University tells students to dial 9-1-1 over 'bias incidents'

The school's website urges students to contact 911 immediately. Students can also submit an anonymous report through EthicsPoint, a third party website.

The university defines a bias incident as "a speech, act, or harassing action that targets, threatens, or attacks an individual or group because of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation."

Students at Santa Clara University are supposed call to report any and all “bias incidents” to 911.

“If the bias incident is in progress or just occurred: ALWAYS CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY,” the university website states.

The university defines a “bias incident” as “a speech, act, or harassing action that targets, threatens, or attacks an individual or group because of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sex, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.”

The university website does not provide any examples of “bias incidents” but universities with similar policies included “microaggressive comments” and “writing on a whiteboard” as bias incidents.

A bias incident brochure listed on the university’s website warns students that “SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY PROHIBITS BEHAVIOR MOTIVATED BY BIAS.”

The brochure states that after a bias incident report is filed, “[t]he University will conduct an in-depth investigation.”

The brochure lists several “Rights of the Complainant” (i.e. the student filing the report) including the right to “request and receive information about the investigation at any time” and the right “receive campus escorts at any time for as long as the complainant(s) feel(s) the service is needed.”

In addition to reporting the incident directly to the university, students can also file an anonymous report through EthicsPoint, a service that allows users to “communicate issues and concerns associated with unethical or illegal activities safely and honestly. . .while maintaining [users’] anonymity and confidentiality.”

The EthicsPoint page for Santa Clara states that bias incidents “involving only students will be adjudicated through the Office of Student Life and/or referred to federal, state, or local authorities.”

The EthicsPoint report form for Student Bias Instances at Santa Clara allows students to report bias incidents even if they weren’t directly involved in the alleged bias; students can report bias incidents that they overheard. Not only can students use EthicsPoint to anonymously turn in the perpetrator of the alleged bias incident but they can also turn in “any persons who have attempted to conceal” the bias incident.

The Santa Clara Police Department referred Campus Reform to the university's Student Life department for comment. 

Campus Reform spoke with Lester Deanes, the Assistant Dean for Student Life, who said that microaggressions are covered under the bias incident policy. Deanes emphasized, however, that the bias incident policy isn’t exclusively limited to microaggressions and that the university intentionally left the definition broad so as to encourage students to come forward with whatever they felt needed to be brought to the university’s attention.

Deanes estimated that the university receives roughly 5-10 reports each year. He also said that the policy has been in place for approximately seven years.

Social media bias incidents, Deanes continued, are handled on a “case by case basis.”

The university claims that bias incidents are prohibited under Section 10 of the Student Conduct Code, which prohibits (in part) “degrading language or actions” and “any practice by a group or individual that degrades a student or employee.”

Santa Clara is a Catholic university in Santa Clara, Calif. that advertises itself as “The Jesuit University in Silicon Valley.”

As part of the university’s “Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program,” Santa Clara offers several training courses including “Exploring Impacts of Implicit Bias & Microaggressionsin Higher Education” and “Speaking Up to Bias.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @peterjhasson