Addressing bias-related discrimination and harassment

Goshen College is committed to protecting the welfare and safety of all community members. Toward this commitment, GC strives to provide an environment free of inappropriate treatment of individuals where students, staff, and faculty can study and work without having to overcome the barriers of discrimination and harassment.

Goshen College does not condone and will not tolerate bias-related acts toward any individual based on a person’s race, color, ethnicity/ancestry, national origin, sex, gender identity/expression, religion/creed, disability, age, citizenship status or genetic information.

If you have experienced discrimination or harassment, please consider reporting your experience in order to get help addressing the situation and finding the support you need. You can report your experience to any Goshen College employee, Student Life staff, or the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT). You may also complete the Bias-Related Incident Reporting Form. If you are experiencing an emergency, please seek immediate assistance by calling 911 or Campus Safety (574-535-7599).

Responding to Reports

Goshen College takes all reports of bias-related harassment and discrimination seriously, and investigates each complaint promptly and equitably. The Bias response coordinator oversees the policy and procedures that are in place to receive reports and meet with the parties involved to provide support and accommodations, address existing hostile environments, oversee resolution processes, and prevent future harassment or discrimination.

Any student or employee who believes he, she or they has/have been subjected to discrimination or harassment due to bias is encouraged to report the incident(s) to the College. Interim measures and accommodations can be provided to survivors prior to and during the investigation process.

Definition of Bias-Related Acts or Incidents

Bias-related incidents include but are not limited to inappropriate and biased comments, slurs, jokes, pictures, objects, threats, physical assaults, intimidation, unequal application of policies, and unequal or biased grading. This encompasses offensiveness and conduct that does not reach the level of (for example), racism, but  that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it rises to the level of harassment or discrimination. Some examples include the following:

  • Unwelcome comments and conduct with connotation(s) or subject matter that are demeaning to a racial/ethnic group, a religion or faith tradition,  people with disabilities, or people of a particular gender identity/expression or sex;
  • Offensive and vulgar jokes, name-calling, displaying photographs or objects; ridicule or mockery, physical gestures or enactments, insults or put-downs, or stereotyping based on a person’s race, skin color, ethnicity, or national origin, religion, disability, sex or gender identity/expression;
  • Suggestions or express/implied communications that aspects of the protected identities referenced above (i.e. race, sex, gender identity/expression, disability, religion, etc.) will affect decisions regarding such matters as employment, work assignment or status, academic standing, grades, receipt of financial aid, or letters of recommendation, or receipt of a Goshen College benefit or service;
  • The actual use of protected classes referenced above (i.e. race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, etc.  to affect decisions regarding such matters as employment, work assignment or status, academic standing, grades, receipt of financial aid, or letters of recommendation, or receipt of a Goshen College benefit or service);
  • Physical assaults or threats and intimidation;
  • Denial or obstruction of access to services;
  • Unequal application of college policies;
  • Any other bias-related act or incident that substantially or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance.

Procedures for Addressing Complaints of Bias-Related Discrimination and Harassment

Anyone can file a report of a bias-related harassment or discrimination. The College will respond to the report in a timely way with an invitation to meet. In the meeting, the Bias response coordinator will give information about referral to appropriate resources, providing appropriate accommodations, and, when a formal complaint is filed, overseeing an informal resolution process or a formal grievance process as the defined in the policy.

Reporting Bias-Related Incidents

Anyone can report alleged bias-related discrimination or harassment reporting the incident to any Goshen College employee, the Bias response coordinator Beth Martin Birky, or any member of the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT). GC employees can be your bridge to resources and reporting and help you find support along the way.

You may also complete the Bias-Related Incident Reporting Form, which is received by the Bias response coordinator.

Response to a report

However you choose to report, you have the right to share as much as you are comfortable sharing or what you believe would be helpful to achieve the outcome you desire. The Bias response coordinator will contact you right away and work with you to determine the best steps to take, depending on your situation and the nature of the policy violation.

Next steps may include:

  • Receiving support, such as counseling or medical assistance
  • Developing a safety plan for your security and the security of those around you
  • Filing a formal complaint to remedy the situation through an informal resolution or formal grievance process

The online reporting form allows you to submit an anonymous report, which gives the Bias response coordinator information about a general problem or potential threat. Please remember that, with an anonymous report, the Bias response coordinator is unable to contact you to offer support, accommodations, or options.

Even if you have already submitted an anonymous report, you always have the option to file another report and identify yourself to receive support. You can also directly contact any GC employee, Student Life staff, the Bias response coordinator for additional information.

Bias response coordinator

Goshen College ensures that our learning and working environment are safe from harassment, discrimination, and violence in many forms. Reports of bias-related discrimination and harassment are received by Beth Martin Birky,  who serves as the Bias response coordinator and the Title IX coordinator. Within two business days of receiving a report, the Bias response coordinator will email the reporting party with an invitation to meet to receive support and learn about options for addressing and remedying the situation and preventing it from happening again.

Beth Martin Birky

Bias Response & Title IX Coordinator

The Bias response coordinator will be assisted by Director of Health & Wellness and Title IX Deputy Coordinator, Liz Andes, who will help provide resources and accommodations to support student learning.

Liz Andes

Director of Health and Wellness
Title IX Deputy Coordinator

When reports of bias-related incidents involve Goshen College employees, the Bias response coordinator will collaborate with the Director of Human Resources, Marlene Penner, who will provide resources and assist the employee with work-related accommodations.

Marlene Penner

Director of Human Resources

You choose the steps to take

Remember, reporting discrimination or harassment does not require you to file a formal complaint and involve the other party. You can choose what kind of steps you want to take for support or to resolve the issue. At any point in the process, you may contact a variety of people for support, advice on options, or additional resources. You may also contact confidential resources for advice and support before you decide to report.

You may also contact off-campus resources, especially if you have experienced a crime or have medical concerns. Survivors may also contact the Goshen Police Department at any time after experiencing a crime. GC employees can assist you with contacting law enforcement or getting immediate medical help at the Goshen Hospital emergency room.  Please note that reporting a crime close to the time of the incident increases your chances of preserving valuable evidence for a criminal investigation and prosecution.

All Parties are treated fairly

The goal of the policy for addressing bias, discrimination and harassment is to ensure equitable access to education programs and activities. When Goshen College addresses reports of bias-related harassment or discrimination, all parties involved can be assured of a fair, timely, and private process to address difficult situations, remedy the situation as much as possible, and prevent the incident from happening again. Both Complainants (victims, survivors) and Respondents (alleged offenders) will be treated with dignity and professionalism.

Please ask for help

We want you to be safe and we want to help. A report is the beginning of a process to help you address a challenging situation, remedy the effects of policy violations on you and your educational experience, and prevent the situation from occurring in the future.

Fill out Online Report

If you have questions about completing this form, please reach out directly to the Bias response coordinator Beth Martin Birky (574-535-7465 or AD14H), the Director of Health and Wellness Liz Andes (574-535-7484 or Wyse 118), a Student Life staff member, or any GC employee.

Overview of Procedures

The following procedures shall apply according to the status of the person accused of a bias-related act or incident. More detail about procedures are provided when meeting with the Bias response coordinator:

  • Student: The Bias response coordinator and the Director of Health and Wellness will be informed when receiving information about a bias-related incident involving students. In cases where safety is involved, the Director of Campus Safety will be informed and may collaborate on developing a safety plan. In cases related to campus housing, the Director of Residence Life and Housing will be notified for any associated conduct issues.
  • Employee: The Director of Human Resources will also be informed if a bias-related incident involves a Goshen College employee. The Director of Human Resources will collaborate with the Bias response coordinator to provide resources, consider options, and, when requested, to coordinate an informal resolution or formal grievance process as outlined in the policy.
  • Campus visitor or outside contractor: When a bias-related incident involves an non-GC contractor, volunteer, or temporary worker, the Vice President for Finance will be informed and will collaborate with the Bias response coordinator to address the situation and prevent it from happening again.

