Hamilton College seeks to prepare all students to thrive as fully engaged citizens of a diverse and increasingly complex world. In keeping with this goal, Hamilton is duly committed to distinguishing itself as a living and learning community that values and exemplifies the inclusion of diverse persons and perspectives. However, no college or community is immune to problems that arise as a result of various forms of bias. As part of the College's commitment to an inclusive campus community, a Bias Incident Response Team 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 reporting protocol found in this document and to report promptly any incidents that violate the standards that we as a community seek to uphold.
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 on the basis of age, gender or gender identity, race, color, national origin, sexual and affectional orientation/association, military or veteran status, marital status, mental/physical disability, genetic information, ethnic origin, religion, or any other characteristic protected by law.
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.
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 on the basis of age, gender or gender identity, race, color, national origin, sexual and affectional orientation/association, military or veteran status, marital status, mental/physical disability, genetic information, ethnic origin, religion, or any other characteristic protected by law. 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 (Penal Law Article 485).
A person commits a hate crime when he or she commits a specified offense and either:
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.
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.
All members of the Hamilton community are urged to report promptly any bias incident directed against a Hamilton community member or group that occurs on-campus or at any Hamilton-sponsored off-campus event. To report an incident or crime in progress call the Campus Safety emergency line at 315-859-4000 immediately.
Please note: 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. Reported conduct that may be a violation of law may also be referred to local law enforcement agencies.
Portions of this policy were adapted from policies of NCHERM, SUNY University at Buffalo and Skidmore College.