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Bias Motivated Incidents

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The office of Victim Assistance provides information and support about many difficult topics. Click below to browse all topics.

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General Information

Bias motivated incidents involve behavior that is motivated by bias based on perceived race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, age or sexual orientation and has a negative impact. Incidents of bias can take many different forms and the impact can vary. Comments or actions that are degrading or devaluing may be considered to be bias incidents.  The important thing to note is the impact on the person experiencing the incident.

A bias motivated incident could constitute a hate crime if a criminal act takes place.  In addition it may constitute discrimination or harassment. Regardless of the form, if you feel that you have experienced bias the The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) can offer support.

What to Do
If you feel that you have been the target of a bias motivated incident you may have questions about what your options are.  Bias is pervasive and can take many different forms.  Depending on the nature of the incident you may have specific needs such as reporting, support, housing or academic concerns. 

Experiencing bias in general can take a toll on your day to day life.  Taking care of yourself may involve getting help.  Seeking support takes many different forms.  Individuals who are the target of bias often look to their communities first for understanding and advice.  There is often important historical or anecdotal information about how the impact of bias has played out in your community in the past, as well as about the strategies people have used to resist or engage with it.  If you haven’t found community connections at CU this might be a time to seek those out.  OVA staff is willing to help you find connections.

Discussing the situation with someone may help you sort out your feelings and decide what to do. While you may want to talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, co-worker, family member or spiritual advisor, there are also resources available on campus.

You may seek out a supervisor, professor or individual in a position of power to help remedy the situation but keep in mind that if you tell a university employee they may have a supervisory duty to report.

When you seek help from professionals, first ask what their confidentiality is, and who they are required to tell if you were to disclose your situation.  That way, you can make an informed decision.

Some things you might discuss:

  • figuring out what you feel and think about what’s going on. 
  • getting information that will help you assesses the situation, and figure out what you want.
  • talking about how to manage your academics, or work given your situation.
  • talking about making a safety plan if applicable.  There are many strategies available.
  • getting medical treatment if you have injuries or are worried about your health.
  • changing where you live to get some space, or safety. There is community help with this.
  • reporting to the police or the CU Office of Judicial Affairs or Office of Discrimination and Harassment if appropriate.

If you are not ready to talk to somebody but want to get more information about your situation, the web is a great place to do that.  If you are concerned about privacy, you should know that most computers keep track of websites you visit.  There is a lot of useful information on the web, and it might be best to seek these resources on a public computer such as at a lab on campus, a public library or at a friend’s house.
OVA can provide you with information that may be helpful in dealing with your situation and is a confidential resource with no duty to report.
If you’d like to know more about how people sometimes react to these kinds of events, click here.
If the bias you are experiencing is affecting your living environment, OVA may be able to help you arrange housing. 

If you are worried about how this situation may be impacting your schoolwork, that’s important to notice.  You deserve to be in school and to meet your goals. For instance, it can be extremely difficult to concentrate in class especially if the person enacting the bias is the professor, or a fellow student in the class. The OVA can discuss options for managing academic issues while maintaining privacy.  There are concrete things the University can do to help with your situation. 

Protective Orders
A protective order is a legal document obtained through the courts that puts restrictions on individuals who may be dangerous to you.  If they violate these restrictions they can be sanctioned by the court.
If you have questions about obtaining a protective order you can talk to an advocate in the OVA or call the Boulder Protective Order Clinic at 303-441-4867 or, if there is no answer, call Safehouse at 303-449-8623.  You can also learn more online at
Depending on the situation campus authorities may be able to offer an exclusion of individuals responsible for certain kinds of bias related incidents.  To learn more consult the OVA or UCPD. 

For content specific information about reporting see below.  For general information about reporting and the possibilities and limits of working with systems click here.

If you have experienced a bias motivated incident, reporting the behavior to the police is an option.  Reporting can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the filing of criminal charges.  Some people simply want to file an “informational” report with the intention of making the police aware of their situation but without pursuing charges.  Other people are interested in having the police contact the person and give a verbal warning.  At the same time, many people choose to file criminal charges. This might include getting names of witnesses, saving emails, text messages or voice messages related to the incident as well as taking pictures of injuries, damage, graffiti or supporting materials.  You can also get copies of relevant medical records. OVA can talk with you about reporting issues, as well as help you make connections with the police if you want help in assessing the situation. 

Reporting to the Office of Judicial Affairs or Office of Discrimination and Harassment

The Office of Judicial Affairs (OJA) adjudicates the student code of conduct. If person who enacted bias against you is a student at CU, they may be in violation of the code.  If you would like to know more about what the Office of Judicial Affairs process is like, you can contact OVA or the Office of Judicial Affairs directly, or look at their website

If bias was enacted by a faculty or staff member, you may want to consider reporting to the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH).  ODH investigates university policy infractions and may have jurisdiction over your situation.  You can learn more at:

The OJA and the ODH can provide another avenue for reporting and may be able to sanction the offending party or help with an informal solution.  The OJA or ODH processes are different from criminal or civil processes.  You can choose one or both (unless this is an intimate partner violence situation).    You can contact OJA or ODH anonymously to get a better understanding of how they might handle your situation, or OVA can help you with getting that assessment. 

Confidential Reporting
If you do not want to or have not yet decided whether to report officially, you can still inform a confidential resource of bias related, violent or abusive experiences on this campus.

Completing this form does not constitute a report to the University and will not initiate any law enforcement, judicial or administrative action.

This information goes to a confidential office, the Office of Victim Assistance, and will not be shared except in aggregate, non-identifiable form. The OVA can help you with support, information and referrals.

For Confidential Reporting, click here.

How to Help
If someone you know is the target of bias, there are ways you may be able to help.

  • First, take the situation seriously. It is important that your friend or colleague feel believed and understood. 
  • If you have been the target of a similar situation your experience may help.   Your friend’s reaction may differ, and their choices may differ, but knowing that they aren’t alone can be helpful in itself.
  • If you haven’t been the target of a similar situation, you can listen, and then learn more about how bias impacts people (see links below).
  • Ask the person how they feel the situation is impacting their life.  Are they having a hard time concentrating on school work?  Do they feel they can no longer work productively at their job?
  • Encourage the person to keep a record of the behavior, including dates, places, times and witnesses.
  • Don’t investigate the situation or overreact.  It is important that the person experiencing the bias have the opportunity to address the situation at their own pace. 
  • If you are a CU employee, you may have a reporting obligation.  Click here to learn more.
  • Consider referring the person to the OVA or another resource such as the GLBT Resource Center, The Center for Multicultural Affairs, Disability Services or the Women’s Resource Center  for support and options. 

What can I do to make a difference?

Action steps:

  • If you have been the target of bias consider connecting with others who have had similar experiences.
  • Practice recognizing and challenging bias in yourself and others – you’ll get better over time.
  • Challenge yourself to consider if you use derogatory terms in describing yourself or others.
  • Challenge yourself to notice the patterns of your own daily life: who do you see, who do you know, what are your beliefs about yourself and other people, and how might those beliefs perpetuate inequity?
  • Educate yourself about systemic forms of inequity that contribute to a climate in which some people are more likely to feel that they have permission to perpetrate violence.
  • Work with organizations with social justice goals to help bring about change on a societal level.


GLBT Resource Center 
Center for Multicultural Affairs
Disability Services 
Interactive Theate Project
What is a Bystander
Becoming an Ally
Women’s Resource Center

Dialogue Network
Information on biased language
Do’s and Don’ts of Inclusive Language

Arte Sana- for survivors of gender and racial violence

For Bystander Training, call Community Health Resource Center at 303-492-2937.

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