In the University of Tennessee System, we aspire to strengthen an environment of inclusive excellence for all faculty, staff and students as part of our BE ONE UT values. Our commitment to Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement is an integral component of academic and community success for individuals from all backgrounds and perspectives. Adherence to any one worldview is not a prerequisite to success at UT Southern (see Viewpoint Diversity), and our efforts in the areas of inclusion and diversity are always aimed to help the students, faculty, and staff at UT Southern succeed.
Request Support, Training, or Make a Report
It is our hope to provide UT Southern with relevant, helpful, and timely resources for learning, training, thinking.
If you are interested in education or training on a particular topic, please contact the Chief Diversity Officer. University employees may also want to explore Inclusion and Diversity trainings available on-demand via K@TE. Such trainings are voluntary for all members of our UT Southern community.
All University employees will be contacted about completed training regarding non-discrimination requirements of federal and state laws.
If you have concerns about an incident regarding discrimination or other behavior inconsistent with UT values, please reach out to the Chief Diversity Officer.
What is Bias?
The University of Tennessee Southern is committed to maintaining a safe environment grounded in civility and respect for all members within the campus community. Generally, we understand bias to be defined as below:
A “bias” is defined as any act that is motivated, in whole or in part, due to an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, veteran status, religion and/or religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, weight, political affiliation, medical condition, mental health, or any combination of these or related factors.
Bias related-incidents are incidents that occur on campus or within an area that impacts the campus community, and are directed at a member or a group of the UTS community due to that individual’s or group’s actual or perceived age, race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, national origin, veteran status, religion and/or religious practice, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, weight, political affiliation, medical condition, mental health, or any combination of these or related factors.
Technically there is no such thing as a hate crime/speech. Certain crimes may be motivated by hate/bias, and designated as such (mostly for purposes of sentencing). So, we may have a vandalism (just an example) that is motivated by bias, but the criminal offense is still vandalism. When we enter the crime in our reporting system, we will note that it appears to be motivated by bias/hate. That fact may be used in the sentencing phase of a trial, but the actual criminal charge is still the same. We would note any crime that appears to be motivated by hate/bias as such. The Clery Act notes certain crimes that we must count as hate/bias if we have evidence to support this, and they are counted both for the crime at issue and the hate/bias. Our Annual Security Report would be the only location we would actually double count these numbers.
The state of Tennessee does not have a law regarding hate crime/speech. There is no statute that makes it criminal to hate or perceive bias against someone else. Only when another crime is committed, and it is motivated by that hate or bias, is that factored in. Even then, it is predominantly factored into sentencing (or possibly considered for setting a bond amount).
The only reference of Hate Crime in LexisNexis is T.C.A. § 49-7-137. Instruction to raise awareness and prevent hate crimes and sexual offenses. The board of regents and the University of Tennessee board of trustees are strongly encouraged to offer instruction aimed at increasing the awareness and prevention of hate crime offenses, sexual battery, sexual harassment and date rape to all entering freshmen during orientation or introductory studies.
Clery Reporting of Crimes Motivated by Bias/Hate
Crimes motivated by bias are reportable to Clery. Clery would count a hate/bias crime in both the category it fits (ex. Assault) and in the Hate/Bias category. It is important as well to note that Tennessee Law and Clery have nothing to do with one another. However, like TN law, incidents of hate/bias would only be reported to Clery if they were first deemed a crime under Clery. Hate or bias itself is not a crime. In order for a “hate crime” to be reportable to Clery….
- It has to have occurred on UT owned or controlled property
- It has to involve one of the Clery Act reportable crimes* which are:
- Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter
- Incest & Statutory Rape
- Aggravated Assault
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Dating Violence
- Domestic Violence
- The “bias” must be motivated by one of these categories:
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- In order for one of these crimes to be categorized as hate crime, there needs to be some sort of evidence that proves the act of violence was done as a result of some sort of hate or bias.
*In addition to the crimes listed above, there are four additional crimes that can be motivated by bias and be reported to Clery (these four offenses are not reportable to Clery if they are not motivated by bias), they are:
- Simple assault
- Larceny – Theft
- Destruction/damage/vandalism of property
Freedom of Speech and Response to Reports of Bias
In responding to reports of bias, UTS will not violate the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, or staff.
Even when an incident of bias occurs, disciplinary or corrective action may not be taken toward the offender if it is determined that the act of bias was a protected exercise of their freedom of expression.
As a result, in many situations, our response to a bias incident will take the form of supporting the students adversely impacted by the bias incident. Our team will also facilitate services such as counseling, health services, or other referrals as needed to address safety concerns and to provide assistance and comfort to those impacted.
Chief Diversity Officer
Sarah Catherine Richardson
Dean of Students | Chief Diversity Officer | Title IX Coordinator
Sarah Catherine is available for all faculty, staff, students, and community members regarding issues around inclusion and diversity. Sarah Catherine also serves on the UT Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement (UT IDE) Strategic Alliance, which seeks to create a diverse and fully inclusive environment for faculty, staff and students.