The university policy defines sexual misconduct offenses to
include, but not limited to:
Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit same)
Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same)
All forms of sexual
misconduct can be committed by men or women and against other men or women.
By definition, sexual harassment is
gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is,
- sufficiently severe,
persistent or pervasive that it,
interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit
from the university’s educational program and/or
It is important to note
that harassment can occur in a variety of contexts, including face-to-face
interactions, emails, and other forms of written communication, social media,
Most of us are familiar
with the general concept of sexual harassment, yet the term has a wide range of
meanings. Clearly, it is unacceptable to
utilize sexualized words or actions that create discomfort for others. Thus, inappropriate touching, comments, gestures,
or other behaviors that reasonably make another individual uncomfortable enough
to interfere with their ability to fully participate in their educational
program or unemployment would constitute sexual harassment. It could include attempts
to: coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; repeatedly subject a
person to inappropriate, unwelcome sexual attention; punish a refusal to comply
with a sexual based request; or condition a benefit on submitting to sexual
advances. The key notion is not what you intend – it’s about the
other person’s interpretation.
Here are a few concrete
examples that may help to provide additional understanding:
- A professor insists that a student have sex with him/her in
exchange for a good
grade. This is harassment regardless of whether the student gives in to the request.
- A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes around on
an email list s/he
created, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on
campus and in the residence hall in which they live.
Three Types of Sexual Harassment—Legal Constructs
- Explicit sexual pictures are displayed in an advisor’s
office, on the exterior of a residence hall door, or on a
computer monitor in a public space.
- Two supervisors frequently ‘rate’ several employees’ bodies
and sex appeal, commenting suggestively
about their clothing and appearance.
- A professor engages students in discussions in class about
their past sexual experiences, yet the conversation is not
in any way germane to the subject
matter of the class. She probes for explicit details, and demands
that students answer her, though they are clearly uncomfortable and hesitant.
- An ex-girlfriend widely spreads false stories about her sex
life with her former boyfriend to the clear
discomfort of the boyfriend, turning him into a social outcast on campus
- Male students take to calling a particular student “Monica” because
of her resemblance to Monica Lewinsky. Soon,
everyone adopts this nickname for
her, and she is the target of relentless remarks about cigars, the president,
“sexual relations” and Weight Watchers.
- A student grabbed another student by the hair, then grabbed
her breast and
put his mouth on it. He says it was just
being playful, but it’s not appropriate
defined by the courts, three different types of sexual harassment exist. All of them are equally egregious,
inappropriate, and unacceptable. The
policy seeks to deliver clear definitions of these three different legal
constructs to ensure that all members of our university community appreciate
the complexity and inclusiveness of the term.
A. Hostile Environment includes any
situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe,
pervasive, and objectively offensive that it alters the conditions of
employment or limits, interferes with or denies educational benefits or
opportunities, from both a subjective (the alleged victim’s) and an objective
(reasonable person’s) viewpoint.
B. Quid pro quo sexual harassment exists
when there are:
C. Retaliatory harassment is any adverse
employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person’s
participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination or sexual
misconduct. An example would be if a
professor fails a student unfairly through retaliation because he was upset by
the fact that the student brought forth a complaint of sexual harassment charge
1) unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.
pro quo means “this for that.”
Essentially, this type of sexual harassment occurs when an individual
reasonably believes that consent to or rejection of an unwelcome request for
sex would have consequences in their educational or employment status. A concrete example would be a supervisor who
suggests to an employee that she might not get promoted if she does not have
sex with the supervisor – or that the promotion possibility would be helped by
agreeing to engage in sex.
Non-Consensual Sexual Contact:
- any intentional sexual touching,
- by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman,
- that is without
consent and/or by force.
Sexual Contact includes:
- Intentional contact with the breasts, buttock,
groin, or genitals, or
- touching another with any of these body
- making another touch you or themselves with
or on any of these body parts, or
- any intentional bodily contact in a sexual
manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin,
genitals, mouth or other orifice.
Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse:
- with any object,
- by a
man or woman upon a man or a woman,
is without consent and/or by force.
- vaginal penetration by a penis,
object, tongue or finger, or
- anal penetration by a penis,
object, tongue, or finger, or
- oral copulation (mouth to
genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the
penetration or contact.
exploitation occurs when a student takes non-consensual or abusive sexual
advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or
advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not
otherwise constitute one of other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but
are not limited to:
- Invasion of sexual privacy;
- prostituting another student;
- non-consensual video or
audio-taping of sexual activity (including use of cell phone);
- positioning camera and taking
photos/videos in such a way as to capture another person’s body revealing their exposed genitals or other sexual
- going beyond the boundaries of
consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex);
- engaging in voyeurism;
- knowingly transmitting an STI
or HIV to another student;
- Exposing one’s genitals in
non-consensual circumstances; inducing another to expose their genitals;
- Sexually-based stalking and/or
bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation
Consent: Consent is
clear, knowing, and voluntary. Consent
is active, not passive. Silence, in and
of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.
Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or
actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness
to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity. Consent must be actively given for each
sexual act. Consent can never be given
by minors or by those who are mentally and/or physically incapacitated.