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Vassar College Bias Incident and Bias Crime Policy

The following appears in the Vassar College Regulations, Part C: Emergency Resources and Information.

Vassar College strives to provide educational, working, and living environments free from discrimination, harassment, intolerance, and hate. Such behavior will not be tolerated. The purpose of bias incident and hate crime protocol is to provide information about responding to bias incidents or hate crimes that occur on campus and to outline the procedures and resources available to members of the Vassar College community. It is not the purpose or the intent of this protocol to define whether or not an act may violate Vassar College regulations or state or federal law.

A. New York State Hate Crimes Act of 2000 (Article 485): Federal and state statutes on hate crime vary in terms of the acts and categories of bias that are covered. Under New York State Law, a hate crime is committed when a person commits a specified offense and either (1) intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed, or (2) intentionally commits the act or acts because of a belief or perception of the person’s or group’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct. When a person is convicted of a hate crime pursuant to Article 485, the law provides for the level of a hate crime to be deemed one category higher than the specified offense, when that specified offense is a misdemeanor or a class C, D, or E felony. When the specified offense is a class B or A-1 felony, the term of sentence is enhanced.

B. Reporting a Bias Incident or Hate Crime: Vassar strongly encourages the reporting of all hate crimes and bias incidents that occur on campus or at college-sponsored events or activities occurring off campus. A bias incident is characterized as a behavior or act – verbal, written, or physical – which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status, or age. Behavior reflecting bias may constitute a violation of Vassar College regulations. The kinds of incidents that may constitute a bias incident include, but are not limited to, threatening telephone calls or mail (including electronic mail), graffiti, physical assault, sexual assault or abuse, stalking, vandalism, destruction of personal property, harassment, or coercion.

  1. Safety: CALL SAFETY AND SECURITY AT (845) 437-7333 IF YOU ARE DEALING WITH AN EMERGENCY SITUATION OR TO REPORT A CRIME IN PROGRESS. Vassar College considers personal safety and wellbeing to be of the utmost importance in the handling of all bias incidents and hate crime reports. Incidents that threaten, result in, or potentially could result in physical harm or violence should be reported immediately to the Vassar Safety and Security Department, (845) 437-7333.
  2. Privacy: Every effort will be made to protect the identity of individuals involved, and to maintain the level of privacy requested by the reporting party. Persons reporting an incident may self-identify or remain anonymous. Anonymous reporting, however, may impact the college’s ability to respond, or pursue appropriate action against the alleged perpetrators. Information about an incident may be disclosed (i.e., nature of the incident, location of incident, etc.) in the form of safety announcements, summary report updates, or as required by law.
  3. Documenting the Incident: Target person(s) or witnesses should immediately document what happened and report the incident as soon as possible. When documenting the incident:
    1. Provide a detailed account of the incident including date, time, and loction.
    2. Do not remove or tamper with physical evidence. Contact Vassar Security to document and collect physical evidence.
    3. If the incident involves a verbal act, write down exactly what was said to the best of your recollection.
    4. Identify the perpetrator(s) if known or provide a detailed description of the individual(s) involved.
    5. List all witnesses including their names and contact information.
    6. Include other pertinent information that may assist Vassar in responding to the incident.
  4. Documenting Graffiti, Vandalism, Telephone, Email, or Public Postings:
    Take the following actions, depending on the form of the incident:
    1. Graffiti, vandalism, or public postings: Security will document it for evidence and take responsibility for ensuring its prompt removal.
    2. Email: Keep the email in your inbox. Do not delete, alter, or forward the message. Contact Safety and Security, (845) 437-7333, to inform them of the email. Safety and Security will contact appropriate campus officials to investigate the source.
    3. Telephone call: Do not engage in or encourage conversation. Report all harassing calls to Security, (845) 437-7333. Record the time and date of the call, and keep a record of the telephone number if you have caller ID. Security will work with telecommunications to trace the call. Do not leave identifying information, such as your name and phone number, on your answering machine or cell voice message. If you have received repeated calls, record a message similar to: “I’m sorry we cannot come to the phone right now. We are receiving harassing calls and the phone company has a tap on this line.” For calls on your Vassar line, depress the hook switch and dial *(2). This will help to trace the call.
  5. Filing a Report: You may file a written report with Security, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, or the Campus Life Office. Students may also report an incident to a house advisor through the 24-hour administrator-on-call system. These offices and officers of the college are required to report all bias complaints that come to their attention. Individuals may still request that their complaint be anonymous. For more information about bias crimes or on- or off-campus resources, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at (845) 437-7584.