Hate Crime or Hate Incident

A hate crime is a criminal act against a person or his/her property because of that person’s real or perceived race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Under California law, for a crime to be considered a hate crime, a number of specific criteria must all be met as defined in the California Code. Federal law differs in certain respects from state law. In California, for a crime to be considered a “hate crime” and for the penalty enhancement provisions of the law to take effect, a prosecutor must prove that the motivation of the perpetrator in committing the crime was bias against a person or persons in a protected category, and that this bias was a “substantial factor” (and not an incidental factor) in the crime. Hate incidents are considerably more common on college campuses than hate crimes. Unlike hate crimes, there is no formal legal definition for a hate incident. They are generally the same types of behaviors and crimes as described above except that one or more of the formal legal criteria described above are not met. Regardless, the victims tend to experience the same range of emotions and benefit from the same level of caring response.

When you are aware that a student has experienced a hate incident or hate crime:


  1. When possible, talk to the student in private.
  2. Be aware that the student may be experiencing a wide range of emotions including shame, anger, fear, and denial.
  3. Advise the student to contact the Hate Incident Response Coordinator who serves as the hate crimes response coordinator for the campus.
  4. Inform the student that the Hate Incident Response Coordinator will listen to the student and will explain the full range of options available.
  5. Advise the student that the Hate Incident Response Coordinator can refer the student to specific law enforcement officers known for their sensitivity and knowledge about these types of situations if the student wishes to report an incident that is also a crime.
  6. Advise the student that counseling is available through Counseling & Psychological Services.
  7. Advise the student that s/he may report the incident to the Office of Title IX/ Sexual Harassment Policy Compliance if the hate incident is related to sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
  8. Advise the student that s/he may report the incident to the Office of Equal Opportunity & Discrimination Prevention if the hate incident is related to race, religion, national origin, or another protected category.
  9. Advise the student that s/he may report the incident to the Campus Police.


  1. Try to explain or get caught up in the technical differences between a “hate crime” and “hate incident.” These differences are generally immaterial to the feelings being experienced by the student and his/her need for support and information. The Hate Incident Response can explain the technical difference between these categories, and how the categorization of the incident will inform the set of options available to the student.
  2. Minimize the situation or indiscriminately share information about the crime or incident with others without the permission of the student
  3. Express personal biases.