How to get help after a bias-related incident
In this annual reminder for all students, Samuel Santos Jr., associate vice provost of Student Affairs for Inclusion, Community, and Integrative Learning, and Mona Hicks, senior associate vice provost and dean of students, outline important information about Stanford's Protected Identity Harm Reporting process.
Content warning: This message contains examples of racism, bigotry, sexism, ableism, and antisemitism. These examples are employed to help us describe the Protected Identity Harm Reporting process.
Dear undergraduate, graduate and professional students,
We are writing today with important information about Stanford’s Protected Identity Harm (PIH) Reporting protocol, a critical tool in addressing incidents of bias. We want to provide you with information you need to help yourself and the student community should anyone experience bias-related harm.
The goal of the PIH process is two-fold: to help students who have been affected by these incidents receive a meaningful response and potential resolution, and to serve as a mechanism for data collection to develop a deeper understanding of our campus climate.
You may have already been aware of this process after an antisemitic incident earlier this year involving a vandalized mezuzah in a graduate residence. Our hope is that the process, in that situation and others, will create an environment where students who report harm will feel heard and supported, with the university taking action as permitted.
What is the PIH Reporting Process?
The PIH Reporting process is the university’s process to address incidents where a community member experiences harm because of their identity. The process addresses conduct or an incident that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis of one or more actual or perceived characteristics: race, color, national origin, gender or sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, marital status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.
Examples of PIH incidents could include targeting a student with racist remarks on social media, making sexist jokes at a party, defacing fliers about LGBTQI+ rights, or calling someone an ableist slur. These incidents can range from microaggressions to macroaggressions and can happen on campus, off campus, or online and can be perpetrated by a known or unknown person.
When an Incident is a Hate Crime
Protected Identity Harm incidents can rise to the level of a hate crime, unlawful discrimination, or harassment, depending on the nature and severity of the incident and whether certain legal requirements are met. For example, defacing the side of a building by painting a swastika is a hate crime. Conduct that rises to the level of a hate crime, unlawful discrimination, or harassment may be referred to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety, Diversity and Access Office, SHARE Title IX Office, the Office of Community Standards, or other university units. A student or community affected by a hate crime would still receive the same support as other bias incidents.
It is important to note that the PIH Reporting process is not a judicial or investigative process. Our goal is to provide harm reduction and a path to resolution for affected individuals or communities. For more information about PIH Reporting, please see these details about the process and these FAQs on the website.
Responding to Student Questions
We’d like to respond to some important questions:
- Why isn’t there a punitive process for all PIH incidents? While the university may denounce these incidents as antithetical to our values and standards, most speech is protected unless it rises to the level of a hate crime, unlawful harassment, or discrimination. Even when harmful speech is protected, we are still here to help; students can still access the PIH Reporting process to address harm.
- Why can zero-tolerance policies exist in high schools, but not colleges? Essentially, the U.S. Supreme Court allows for K-12 schools to restrict speech to a greater degree than colleges. In the state of California, private universities are also accountable to the Leonard Law, which prevents a private university from subjecting a student to disciplinary action for speech that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment or the California Constitution’s free speech clause.
- How are threats assessed on campus? There is a Threat Assessment Team that helps to ascertain perceived threats to campus, communities, and individuals by working with university partners to look at warning signs and prevention techniques.
- Will students get notified about individual reports? Because the PIH Reporting process is not judicial or disciplinary, if we reach out to a responding party, they have a choice to participate (if at all). Individuals involved in a report, whether targeted parties or offending parties, are rarely made public. In matters that constitute hate crimes, harassment, or unlawful discrimination, we comply with privacy laws and university policies when determining what information may be shared.
Changes We Made
We also want to highlight the following changes that were made in the last year:
- Both graduate and undergraduate student leaders in residential spaces received training about bias and the PIH reporting so they can help advise their residents.
- This video created by and for Stanford students explains why it’s helpful to report if you experience harm.
- A website “Stanford Against Hate” was created as a counterpart to the PIH process to help students learn about bias and why it happens. The site offers a proactive approach to bias (whereas the PIH Reporting process is reactive) and promotes the idea that self-care includes community care and respect.
- Dashboard: Last spring, we launched a webpage summarizing significant PIH incidents that can potentially affect the university community at large. The dashboard does not include all reports but does feature those that may rise to certain levels of concern or impact the entire community. The site was developed with and for students to provide greater transparency. This provides an easily and readily accessible online resource describing what happened and how the university is responding.
- We plan to publish a report based on data from previous years so we can work together to better address the campus climate.
- We are offering training to student groups, residential communities, and units to help the campus community better understand process nuances. To learn more, complete this form.
- We are open to feedback about the process. The website includes a feedback form.
We encourage you to check out the website to learn more about the Protected Identity Harm Reporting process or how to report an incident. Please email any questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samuel Santos Jr.
Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students