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Updated Acts of Intolerance protocol

Sep 28 2020

Content Warning: racism, bigotry, sexism

Dear undergraduate, graduate and professional students, 

We are writing today with important updates to Stanford's Acts of Intolerance protocol, a tool we believe will be important in addressing incidents of bias, especially in this divisive time. We would like to thank two working groups, one meeting in winter 2020 and a second in summer 2020. The former helped identify concerns with the protocol, and the latter developed the implementation process we are sharing today.

Specifically, based on student feedback, the fall group updated both the process and resources such as the website and the reporting form. Below, we offer more details.

What is an AOI?

An Act of Intolerance (AOI) is conduct or an incident that adversely and unfairly targets an individual or group on the basis of one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics: race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, marital status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

Examples of Acts of Intolerance could include posting a racially insensitive term on social media, making sexist jokes at a party, or defacing fliers about LGBTQI+ rights. An AOI can happen on-campus, off-campus, or online and can be perpetrated by a known or unknown person.

The goal of the AOI process is two-fold: to serve as a mechanism for data collection and to help students who have been affected by these incidents to find restoration. At the forefront of our vision is the principle that the process will create an environment for students who are reporting parties to feel heard and supported.

Acts of Intolerance can rise to the level of a hate crime or unlawful discrimination or harassment, depending on the nature and severity of the incident and whether certain requirements are met. An example of an AOI rising to the level of a hate crime is defacing the side of a building by painting a swastika. For more information about Acts of Intolerance, please see the FAQs on the AOI website.

Although the AOI protocol is not a judicial or investigative process, we do hope to provide a path to resolution for the affected individuals or community who need to heal. Staff may refer a matter involving conduct that rises to the level of a hate crime or unlawful discrmination or harassment to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety, Diversity and Access Office or Title IX Office.

What we learned from student feedback

Here is what we learned from students on the working group, student staff in the Office of Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning, and the ASSU Co-Directors of Racial Justice and their committee members:

  • Many students would like there to be a punitive process for an AOI. While the university does not condone Acts of Intolerance, most speech is protected unless it rises to the level of a hate crime or unlawful harassment or discrimimation. Stanford has other established resources ready to assist when an AOI rises to the level of a hate crime, discrimination or harassment.

  • Students wanted to have a clear flowchart and timeline of the process from reporting to restoration.

  • Students thought it would be helpful to have more information about the process in order to make a better informed decision about reporting Acts of Intolerance.


Here are the changes we have made

We have incorporated as much of those requests to the extent possible for the upcoming year:

  • The website has been updated to be clearer and allow for information to be discernable in digestible sections.

  • The reporting form itself was updated to help us collect data so that we can spot trends and to be 100 percent accessible to those with disabilities.

  • Every student (no matter their status, their geographical location, or the location of the incident) will be able to access this process. Those details are outlined here.


Here are our plans for the future

  • We are developing educational resources (such as videos, training, and content sharing) so that organizations, departments and other groups can train students about the process.

  • We are open to feedback about the process. The website includes a form for feedback and we will conduct focus groups midway through fall quarter.

  • Both the summer and winter working groups will work together to build upon this momentum to address bias, harassment, and discrimination at Stanford.


In closing, we encourage you to check out the website to learn more about the Acts of Intolerance process or reporting an AOI.

Thank you,

Dr. Emelyn dela Peña
Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning

Dr. Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students