Bias Definitions

For assistance and support with understanding these definitions, please contact BERT at

The University defines a bias incident as any speech, act or harassing action that targets, attacks or restricts the free movement of an individual, a group, or property of an individual or group because of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sex, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, age, or any other protected personal characteristic.

The University of San Francisco's Bias Education and Resource Team (BERT)  works to provide support and resources to students, faculty, and staff who have witnessed, or themselves become a target of, an act of bias.

A hate crime is defined as any crime that manifests evidence that a victim was selected because of actual or perceived race; gender; gender identity; religion; sexual ori­entation; ethnicity; national origin or disability.  A hate crime is not a separate, distinct crime, but is the commission of a criminal offense which was motivated by the offender's bias.  If the facts of the case indicate that the offender was motivated to commit the offense because of bias against the victim's perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sex, gender identity, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, beliefs, sexual orientation, age, or any other protected personal characteristic, the crime is classified as a hate crime. For more information on the definition and classification of hate/bias crimes, visit this link.

A hate crime must meet two criteria:

  • A crime must happen, such as physical assault, intimidation, arson or vandalism;
  • The crime must be motivated, in whole or in part, by bias.

Hate crimes involving students, faculty, and/or staff, if charged and prosecuted, will be dealt with in the court system. They typically carry enhanced penalties, such as longer sentences.

Bias incidents involving students, faculty, and/or staff can occur with no clear procedure for recourse within the criminal justice system but will be addressed within the university.

"Microaggressions are the brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults that target a person or group. Perpetrators are usually unaware that they have engaged in an exchange that demeans the recipient of the communication." (Sue 2010: 5)

Microaggressions can only be directed at minorities or other non-dominant group. Three forms of microaggressions can be identified: microassault, microinsult, and microinvalidation.

Works Cited

Sue, Derald Wing. Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.