Definitions

Below are definitions of terms that are commonly used in conversations about creating a safe and respectful climate, as adopted by the University of Michigan. These definitions, however, should not be interpreted as legal definitions used to determine if a violation of law has occurred.

For a PDF file listing additional definitions related to crimes, see the U-M Campus Safety Handbook. PLEASE NOTE: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

 

Assault – an intentional act, verbal or physical, that can be described as creating fear of physical harm.

Battery – an intentional and unwanted act of physical contact.

Bias – a pre-formed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common physical characteristics, such as skin color; or cultural experiences, such as religion or national origin.

Bias incident – non-criminal activity committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.

Campus climate – the general atmosphere of the campus as a unique society; the degree to which members of the campus community feel included and respected.

Civility – courteous behavior; the act of showing regard for others.

Creed – a religious faith or belief.

Disability – a physical or mental impairment that substantially affects one or more major life activities.

Disability Bias – a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their physical or mental impairments or challenges.

Discrimination – unfair treatment of a person or a class of persons, without regard to individual merit, based on their membership in a group, personal characteristics, or perceived identity. See also the University’s policy of nondiscrimination, SPG 201.35.

Diversity – the variation of social and cultural identities among people existing together in a community.

Ethnicity – state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Ethnicity/National Origin Bias – a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons of the same race or national origin who share common or similar traits, languages, customs and traditions.

Gender – state of being male or female, typically with reference to social or cultural differences rather than biological.

Gender identity – the internal sense of one’s gendered self (e.g. as a woman, man, girl, boy, androgynous) or of being perceived as a woman or man, etc.

Gender expression – how a person’s gender identity is communicated to others, through behavior, clothing, hairstyle, voice, and emphasizing, de-emphasizing or changing physical characteristics.

Harassment – unwanted negative attention perceived as intimidating, demeaning or bothersome to an individual. See also the University’s Interim Policy on Discriminatory Harassment, SPG 201.89-1 Interim Policy on Discriminatory Harassment.

Hate Crime – a criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.

Hate Group – an organization whose primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility and malice against persons belonging to a different race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.

Inclusiveness – creating a hospitable and welcoming environment; interacting with all members of the community without regard to individual characteristics.

Indirect Discrimination – a rule, policy, practice or procedure that is the same for everyone, but has an unequal or disproportionate effect for a specific group of people.

Intimidation – to influence others through fear or threat of harm.

Intolerance – an attitude of not accepting or respecting different opinions, practices or people.

Perceived Bias – biased behavior directed at another person based on characteristics that the perpetrator perceives the victim possesses.

Prejudice – preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience; dislike, hostility or unjust behavior formed on such a bias.

Race – a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; a group or set of people with a common physical feature or features.

Racial Bias – a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons who possess common physical characteristics, such as color of skin, eyes and/or hair, facial features, etc.

Religious Bias – a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a 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.

Respect – a due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others.

Sexual Orientation Bias – a preformed negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons based on their sexual attraction toward, and responsiveness to, members of their own sex or members of the opposite sex.

Sexuality – a person’s sexual orientation or preference.

Tolerance – respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human; harmony in difference.

Transgender – a term describing persons whose gender identities, expressions or behaviors are not those traditionally associated with their birth sex.

Vandalism – the destruction or alteration of property (individual, public or communal).