Goshen College will promptly and equitably address any reports of bias-related incident by:

  1. Advising the person reporting the alleged inappropriate conduct (“the complainant”) about available College and community resources;
  2. Assisting the complainant in accessing college and community resources, including campus and local law enforcement authorities, when such assistance is requested;
  3. Making reasonable changes in living, working, or academic arrangements as appropriate;
  4. Informing the complainant of the process of filing a formal complaint, which leads to resolution options, such as informal resolution or a formal grievance procedure, as outlined in the Bias Matters Policy.
  5. When a formal complaint is filed, providing the alleged offender (“the respondent”) with a notice of allegations, along with information about support and resources, the policy and procedures, and possible outcomes.
  6. Treating all complaints as confidential, by not sharing information related to the report without the complainant’s permission, unless there is an immediate threat to the safety of individuals or the community.

Responsibilities of the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT)

The Bias Matters Response Team supports the Bias response coordinator in advising the parties, assisting with an impartial investigation, and completing a fair and timely resolution process when a formal complaint is filed. The BMRT will make a determination based on relevant evidence and notify both parties of the outcome and disciplinary actions. The Vice President for Student Affairs oversees the Bias Incident process and personnel.

Disciplinary Actions

Sanctions for bias-related incidents  may take different forms depending on the severity of the offense. In those situations where it is determined, following a thorough investigation, that a violation of this policy has occurred, appropriate action will be taken. Consequences may include the following:

  • verbal reprimands
  • written reprimands and warnings
  • monitoring or restriction of campus access, benefits, or services
  • mandatory education
  • suspension
  • separation from the college

In those instances where a violation is found, documentation of the violation and the disciplinary action will be placed in the respondent’s official Goshen College file.

Cases involving students heard and decisions made by the Bias Matter Response Team are shared with the Dean of Students.


At the conclusion of Bias Matters formal resolution process, any party (either the complainant or respondent) may appeal a final determination or a sanction or disciplinary action, according to Goshen College’s Appeal policy.  An appeal must be based on one of the following reasons: a procedural error, new evidence, disproportionate sanctions, or conflict of interest (see the Appeal policy for more detail). A request for appeal (“Request for Appeal”) must be submitted in writing to the conduct process coordinator (“coordinator”) within five (5) business days from the delivery of the notice of outcome.

The coordinator will then forward the request for appeal to the appellate panel chair (“chair”), which is the vice president for the area in which the complaint originated: Academic Affairs, Student Life, or Human Resources. The chair will convene the appellate panel (“panel”), which is made up of the three area vice presidents or their designees, to determine if the request meets the grounds for appeal and is either denied or approved.

If the grounds for appeal are not met, the panel will deny the appeal. The chair will notify the parties and their advisors in writing of the denial and the rationale. All appeal decisions are final.


Threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against a complainant or any other party involved in implementing the college bias-related incidents of discrimination and harassment policy are violations of the policy and may be grounds for disciplinary action.

False Reports and Evidence

A deliberately false, malicious, and/or reckless accusation of bias-related discrimination or harassment is a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Allegations that, even if erroneous, are made in good faith are not considered false reports. Individuals should not be discouraged from reporting sexual harassment or assault simply because there appears to be a lack of corroborating evidence.

Prevention and Education around Discrimination and Harassment

The policy on Bias-related incidents of discrimination and harassment are one facet of Goshen College’s campus-wide commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The policy and procedures ensure that Goshen College students and employees have equal access to all educational activities and programs and are able to learn and work in a safe environment.

Goshen College will take steps to prevent bias-related incidents of discrimination or harassment by:

  • Integrating into Goshen College’s curriculum, staff training, and community programming initiatives designed to promote equity and prevent bias-related acts and incidents.
  • Explore issues, events, and attitudes relating to equity and bias-related acts and incidents at Goshen College.
  • Goshen College Campus Ministries and Counseling are points of support. Communication with these staff will not lead to formal institutional response unless the student requests such action.

Other resources for support include: