Bias Incident Response Team
WVC is pleased to have a Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), we are able to act quickly and effectively in case of any hate crimes or bias incidents on our campus. The team is made up of members who are all trained on bias incident response protocol and best practices.
Chair: Erin Tofte-Nordvik
Director of Diversity Equity & Inclusion
VP of Student Services
Executive Director of Community Relations
Safety & Security Manager
Director of Facilities & Operations
The College has a zero tolerance for hate crimes and bias incidents and will act swiftly and effectively when such are reported. This protocol is specific to addressing hate crimes or bias incidents particularly those directed at persons identified as protected under WVC’s Non-Discrimination Policy and Procedures.
BIRT will not typically be convened when an incident impacts only a small number of people, but rather when more visible incidents occur that are likely to significantly affect the College community or subpopulations of the college.
The Bias Incident Response Team convenes to ensure that affected student(s) and others have access to appropriate support and to assist the College in a coordinated campus response to bias-related incidents and situations that may impact campus climate. The primary functions of BIRT are to respond, support and communicate to the campus when warranted.
What is a bias incident or hate crime?
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. 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, coercion or the use of oral or written expression of bias involving degrading language or stereotypes. WVC strongly encourages the reporting of all hate crimes and bias incidents that occur on campus or at college sponsored events and activities occurring off campus.
Note: The expression of an idea or point of view some may find offensive or charged is not necessarily a bias-related incident. WVC values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. The expression of controversial ideas and differing views is a vital part of campus discourse. While this value of openness protects controversial ideas, it does not protect harassment or expressions of bias or hate aimed at individuals or groups that violate WVC policies.
Under Washington State law hate crimes are categorized as Malicious harassment.
“A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap:
- Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;
- Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or
- Threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property.
“A crime is an act deemed to be illegal, it becomes a hate crime when it is motivated by bias or prejudice against a person or people perceived to be a part of a group, and that is intended to induce fear, scare, terrify or cause psychological harm.” RCW 9A.36.080
Note: All hate crimes are bias incidents, but not all bias incidents are hate crimes.