, a member of the BART will contact you to confirm the report was received and offer the opportunity to schedule a meeting if the reporter desires to discuss the incident further or would like additional support or referrals to resources. Additionally, depending on the information provided in the report, the report may be referred to an appropriate office
For reports containing contact information in which the reporter does NOT wish to remain anonymous to other parties involved a member of the BART will contact you to confirm the report was received and discuss the appropriate forum and available options to address the issues raised in your report. Options may include conflict coaching, mediation or a restorative justice process. The other parties involved in your report may or may not be contacted depending on the nature and extent of information provided in the report. Actions will generally be educational in nature.
If you choose to remain anonymous, the incident will be documented and used to consider future community education and programming. The accused may be contacted depending on the nature and extent of information provided in the report.
All reported incidents are included in the Annual Report on bias activity. The reports will be presented as aggregated de-identified data.
- Shura Gat, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Gender Equity Resource Center
- Christina Liang, Director, Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
Bias Assessment and Review Team:
- Joseph Canzano, Operations Lieutenant, Cornell University Police
- Devan Carrington, Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support, Development and Inclusion
- Janna Lamey, Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life
- Kyle McGee, Assistant Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life and MGFC Advisor
- Christine Nye, Associate Director, Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
- Julie Paige, Director, Off-Campus and Cooperative Living, Housing and Residence Life
- David Reetz, Director, Counseling and Psychological Services, Cornell Health
- Scott Voss, Assistant Director of Conduct and Care, Housing and Residence Life
- Kathleen Wilhite, Assistant Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life and IFC Advisor
It is important to note that the Bias Assessment and Review Team (BART) is neither an investigative nor a disciplinary body. Actions will generally be educational in nature and can include conflict coaching or mediation dependent upon the reporters decision regarding anonymity.
Unlawful discrimination refers to specific conduct prohibited by law that unfairly treats people differently because of their characteristic or perceived characteristics that the law deems to be unrelated to merit. An example of unlawful discrimination would be to deny membership into a group because a person is Muslim.
Bias is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people who possess common physical characteristic or cultural experiences. An example of a bias incident, would be writing racist or homophobic graffiti on the door.
Unlawful discrimination often results from bias. Bias-related incidents, however, do not always result in unfair treatment that violates nondiscrimination laws.