Bias Incidents/Hate Crimes
What is a Bias Incident/Hate Crime?
It is our hope that campus community members will take an active role in reporting bias incidents and hate crimes in order to ensure that RWU remains an inclusive campus. Such incidents may be targeted at specific individuals, but they can also affect an entire group or community.
A bias incident is an incident of verbal or non-verbal conduct or behavior that is threatening, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, or hostile. Bias occurs whether the act is intentional or unintentional and towards an individual or group regarding factors such as race, religion, ethnicity, disability, national origin, age, gender, or sexual orientation.
Please be aware that just because the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to some, it is not necessarily a bias-related incident. RWU values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas in discourse.
A hate crime, generally, refers to a crime committed not out of animosity toward a victim as an individual, but out of hostility toward the group to which the victim belongs.
Rhode Island General Laws 42-28-46, defines a hate crime as “any crime motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to threatened, attempted, or completed acts that appear after investigation to have been motivated by racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender of disability prejudice.”
The Rhode Island Hate Crimes Sentencing Act (Section 12-19-38) provides enhanced penalties when a person has been convicted of a crime in which he or she selected the victim or selected the property that is damaged because of the “hatred or animus toward the actual or perceived disability, religion, color, race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender” of the victim or owner or occupant of the property
Impact of Bias Incidents / Hate Crimes
The effect of a bias incident or hate crime is more distinct and harmful compared to other crimes or improper acts because the attack is based on membership in a group as opposed to any individual trait or behavior. The additional pain and significance of the event in the victim’s life takes on added dimensions, including:
- a lingering sense of fear and vulnerability
- a reactionary response such as action or bias against the perpetrator’s group
- a feeling of an inability to prevent future attacks
- severe emotional and psychological impacts
- symbolic reinforcement of the legitimacy of the discrimination
- a loss of importance and self-worth, for both the victim and the victim’s group