Terms and Definitions

At Ball State, we value the intrinsic worth of all members of the community, and respect the diversity our students bring to our campus community. We are committed to creating an inclusive campus community and to act in a socially responsible way. The Bias Response team is here to help you if you feel you have been adversely impacted by a bias incident. To understand the concept of bias, you may find these terms and definitions helpful. 


Disability: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the civil rights guarantee for people with disabilities in the United States. A “person with a disability” is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. In addition to people with visible disabilities—such as those who are blind, deaf, or use a wheelchair—the definition includes people with a range of invisible disabilities. These include psychological problems, learning disabilities, or some chronic health impairment such as epilepsy, cancer, cardiac problems, and HIV/AIDS. 


Equitable Procedures: All students at the university have a right to fair and equitable procedures for determining the validity of allegations that are in violation of university regulations. 


Gender: Refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a

person’s biological sex. Behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as

gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations

constitute gender non-conformity.


Gender Identity: refers to “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or transgender” (American Psychological Association, 2006). When one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent, the individual may identify as transsexual or as another transgender category (cf. Gainor, 2000).


Harassment: Actions that can be physical, verbal or written, that create a hostile or intimidating environment and are directed at a specific individual or group of people are considered harassment. (See the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Appendix I and the Anti-harassment Policy, Appendix C.) 


National Origin: A person who has an origin from a specific place is believed to have a specific ethnic background because nationality, ethnicity, or accent. 


Prejudice: A set of negative personal beliefs about a social group that leads individuals to prejudge people from that group or that group in general, regardless of individual differences among members of that group. Extreme prejudice can result in groups being denied benefits and rights unjustly or, conversely, shown unwarranted favor. 


Race: A group of people thought to share certain distinctive physical characteristics, such as facial structure or skin color. Racial characteristics are thought to be biologically inherited (unlike ethnic characteristics, which are cultural).


Religion: This term includes all aspects of observing and practicing a personal set or institutionalized system of attitudes or beliefs. 


Sexual Orientation: Refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted. Categories of sexual orientation typically have included attraction to members of one’s own sex (gay men or lesbians), attraction to members of the other sex (heterosexuals), and attraction to members of both sexes (bisexuals). While these categories continue to be widely used, research has suggested that sexual orientation does not always appear in such definable categories and instead occurs on a continuum (e.g., Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953; Klein, 1993; Klein, Sepekoff, & Wolff, 1985; Shiveley & DeCecco, 1977) In addition, some research indicates that sexual orientation is fluid for some people; this may be especially true for women (e.g., Diamond, 2007; Golden, 1987; Peplau & Garnets, 2000).


Student: Any person admitted to the university, registered or enrolled in classes either full time or part time, or otherwise associated with the university. 


University Activity: This term includes any teaching, research, service, administrative function, proceeding, ceremony, or activity conducted or authorized by students, faculty, staff, or administrators that is held by the authority of the university.