Bias Incident and Hate Crimes
As part of the College’s commitment to an inclusive campus community, a Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) and protocol has been developed to address incidents that occur on-campus or at any Hamilton-sponsored off-campus event. We urge all community members to familiarize themselves with the harassment and discrimination policy and to report promptly any incidents that violate the standards that we as a community seek to uphold.
- The reporting system does not create a new category of prohibited behavior or a new process for members of the Hamilton community to be disciplined or sanctioned.
- The BIR Team has no authority to discipline any student or member of the faculty or staff.
- Reported conduct that may be a violation of college policy will be referred for action through existing disciplinary or judicial procedures.
What is a Bias Incident?
A bias incident is an action that violates college policy and is motivated, in whole or in part, by the perpetrator's bias or attitude against an individual or group based on perceived or actual personal characteristics, including age, gender or gender identity, race, color, national origin, sexual and affectional orientation/association, military or veterans status, marital status, mental/physical disability, genetic information, ethnic origin, or religion.
Examples of bias incidents include harassment, intimidating or threatening comments or messages, vandalism of personal or college property, and defacing posters or signs. Bias incidents affect not only the individual victim or target of a specific action, but often make an entire group or community feel vulnerable and unwelcome.
This is unacceptable at Hamilton College and will be treated as a serious offense that could include separation from the College.
What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime, also called a bias crime or bias-related crime, is criminal activity motivated, in whole or in part, by the perpetrator's bias or attitude against an individual victim or group based on perceived or actual personal characteristics, such as their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. In addition to the victim, members of the victim's group and the community as a whole can feel victimized by a hate crime.
Hate/bias crimes have received renewed attention in recent years, particularly since the passage of the federal Hate/Bias Crime Reporting Act of 1990 and the New York Penal Law 485.05 provides, in part, as follows: A person commits a hate crime when he or she commits a specified offense and either: intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct, or intentionally commits the act or acts constituting the offense in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.
Examples of specific crimes identifiable as hate crimes include murder, manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, forcible and non-forcible sex offenses, intimidation, destruction, damage or vandalism of property in which the victim is intentionally selected because of the actual or perceived protected category.
What are the penalties for a Hate Crime?
For most crimes, when a person is convicted of a hate crime, the crime is deemed to be one category higher than the specified offense the defendant committed, and the person is sentenced accordingly.
Penalties for hate crimes are very serious and range from fines to imprisonment for lengthy periods, depending on the nature of the underlying criminal offense, the use of violence or previous convictions of the offender. For specific information on sentencing, refer to Penal Law Article 485.
Hate crimes are prohibited, in separate ways, by New York State law and Hamilton College policy. Thus, offenders may be prosecuted under New York State criminal statutes and subject to disciplinary action by the Hamilton College. The College may pursue disciplinary action while criminal action is pending, or even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute. In addition to any criminal penalties, students found responsible for a hate crime are subject to disciplinary action and penalties, which may include, among other penalties, separation from the College.