What Is a Bias Incident or Hate Crime?

Bias Incident

A bias incident is an act - verbal, written, or physical that is motivated by negative preconceptions about an individual or group based on age, veteran status, color, disability, gender expression, gender identity, ethnicity/national origin, native language, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. These actions may be deliberately or unintentionally hurtful and can occur in a variety of forms. Two primary types of bias are microaggressions and hate crimes, which are defined below.


Microaggressions are verbal and behavioral acts, motivated by bias, that undermine the humanity, sense of belonging, and respect of individuals belonging to socially, economically, and politically marginalized groups. Microaggressions may induce psychological/emotional injury and harm, and violate Goucher’s Community Principles.

Hate Crime

Federal and state statutes on hate crimes vary in terms of the acts and categories of bias that are covered. In Maryland, it is a hate crime to commit a criminal offense against a person or his or her property because of the person’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability, national origin, or because that person is homeless. Depending on the underlying criminal act, the hate crime may be considered a separate misdemeanor or felony and the offender may be subject to additional sentencing beyond that imposed for the underlying crime.

Behavior reflecting bias may constitute a violation of Goucher College Regulations. 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, stalking, vandalism, destruction of personal property, harassment, or coercion. We strongly encourage reporting of all bias incidents and hate crimes that occur on campus or at college sponsored events and activities occurring off campus.

Note: All hate crimes are bias incidents, but not all bias incidents are hate crimes.