Whatcom Community College is committed to creating a dynamic learning atmosphere rich with opportunities for freedom of expression and the pursuit of educational growth for students, faculty and staff.  The College will act swiftly and effectively when hate crimes and bias incidents are reported. The College’s responses are governed by the Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy (Student Code of Conduct), Civility Policy and the Affirmation of Inclusion, as well as local, state or federal civil rights laws and regulations.

A bias incident is conduct, speech or expression that is motivated by bias based on the person’s group status but which does not involve criminal behavior that could potentially cause alarm, anger, or fear in others, or that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of a member of the College community, even if presented as a joke.  A hate crime is a committed criminal offense which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

Whatcom Community College is committed to evaluating and assessing each incident in a timely manner and will respond using both an equity and educational lens. 

Bias Incident Reporting Team Members

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) includes members from across campus.  BIRT’s role is to discuss incidents and respond appropriately.  The team meets when incidents are reported and may pull in other campus stakeholders on a need to know basis.  Confidentiality will be honored whenever possible.

BIRT includes representation from:

  • Access and Disability Services
  • Campus Diversity Committee
  • Campus Safety and Security
  • Community Standards and Residence Life
  • Counselors
  • Faculty
  • Human Resources
  • Intercultural Center
  • International Programs
  • Marketing and Communications

Reporting Bias

If you witness, encounter or suspect incidents of bias, you are encouraged to file a report, which will be reviewed by the Bias Incident Report Team.  If you’re unsure how to interpret an incident and believe there may be a connection to bias, please file a report.  Whenever possible, bias reports will be reviewed within two to four business days.

File a Report

Accommodations and support for submitting a report are available by contacting one of the following BIRT Members:

 Janis V. Farmer  jfarmer@whatcom.edu  360.383.3098
 Becky Rawlings  brawlings@whatcom.edu   360.383.3400
 Terri Thayer   tthayer@whatcom.edu    360.383.3068
 Raquel ‘Rocky’ Vernola   rvernola@whatcom.edu    360.383.3394

 

Free Speech and Bias

Whatcom is committed to freedom of expression, and with that commitment comes the recognition that members of our community may express unpopular views. It is our shared responsibility to honor diverse perspectives, and to create welcoming and respectful learning environments. Free speech will be protected and applied fairly, regardless of content. However, speech that impedes on the rights of others, incites violence, or breaks any other laws or policies of the College may be held accountable under the Student Conduct Code. Additionally, it is possible ‘free speech’ to also be a bias incident and should be reported.  Learn more about freedom of expression, bias language, and microaggressions.

Possible Outcomes

Depending on the nature of the reported incident, the WCC BIRT Team may:

  • Offer support and information regarding available resources.
  • Ensure the report is properly routed for investigation and resolution in accordance with applicable policy and principles academic freedom, of free speech and expression.
  • Inform and consult with the Behavioral Intervention Team, and key campus stakeholders regarding a possible institutional response.
  • Coordinate support for community healing and educational outreach.
  • Assess avenues for minimizing and/or eliminating future incidents of bias.

Individuals who submit a report and identify themselves may be contacted for more detail. Anonymous reports also may be submitted. Other College offices, such as Campus Safety and Security, Counseling, Office of Community Standards, the Student Complaint Process, and Human Resources will be consulted as needed. The team will compile and analyze data from submitted reports to inform future educational and prevention efforts.

Institutional responses may include:

  • Notice to the community about the incident.
  • Individual outreach to an impacted party or parties.
  • Offer of support and assistance to affected individuals/communities (typically in the form of counseling services).
  • Provide educational workshops or seminars.
  • Remove graffiti or flyers.
  • Connect affected parties to relevant resources.
  • Document cases of bias to identify patterns
  • Initiate proceedings under WCC’s student conduct code, the general campus conduct code or processes where appropriate.

FAQs

What is a bias incident?
What is a hate crime?
Can I submit a report anonymously?
Is my report confidential?
What happens after I submit a report?
Will my report result in an investigation?
How can I report a bias incident?
Why are bias incidents a concern? Why should I report?