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What is sexual assault? consent? harassment? stalking? And more definitions.

Updated  by rprescott
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Summary

What is sexual assault? consent? harassment? stalking? And more definitions.

Article

 For the purposes of the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Policy, the following definitions and terms apply:

  1. Sexual Violence

As defined by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, sexual violence "refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the [person's] age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the [person] from having the capacity to give consent)." All forms of sexual violence are prohibited by the Universities and Title IX.

a. Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of (1) the vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object, or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person's consent. Rape is also the performance of oral sex or anal sex on another person without that person's consent.

b. Sexual assault is any kind of sexual physical contact that involves any form of coercion, force or lack of consent. Sexual physical contact includes the intentional touching of another person on an area of the body generally recognized as a private part of the body, or touching any part of another person's body with a private part of one's own body or object, no matter how slight. Sexual intercourse means penetration, no matter how slight, of a bodily orifice (vagina, anus, or mouth) by an object or by a body part, and/or non-consensual oral sex or anal sex.

c. Sexual exploitation is taking sexual advantage of another person for one's own benefit or the benefit of anyone other than that person without that person's consent.

d. Incest is sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other and whose marriage would be prohibited by law. Attempts to commit incest are also prohibited.

e. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent, which is 16 in Massachusetts. Attempts to commit statutory rape are also prohibited.

f. Aiding in the Commission of Sexual Violence The aiding or assisting in the commission of an act(s) of sexual violence is prohibited.

Examples of aiding in the commission of violence include, but are not limited to:

  • videotaping a friend having sex with a person who has passed out drunk at a party;
  • helping a friend to drug the friend's date's drink; and
  • encouraging students to engage in sexual activity when one knows those students to be incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

g. Affirmative Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicate a willingness by all parties to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent must be informed, freely and actively given. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement. Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent. For example, a position of influence could include supervisory or disciplinary authority.

Silence, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in themselves, be taken to imply consent. While nonverbal consent is possible (through active participation), it is best to obtain verbal consent. Similarly, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly.

h. Incapacitation: An individual who is incapacitated by alcohol and/or drugs both voluntarily or involuntarily consumed may not give consent. Alcohol or drug related incapacitation is more severe than impairment, being under the influence, or intoxication. Evidence of incapacity may be detected from context clues, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol on the breath, shaky equilibrium, vomiting, unusual behavior or unconsciousness. While context clues are important in determining incapacitation, they alone do not necessarily indicate incapacitation.

Persons unable to consent due to incapacitation also include, but are not limited to: persons under age 16; persons who are intellectually incapable of understanding the implications and consequences of the act or actions in question; and persons who are physically helpless. A physically helpless person is one who is asleep, blacked out, involuntarily physically restrained, unconscious, or, for any other reason, unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in any act.

The use of alcohol or drugs to render another person mentally or physically incapacitated as a precursor to or part of a sexual assault is prohibited. The use of alcohol, medications or other drugs by the respondent or accused does not excuse a violation of this Policy.

i. Force is the use of physical strength or action (no matter how slight), violence, threats of violence or intimidation (implied threats of violence) as a means to engage in sexual activity. A person who is the object of actual or threatened force is not required to physically, verbally or otherwise resist the aggressor.

j. Coercion is unreasonable pressure or emotional manipulation to persuade another to engage in sexual activity. When someone makes it clear that s/he does not want to engage in sexual behavior, or s/he does not want to go beyond a certain point of sexual activity, continued pressure beyond that point can be considered coercive. Being coerced into sexual activity is not consent to that activity.

 

2. Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is prohibited when:

• submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education; and/or

• submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or

• such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially inte1fering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment.

Sexual harassment can occur between people of any gender. It can occur between equals (e.g., student to student, staff to staff, faculty to faculty) or between persons of differing power status (e.g., supervisor to subordinate, faculty to student, coach to athlete). It is possible for a person who appears to have the lesser power to commit sexual harassment (e.g., a student harassing a faculty member).

In order for conduct to constitute sexual harassment under this Policy, a reasonable person under similar circumstance would have to conclude that the behavior was harassing or discriminatory.

Reasonable directions or warnings by authorized University personnel as to the time, place and manner in which employees perform their assigned responsibilities, students carry out their educational assignments or program participants engage in sponsored activities do not constitute evidence of sexual harassment under this Policy.

Hostile Environment

A hostile environment exists when sexual harassment is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a person's ability to participate in or benefit from the University's programs or activities. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in the University's programs or activities (e.g., administrators, faculty members, students, and campus visitors).

To make the ultimate determination of whether a hostile environment exists for campus community member(s), the University considers a variety of factors related to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the sexual harassment, including: (1) the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; (2) the identity and relationships of persons involved; (3) the number of individuals involved; (4) the location of the conduct and the context in which it occurred; and, (5) the degree to which the conduct affected one or more person's education or employment.

A single or isolated incident may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to show evidence of a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.

3. Gender-Based Harassment

Unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on a person's actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is prohibited when:

• submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education; and/or

• submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or

• such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment based on gender.

While harassment based on non-sexual factors may be distinguished from sexual harassment, these types of behaviors may contribute to the creation of a hostile environment. Thus, in determining whether a sexually hostile environment exists, the University may consider acts of gender-based harassment. In order for conduct to constitute gender-based harassment under this Policy, a reasonable person under similar circumstance would have to conclude that the behavior was harassing or discriminatory.

Reasonable directions or warnings by authorized University personnel as to the time, place and manner in which employees perform their assigned responsibilities, students carry out their educational assignments or program participants engage in sponsored activities do not constitute evidence of gender-based harassment under this Policy.

The definition of hostile environment provided under the Sexual Harassment section above also applies in the context of gender-based harassment.

4. Domestic and Dating Violence

Domestic and dating violence are acts of abusive or coercive behavior (physical, sexual, financial, verbal and/or emotional) used by a perpetrator to gain or exercise control over another, including any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Domestic and dating violence can occur in relationships between persons of any gender.

Domestic violence is such behavior directed against a current or former spouse, family member (blood, step, adoptive or foster), person with whom a child is shared, or cohabitant (possibly a roommate).

Dating violence is such behavior directed against another person in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, and where the existence of such a relationship is determined based on a consideration of the length and type of relationship and frequency of interaction between the persons involved.

5. Stalking

Engaging in a course of harassing, threatening, or unwanted behavior that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or fear for their safety or the safety of others. Stalking may occur in a range of formats including, but not limited to, in-person conduct, writings, texting, voicemail, email, social media, following someone with a global position system (GPS), and video/audio recording.

6. Retaliation

The Universities prohibit retaliation against any person for making a complaint of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, for assisting in making a complaint, for resisting or openly opposing such conduct, or for otherwise using or participating in the complaint investigation process under the Policy. Persons who file, or participate in the investigation or resolution of, claims or complaints of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation with outside agencies, law enforcement or otherwise pursuant to any applicable state or federal law, are also protected from retaliation by this Policy.

Prohibited retaliation includes, but is not limited to: threats; intimidation; reprisals; continued harassment or misconduct; other forms of harassment; slander and libel; and adverse actions related to employment or education. Retaliation can be committed by individuals or groups, including friends, relatives or other associates of the person against whom a complaint is filed. Retaliation, even in the absence of proven sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking in an underlying complaint, constitutes a violation of this Policy that is just as serious as the main offense itself

Please find examples and more information in the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan.