Bias Education and Response
American University takes seriously its responsibility to appropriately balance its core values of free inquiry (including freedom of expression and dissent) and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. On campus and across the nation, the need to live up to these values has only become more pressing. It is also true that these values may sometimes be in conflict. In balancing these values, we are guided by factors including safety, the rights of others, normal functioning of the university, and an accessible living learning environment.
Below, you will find information about bias and how the University will respond if it becomes aware of a bias related incident. All community members should treat each other with dignity and respect. When members of our community fall short, those impacted are encouraged to seek the support of campus resources and report their concerns to the appropriate office.
What is bias?
Bias is a broad category of behaviors that demean or intimidate individuals or groups because of personal characteristics, beliefs, or expressions.
Some forms of bias, including discrimination and harassment, are prohibited under law and/or University policy. Some forms of bias may also rise to the level of a hate crime.
How do I report bias?
If you believe you have been subjected to bias, discrimination and/or harassment, or have observed such behavior, you should make a report to the Office of Equity and Title IX, using the online reporting form.
The Office of Equity and Title IX will reach out to you to learn more about the incident, provide resources and options, and conduct an initial assessment to determine if there is a potential violation of the University’s Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Can individuals who engage in bias-related acts be disciplined by the University?
Individuals who engage in bias-related acts that are determined to be discrimination or harassment under the University’s Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy may be disciplined if there is a finding by the Office of Equity and Title IX that there has been a policy violation.
However, not all acts of bias violate University policy. Bias that does not violate a university policy will generally be addressed through educational interventions.
Additionally, the University’s Guidelines for Freedom of Expression and Dissent establishes protections for freedom of expression and dissent, which could include disagreeable or offensive ideas or opinions, for all community members as long as their personal conduct is consistent with that policy. For example, freedom of expression and dissent must not violate other University policies, such as the Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy.
What is a hate crime?
The District of Columbia's Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989 defines a bias-related crime (i.e., hate crime) as a criminal act and/or attempting, aiding, abetting, advising, inciting, conniving, or conspiring to commit a criminal act (such as arson, assault, burglary, injury to property, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, rape, robbery, theft, or unlawful entry) based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, physical disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of a victim of a criminal act. Hate crimes under various federal laws have similar definitions. Most speech is not a hate crime, regardless of how offensive it may be.
How will the university respond to a hate crime?
A hate crime is a violation of criminal law and will be investigated by University Police and/or other law enforcement agencies as necessary and appropriate. To report a hate crime, contact University Police at 202-885-3636.
What about sexual misconduct?
The Office of Equity and Tile IX is responsible for addressing and responding to all reports of discrimination involving students, faculty, and staff, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, whether within or outside the jurisdiction of Title IX.
Please submit any reports to the Office of Equity and Title IX
AU Community Commitment
- President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion
- AU Experience
- AU’s Plan for Inclusive Excellence
- Diversity & Inclusion (university-wide)
- The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (students)
- Pathways for Change
The Office of Equity and Title IX
The Office of Equity and Title IX oversees all of AU's efforts to prevent and respond to discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault and serve faculty, staff, and students. Its responsibilities include formal and informal complaint resolution, training, and prevention and awareness programming.