B.E.R.T. Information & Terminology

What is a Bias Incident?


Bias Incident – A “Bias Incident” is defined an act – either verbal, written, physical, or psychological that threatens or harms a person or group on the basis of actual or perceived race, religion, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, atypical heredity or cellular blood trait, military service or veteran status. Two categories of Bias Incidents according to American College Personnel Association (ACPA) are:

Contained Bias Incident - a comment, activity, or event that is seen or heard by a few people (e.g., in a small meeting, 1-1), is not a violation of a policy or law, or has no interest from media or larger investigative bodies 

Community Bias Incident - a comment, activity, or event that is seen or heard by many, violates policies or laws, or has interest from the media or larger investigative bodies


Bias Incident or Hate Crime?


According to Bias Crime and Community Relations Initiative, a person is guilty of a bias intimidation crime under New Jersey law if he/she commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense with the purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity. Such an offense also constitutes a bias intimidation crime if the manner in which the offense is committed causes the victim to reasonably believe either:


1.  that the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity;

2.  that the victim or his property was selected to be the target because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

While bias incidents often involve hate, and bias is a component of hate crimes, hate crimes are more narrowly defined by FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) as:


“A committed criminal offense that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias(es) against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity; also known as Hate Crime.
Rutgers University-Newark takes all incidents of bias seriously and will modify its response based on the severity and impact of what has happened.

Examples of Bias (from the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)):

Disability Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their physical or mental impairments, whether such disability is temporary or permanent, congenital or acquired by heredity, accident, injury, advanced age, or illness.

Ethnicity Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, common culture (often including a shared religion) and/or ideology that stresses common ancestry. The concept of ethnicity differs from the closely related term race in that "race" refers to grouping based mostly upon biological criteria, while "ethnicity" also encompasses additional cultural factors.

Gender Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived gender, i.e., male or female.

Gender Identity Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived gender identity, e.g., bias against transgender or gender nonconforming individuals.

Ancestry Bias–A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of people based on their common lineage or descent.

Racial Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons who possess common physical characteristics, e.g., color of skin, eyes, and/or hair, facial features, etc., genetically transmitted by descent and heredity which distinguish them as a distinct division of humankind, e.g., Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Whites.

Religious Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons who share the same religious beliefs regarding the origin and purpose of the universe and the existence or nonexistence of a supreme being, e.g., Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc.

Sexual-Orientation Bias - A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Military/Veteran Bias: A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived military affiliation and or veteran status. 

Atypical Heredity or Cellular Blood Trait Bias: A preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a person or group of persons based on their actual or perceived atypical heredity or cellular blood traits. Atypical Heredity or Cellular Blood traits includes the sickle cell trait, hemoglobin C trait, thalassemia trait, TaySachs trait, cystic fibrosis trait, or HIV/AIDS status.