As members of Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, we share the University’s commitment to creating a learning environment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, we acknowledge that no campus community is removed from larger systemic issues, such as racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, and classism.
Undergraduate Student Life and its partners have worked with students and key administrative offices to develop a protocol for responding to acts of hate and bias/discrimination in our community in order to better create a safe and secure environment for all of our students.
Students who witness, hear of, or are victim to acts of bias and hate should immediately contact Public Safety at 212-854-5555. Once Public Safety is notified, the Bias and Discrimination Response Team is alerted, and several steps are taken to respond to the needs of our community.
Once notified of an incident, Public Safety will provide any immediate assistance necessary regarding safety. If there is physical harm or threat of harm to individuals involved, Public Safety will provide appropriate support and action. If the act is in the form of public defacement of property, Public Safety will secure the premises and/or cover-up the area until:
- thorough documentation is taken;
- the defacement is removed by Facilities, a unit which also is contacted immediately after the initial report to Public Safety.
Documentation by Public Safety includes formally taking an incident report and gathering information (e.g. taking photographs of defacement of property, interviewing victims or witnesses to an act).
If the incident may involve a hate crime, NYPD will be contacted. (See “Disciplinary Action for Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents” for more information).
For individual(s) who may be specifically targeted:
Members of the Discrimination/Bias Response team (e.g. Multicultural Affairs, Residential Programs, Center for Student Advising) meet with the individual(s) to address the personal, physical, emotional, and psychological safety of those targeted. While providing ongoing support and referrals to additional resources as needed, the staff works with the student(s) involved in creating an appropriate community response. Depending on the nature of an incident, personal situation, and concern of safety, a student may not want wide publicity. In such cases, the University will be considerate of the student’s wishes and attempt to minimize and/or limit the publicity to the extent possible. However, reporting the incident will still help inform general community education programs and support services.
For a community or communities that may be targeted:
Members of the Discrimination/Bias Response team meet with members or organizational leaders of communities most immediately targeted by the bias-related act. In the initial meeting, students are alerted to the incident and have the opportunity to share their concerns and the concerns heard among their peers. Administrators will collaborate with students to create needed programs to support their communities internally as well as programs to educate the campus. Follow- up meetings to plan and implement programs, to provide ongoing support, and to continue dialogue are held as needed.
In addition to Public Safety notifying relevant administrative units and Undergraduate Student Life staff notifying targeted constituencies, outreach to the general CC/SEAS community takes place when appropriate. After meeting with, consulting, and receiving consent from the individual(s) or constituencies most affected, public notification (through email, floor meetings, or other forums) will be sent out to students describing the nature of the incident and reminding all that these acts are against the collective principles of our community. The amount of details about the incident that will be disclosed to the community will depend on several factors including but not limited to the decision of the students/ groups most targeted, level of concern that repeating exact details may re-victimize targeted person(s), and pending legal and judicial processes.
Response programming is informed and shaped by meetings with student leaders and individual(s) and communities most affected. Undergraduate Student Life staff and students collaborate to create relevant forums, town halls, and dialogues. Additionally, all documentation and records of incidents help inform future programming and improvement of existing programs and services. For instance, if biased or hateful behavior seems to stem from misinformation of particular communities’ cultures or experiences, new programming or better promotion of current resources can be implemented. Similarly, if a bias- related action continually occurs, educational campaigns and accompanying dialogues can be held.
Disciplinary Action for Hate Crimes and Discrimination/Bias Incidents
Hate crimes/ bias-related incidents involve behavior that is motivated by hostility to race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, age, or disability. We understand the deep pain and consequence hate crimes and discrimination/bias-related actions have on our entire community. Any behavior motivated by hate will not be tolerated. Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students involved in perpetrating a hate crime/ bias incident will be subject to an educational and/or disciplinary process determined by Judicial Affairs. Hate crimes are acts of hate and bias that are accompanied by crime through such actions as threats of violence, property damage, personal injury, and other illegal conduct. If a reported incident is designated by the NYPD as a hate crime, perpetrators will be prosecuted under state and federal laws. After a full investigation by the NYPD and the legal process are complete, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students involved will also be subject to a judicial process through Dean’s Discipline, which may result in suspension or expulsion.
Any personal information obtained during the course of an investigation of a hate crime or discrimination/bias-related incident and/or adjudication of such matter will be handled with discretion and kept confidential to the extent possible.