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Bias Incident Response Protocol

I. Introduction

Clemson University seeks to be an inclusive community that welcomes and respects all people. Every member of our community is expected to commit to maintaining a safe, respectful and welcoming community. Acts that are an affront to the core values of the institution, which are integrity, honesty and respect, are not tolerated. Such actions destroy the sense of community we all share. Additionally, acts of intolerance do untold and unjust harm to the well-being, dignity and safety of those who are victimized by these acts.

II. Purpose

The Bias Incident Response Protocol outlines an organized response to bias incidents that may occur within the Clemson University community involving students. This protocol is not intended to negate the freedom of expression rights guaranteed to all individuals in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. There is no intention to use this protocol as a disciplinary procedure or tool. Rather, the primary focus of this document is to outline a set of responses which will provide assistance and support for individuals who perceive that they are the victims of a bias incident. This protocol is not intended to override the responsibility or authority of any University office designated to address complaints of alleged discrimination, harassment or hate crimes. Offices such as Access and Equity, the Office of Community and Ethical Standards and other appropriate offices will continue to respond to complaints that are directed to their attention. This protocol will complement the work of these offices. It will be used to ensure an efficient, effective and appropriate response to incidents that are considered to be bias- motivated involving Clemson University students.

III. Objectives

The primary objectives of the Bias Incident Response Protocol process are to achieve the following:
  • Support the well-being of all University students.
  • Offer students a convenient and efficient means to report bias incidents.
  • Document and monitor all bias incidents to respond appropriately to incidents and incident trends.
  • Track bias incidents to assess the effectiveness of the University’s bias incident reporting system.
  • Use cumulative bias report information as a basis to develop comprehensive and effective intervention and prevention strategies.
  • Reaffirm the institution’s strong commitment to integrity, honesty, respect and support for an inclusive community.

IV. Definitions

Bias incident: Any conduct or expression that demeans, degrades or harasses an individual or group based on the actual or perceived age, ancestry, color, race, religion, culture, gender, gender identity expression, sexual orientation, ability (physical, emotional or intellectual), national origin or veteran status of another individual or group of individuals.

For the purposes of this protocol, a “bias-motivated incident” is any of the following:

  • Discrimination — This refers to conduct that denies any individual or group equal privileges or access to a particular activity or opportunity because of the individual’s age, ancestry, color, race, religion, culture, gender, gender identity expression, sexual orientation, ability (physical, emotional or intellectual), national origin or veteran status.
  • Harassment — This is defined as unwelcome conduct based upon race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, age, disability, status as a military veteran or protected activity [e.g. opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process] that unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. Examples may include, but are not limited to, epithets, images, slurs, jokes, electronic communication or other verbal, graphic or physical conduct.
  • Acts of Intolerance — This refers to conduct motivated by discriminatory bias or hatred toward other individuals or groups based on perceived or actual characteristics of age, ancestry, color, race, religion, culture, gender, gender identity expression, sexual orientation, ability (physical, emotional or intellectual), national origin, veteran status or other attribute.

V. Procedures for Reporting Bias Incidents

Students who perceive that they have experienced a bias-motivated incident, as well as students, faculty or staff who are witnesses to a bias incident involving any member of our community, are urged to report the incident immediately by one of the following means:

A. Complete an online bias incident report.

B. File an in-person report at the following offices:

1. Office of Inclusion and Equity, 103 Sikes Hall
2. Office of Access and Equity, 110 Holtzendorff Hall
3. Dean of Students Office, 210 Hendrix Student Center
4. Office of Advocacy and Success, 202 Hendrix Center
5. Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, 300 Brackett Hall
6. Office of Community and Ethical Standards, 912 University Union
7. University Housing and Dining, 201 Mell Hall
8. Graduate School, E-108 Martin Hall
9. Undergraduate Studies, E-103 Martin Hall

C. University Incident Response Team — A University Incident Response Team has been established to determine an appropriate University response to incidents of bias. The team may include, but is not limited, to representatives from the following areas: 

  • Chief Diversity Office
  • Access and Equity Office
  • Dean of Students Office
  • Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Center for Student Life
  • Office of Community and Ethical Standards
  • Residential Life Office
  • Graduate School Office
  • General Counsel Office
  • Public Affairs Office
  • Undergraduate Studies
  • Academic Deans

VI. Institutional Responsiveness

A. Any Bias Incident Report Form submitted to a team member must be forwarded to the Chief Diversity Office within one business day.

B. The Chief Diversity Office will maintain a record of the incident and initiate contact with appropriate members of the Incident Response Team; and make all members of the team aware of the incident.

C. Additional members may be added to the Incident Response Team as the need arises to include:

  • An individual with positional authority relevant to the incident.
  • An individual or individuals with an essential diverse perspective.
  • A representative with prior history and experience relevant to the reported incident.

D. If warranted, a university response to the incident will be developed and implemented in a timely manner.

E. The Incident Response Team will be responsible for determining if a University response to the incident is necessary. The Incident Response Team will recommend an appropriate University response to a reported bias incident when a University response is deemed warranted. The team will consider the following:

  • Relevant legal standards with special regard to the First Amendment and academic freedom concerns.
  • Concerns and requests of the alleged victim, especially in regard to anonymity and desired outcome(s).
  • Available University resources relevant to the situation.
  • Whether the incident is a violation of any university policy- which would require following established University procedures.

F. The Incident Response Team will be responsible for identifying and contacting appropriate departments and offices which are necessary to implement an appropriate intervention.

Direct all inquiries to: Chief Diversity Office, Clemson University, 103 Sikes Hall, Box 345016, Clemson, SC 29634-5016, Phone: 864-656-4238, Fax: 864-656-4235 or email