Cornell College, as a liberal arts institution, has a dual responsibility to both create an environment of inclusion and safety for its students and to protect freedom of expression. We also include among our community expectations that we “respect the dignity of all persons,” and “maintain a caring, safe environment.”

Bias-related behaviors include speech or other behaviors which have the purpose or effect of unreasonably or substantially interfering with an individual's safety, security, or educational opportunities by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or working environment. Bias-related behaviors fall outside the bounds of civil discourse and are not tolerated on Cornell’s campus. 

Because bias-related behaviors frequently involve speech, it is necessary – as well as possible – to distinguish such speech from the open and respectful expression of ideas and opinions. Speech that conveys reasoned opinion, principled conviction, political satire, or speculation is not harassment, even though it may challenge people’s perspectives or comfort. Similarly, speech and consideration of concepts that are pertinent to a class’s subject but which some students may find offensive do not constitute bias-related behavior. However, claiming that the speech is merely an expression of ideas or opinions is not a sufficient defense against a charge that the behavior is bias-related.

Allegations of student harassment, discrimination or other bias-related behavior will be investigated and addressed through the Student Conduct Process. Processes for addressing possible harassment, discrimination or other bias-related behavior by Cornell College faculty or staff can be found in the Faculty and Employee Handbooks.


Bias-Related Behavior: Bias-related behavior broadly encompasses actions that may involve the use of images, language or behaviors that directly or indirectly demonstrate hostility or contempt toward a person or group on the basis of actual or perceived identity. Discrimination, harassment and hate crimes are specific examples of types of bias-related behavior.

Discrimination: Discrimination is conduct that involves inequitable treatment of a person based on that individual’s actual or perceived identity.

Harassment: Harassment is conduct that creates or contributes to a pervasively hostile or demeaning environment. Harassment deprives individuals of access to or full and free participation in the life of the college.

Hate Crime: A hate crime is an act which violates state or federal criminal law and is motivated by the offender’s bias against an actual or perceived identity. While all hate crimes are bias incidents, not all bias incidents involve criminal acts.


Students who have experienced an incident they believe involves bias-related behavior are encouraged to complete a Bias-Related Incident Report. This report may be completed anonymously, but students should be aware that filing an anonymous report significantly limits the ability of the college to investigate the incident.

Students may also initiate a report of a potentially bias-related incident by contacting the Dean of Students, Directors of Campus Safety and Intercultural Life, or other members of the college faculty or staff.  If an incident involves a possible crime, students may also directly contact the Mt. Vernon Police Department (319-895-6141) or other law enforcement or civil agencies.

Approved by the Faculty Student Life Committee; April 3, 2013