» CERT Definitions

To support its work and help create a common language for the Chapman community in regards to issues of social justice and incidents potentially related to bias, the Cross-Cultural Education & Resource Team has developed a list of related terms that may help best facilitate dialogue around campus and clarify the team's role. Please note that these definitions are ever-changing, and this list is not in any way meant to be exhaustive.

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Bias is an inclination or strong opinion against or in favor of a particular group of people or side of an issue that often does not have its foundation in fair judgment. Having a bias can interfere with one’s ability to think or act impartially.

Bias Incidents

Bias incidents are any incidents caused by an individual or group’s actions that were motivated fully or partially by that individual or group’s bias against another person or group. These actions and incidents are often committed against a person or group due to one or more of their identities, such as their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion, or disability. Bias incidents are harmful to our community, but they may not rise to the level of being classified as a crime.


Discrimination is conduct that subjects an individual to disparate treatment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other classification protected by law. This would include within its scope alleged conduct that deprives an individual of academic, employment, or other opportunities offered by the University on the basis of such protected characteristics. Read more in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy here.


Diversity is widely defined simply as the presence of difference. Diversity is created by bringing together individuals and groups from a wide range of demographic and philosophical differences as well as various backgrounds and identities. Diversity adds immense value to any community, including the Chapman community. Learn more about the Cross-Cultural Center on campus or other diversity efforts.


Harassment: the term "harassment" refers to conduct that meets all of the three criteria defined below:

  • Unwelcome - under the totality of the circumstances it is neither solicited nor incited and is regarded by the recipient as undesirable or offensive
  • Directed or related to an individual's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status or any other classification protected by law
  • When either of the following conditions exist:
    • It is implicitly or explicitly suggested that submission to or rejection of the conduct will be a factor in academic or employment decisions, evaluations, or permission to participate in a University activity; or
    • The conduct would be offensive to a reasonable person under the circumstances in question and, if not corrected, could interfere with an individual's academic or work performance or create or substantially contribute to an intimidating or hostile work, academic, or student living environment. In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes discrimination or harassment under this policy, consideration of the incident will include but not limited to the totality of the circumstances, the context in which the alleged incident(s) occurred, the relationship of the parties, whether the alleged offending party was asked to cease the offending conduct and principles of academic freedom.
If you feel you have been harassed by another individual or individuals within the Chapman community, please report the behavior immediately to a Chapman University staff member or the Dean of Students Office. Issues related to misconduct or violations of the Student Conduct Code will be adjudicated through the official Student Conduct Process. Read more in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy here. You can also learn more about different reporting options gender-based harassment and other concerns.

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are defined by the State of California as any criminal acts or attempted criminal acts that cause physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage where there is a reasonable cause to believe that the crime was motivated in whole or in part by the victim’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or physical or mental disability. Some examples of hate crimes include, but are not limited to, graffiti, damage to a car or personal property, a threat of violence, stalking, theft, assault, harassment, or damage to a community space. Read more in Chapman University’s Hate Incident & Crime Protocol here.

Hate Incidents

Hate incidents stem from abusive behavior according to the Chapman University Student Conduct Code and the Hate Incident & Crime Protocol. A hate incident is an occurrence that involves a verbal, written, or physical action that is intended to create emotional suffering, physical harm, or property damage to a person(s) because of their perceived or actual race, ethnic background, religious belief, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, biological sex, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or any other state or federally protected status. Some example violations include, but are not limited to, the use of slurs, name‐calling, epithets, symbols, posting, demeaning jokes, gestures, defacing or removing posted materials, or distributing or posting hate literature through leaflets, flyers, caricatures, editorials or letters to the editor, or internet communication such as email, instant messaging, and social media. Read more in Chapman University’s Hate Incident & Crime Protocol here.


Identity is a person’s sense of self, which can be defined in many ways. Many individuals’ social identities are shaped by the cultural and social groups that they belong to based on their race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ability, socioeconomic class, or religious or spiritual identity.


Oppression is “the systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression fuses institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry, and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures that saturate most aspects of life in our society.

  • Oppression denotes structural and material constraints that significantly shape a person’s life chances and sense of possibility.

  • Oppression also signifies a hierarchical relationship in which dominant or privileged groups benefit, often in unconscious ways, from the disempowerment of subordinated or targeted groups.

  • Oppression resides not only in external social institutions and norms but also within the human psyche as well.

Eradicating oppression ultimately requires struggle against all its forms, and that building coalitions among diverse people offers the most promising strategies for challenging oppression systematically.”

Source: Adams, Bell, and Griffin, editors. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge.


Power is the ability an individual or group has to influence others, achieve, or otherwise obtain what they want.


Prejudice is "a pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics."

Source: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder’s Tool Kit. Claremont, CA: Claremont Graduate University.


Privilege is a term for the cultural, legal, social, and institutional advantages that a dominant group in society has. These advantages are often automatic, unearned, not asked for, and invisible. Privilege arises due to the oppression and suppression of minority groups. The individuals and groups who have privilege are the majority group and are widely considered to be the normative group. They often do not realize the extent of their privilege because they do not experience oppression. The individuals and groups without privilege may sometimes feel invisible or somehow less than those with privilege.

Social Justice

Social Justice is often viewed as both a process and a goal, with the goal being "full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs" based on realizing a vision of an equitable society in which "all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure."

Source: Adams, Bell, and Griffin, editors. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. New York: Routledge.


Stereotypes are assumptions and generalizations about a target group that are widespread and socially sanctioned. Stereotypes, which can include attitudes, beliefs, feelings and expressed opinions about other groups, may seem on the surface to be either positive or negative, but the presence or use of any stereotypes has a negative effect on the target group and inter-group relationships because stereotypes perpetuate misinformation and institutionalized oppression.

Learn more about Cross-Cultural programs

Find out more about the Cross-Cultural Center and other programming through the Student Affairs Division other than CERT, Please feel free to check out the following pages:

Cross-Cultural Center
Community and Civic Engagement

Report an Incident

Fill out the form linked below to report an incident of possible bias, hate, or discrimination that affects the Chapman community.

CERT Incident Notification Form »