Bias Incident Response Protocol

Statement on Commitment to Community

Cal Poly is committed to maintaining a broad and inclusive community that values diversity and fosters tolerance and mutual respect, in which all members embrace core values of academic excellence, open inquiry, free expression, and diversity. Membership in the Cal Poly community is consistent with the highest principles of shared governance, social and environmental responsibility, engagement, and integrity. We embrace and encourage our community differences in age, disability, race or ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran or military status, and other characteristics that make our community unique. All community members have the right to participate fully in Cal Poly’s programs and activities free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation (bias).

Purpose of the Bias Incident Response Team

The Bias Incident Response Team is hosted in the Dean of Students Office. The team works to support and provide resources to those who report and/or witness acts of bias in our campus community. In accordance with California State University Executive Orders 1096 and 1097, the team will refer alleged incidents to the appropriate campus administrators for review and follow-up, in addition to offering available resource services and support.

What is a Bias Incident?

A bias incident is an alleged act of discrimination or harassment that is directed toward an individual or group of individuals because of their age, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or veteran or military status, or any other legally protected groups. A bias incident may be an alleged physical, spoken or written act of abuse, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and/or intimidation; a bias incident may also be an alleged restriction or prevention of free movement of an individual because of that individual’s protected personal characteristic.

What is a Hate Crime?

The State of California has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property, or interference with someone else’s civil rights, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.” Offensive speech in and of itself is not a crime and is generally protected by the First Amendment, with some very limited exceptions. When an allegation of a hate crime is made on campus, the University Police Department (UPD) will respond and investigate.

What is Free Speech?

Free speech includes, but is not limited to, the right to:

  • speak or not speak;
  • free expression;
  • protest war;
  • engage in hate speech;
  • use offensive words or phrases to convey political or controversial messages.

Speech that promotes an unlawful end is excluded from First Amendment protection. For example, each of the following exceptions are very specifically and narrowly defined under the law:

  • promoting actual violence or harm;
  • fighting words;
  • true threats;
  • expression that constitutes criminal or severe harassment;
  • defamation; or
  • false advertising.

How to Report

Anyone who has knowledge of or has experienced a bias incident, on or off campus, involving Cal Poly students, faculty and/or staff, may report the incident in a variety of ways.

For Students, Employees and Third Parties:*

Office of Equal Opportunity, Title IX Coordinator/DHR Administrator - Maren Hufton
Building 33, Room 290
(805) 756-1400

Office of University Diversity and Inclusion
Building 1, Room 412
(805) 756-2250

University Police Department
Crime Stoppers Reporting Site

For Students:*

Dean of Students
Building 52, Room E-11
(805) 756-0327

Student Ombuds Services (to discuss concerns and options)
Kennedy Library, Room 113
(805) 756-1380

*These entities are mandated reporters for Title IX related incidents.

If you would like to confidentially discuss your options prior to reporting, please consider contacting the resources listed below. 

Confidential Resources for Students:

Counseling Services
Building 27, Room 135
(805) 756-2511

Safer (for sexual misconduct/harassment/violence issues)
Building 65, Room 217
(805) 756-2282

Confidential Resources for Employees:

Employee Assistance Program
(800) 367-7474

What does the Bias Incident Response Team Do?

When an incident is reported to the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), some of the following actions may be taken by the BIRT (response times and steps will vary depending on the circumstances of the alleged incident):

  • Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer/Office of University Diversity and Inclusion will review the reported incident as promptly as possible, and will report the incident to the campus DHR Administrator/Title IX Coordinator in accordance with applicable executive orders
  • As appropriate, the Dean of Students and Chief Diversity Officer/Office of University Diversity and Inclusion will consult regularly with campus DHR Administrator/Title IX Coordinator, who will take appropriate action in accordance with applicable executive orders
  • Dean of Students will convene the BIRT
  • BIRT will review the incident and informally gather information surrounding the concerns of the campus community and the affected individual(s)
  • BIRT will refer reports to appropriate offices and campus administrators for further review, inquiry and response
  • BIRT will convene community leaders, if appropriate
  • BIRT will recommend action steps to campus leadership, including recommendations regarding release of responses/statements, when appropriate
  • BIRT will work with campus services, to provide outreach and support to students who are impacted by the incident
  • BIRT will make referrals to appropriate support services
  • BIRT will communicate outcomes to campus leadership
  • BIRT will communicate with person(s) who initially reported the incident

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