Wheaton College Bias Incident Policy

Bias Incident Policy and Procedure

Wheaton College aims to cultivate Christian character defined by intellectual humility, prudence, and temperance. As followers of Christ, we are called to exercise our Christian freedom responsibly in holiness and humility (Eph.1:4, Col. 3:12); to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1-3); to uphold justice, mercy, and the equitable treatment of everyone (Mic. 6:8; Matt. 23:23; James 2:1-13); to edify one another and build up the Body of Christ (Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:11-16). Biased behavior, speech, and/or expressions fundamentally violate this Christian calling and negatively impacts a person’s or group’s experience at the College.

The College seeks to improve the campus climate by identifying and remediating incidents, whether by facilitating restorative, reconciling conversations among campus stakeholders, or by invoking disciplinary action when needed to help foster equality, and promote a sense of belonging for all by efficiently and fairly addressing bias incidents.


Bias-related incidents are antagonistic physical, verbal, virtual, and/or written behavior toward a person or group based on their protected class status as defined in the College’s Nondiscrimination Policy. Some bias-related incidents may also constitute acts of discrimination, harassment and/or bullying; in such cases, the incident will be adjudicated under the applicable college policy and procedure.

The College encourages the reporting of bias-related incidents that are directed toward a person, or a group based on a non-protected class status in the report form under the category, “other”.

Scope of Response

The instructions and procedures outlined in this Policy are intended for Wheaton students, employees, and other college community members (e.g., alumni, volunteers, parents, etc.). Persons not affiliated with Wheaton College who experience a bias-related incident on Wheaton’s campus may also submit an online report. Wheaton College may modify its response protocols, depending on the circumstances.

What Should You Do if a Bias Incident Is Believed to Have Occurred?

The College encourages the reporting of suspected bias-related incidents involving Wheaton College employees or students by completing a Bias Incident Report Form. Completing a report helps the College offer support to individuals as well as respond to incidents in a way that can educate the community and cultivate a healthier working and learning environment. Reports can be submitted by those who experienced and/or witnessed a bias-related incident. Individuals submitting a report may include their name and contact information or may submit the report anonymously. When reporters identify themselves, the appropriate person can follow up to seek additional information and provide referrals to needed resources. If a reporter chooses to remain anonymous, this may limit Wheaton’s ability to fully address issues that are raised.

In making reports about bias-related incidents, it is helpful for the College to learn about the incident as quickly as possible with as much information as possible. Information that can be useful (where applicable) includes photographs; copies of emails or text messages; written transcriptions of verbal comments made immediately after the incident; and names as well as contact information for witnesses or others involved in an incident. When completing a report, please be as factually specific as possible; details of incidents are more helpful for evaluation than labels or characterizations alone. Individuals are encouraged to report bias-related incidents even if they do not have supporting information and/or there is a significant time lapse between the incident and the report; these factors may affect the College’s ability to respond to the incident. Similarly, individuals are encouraged to submit reports about bias-related incidents even if they do not know who is responsible.

As a Christian community seeking to live out an ethic of care, Wheaton College community members are also encouraged to practice gracious and conscientious bystander intervention. While attempting to intervene in a situation may not always be appropriate (e.g., if there is a physical safety threat), at other times, one of the most effective ways to counteract bias is to identify it immediately after it occurs.


Retaliation against an individual who makes a report or who participates in the information-gathering or resolution of such a report is prohibited. Retaliation occurs when materially adverse action—including reputational harm—is taken against an individual due to participation in the activity protected under this Policy.

Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Chief Human Resources Officer (for staff matters), Vice President for Student Development (for student matters), and/or Provost (for faculty matters). Complaints alleging retaliation will not be adjudicated under the Bias Incident Policy but under other college policies.

College Response to a Submitted Report

Upon receipt of a bias incident report, college officials will review the report and determine necessary measures to address the incident efficiently and fairly.

A reporter who provides his/her contact information and a person(s) about whom a report is made can expect:

  • the report to be evaluated for potential response under appropriate college policies other than the Bias Policy (e.g., harassment and discrimination or bullying);
  • to be contacted by a college official, which creates an opportunity to further describe the incident and discuss desired outcomes as well as procedural options;
  • to receive information about college support resources; and
  • to be notified of follow-up when appropriate (subject to limitations due to student and employee privacy laws).

Wheaton College officials may consider both disciplinary and non-disciplinary responses to reports of bias-related incidents. Responses may include educational activities and facilitated conflict-conversations. Some of the primary objectives of bias-incident response include: providing care, seeking to restore relationships, education, conversation, and (where necessary) accountability. Where possible and appropriate - and in keeping with the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20 - the College will seek to promote interpersonal engagement, leading to a positive resolution.

Coordination with College Offices

Bias incidents that violate policies in the Wheaton College Student Handbook may be referred to the Residence Life office and addressed through the Student Conduct Process. Reports of bias incidents involving staff or faculty may be referred to Human Resources or the Provost as appropriate and addressed under the Employee Handbook and/or Faculty Handbook through a person’s direct supervisor, department head, divisional dean, chief officer, or Vice President.


College officials will seek to respect any request for confidentiality from a person who makes a report. However, college officials may determine that it must disclose some or all the information it receives to comply with legal requirements or processes, or to protect the health and safety of individuals. In addition, responding to a report may result in other individuals learning about an incident; the College cannot guarantee that other individuals who learn about bias-incident reports (e.g., the accused, witnesses) will treat information as confidential.

Updated 8/14/23