Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. The term includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and sexual intimidation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by men or women, and it can occur between people of the same sex or different sexes. Below are a few important definitions from the university's Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Consent is a freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity or behavior, expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions.
It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in the sexual activity to ensure they other party consents. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. For that reason, relying solely on nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstanding. Moreover, a dating relationship or a past sexual relationship between the persons involved should never provide a basis to assume consent.
Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity—at any time, a participant can withdraw consent for continuing the activity. If there is confusion as to whether anyone has consented or continues to consent to sexual activity, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion can be clearly resolved.
Consent is not possible when someone is:
- Asleep or unconscious
- Incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication
- Unable to communicate consent due to a mental or physical condition.
Sexual assault is a form of sexual misconduct and represents a continuum of conduct from forcible rape to nonphysical forms of pressure that compel individuals to engage in sexual activity against their will.
Examples of sexual assault include, but are not limited to, the following activities when performed without consent:
- Sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal)
- Oral sex
- Rape or attempted rape
- Penetration of an orifice (anal, vaginal, oral) with the penis, finger, or other object
- Unwanted touching of a sexual nature
- Use of coercion, manipulation, or force to make someone else engage in sexual touching, including touching the breast, chest, and buttocks
- Engaging in sexual activity with a person who is unable to provide consent due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other mental or physical condition (e.g., asleep or unconscious).
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that includes verbal, written, or physical behavior of a sexual nature directed at a person or a group because of sex or gender stereotypes, when that behavior is unwelcome and meets either of the following criteria:
(1) Submission or consent to the behavior is believed to carry consequences for the person's education, employment, on-campus living environment, or participation in a university activity. Examples of this type of sexual harassment include:
- Making a real or perceived threat that rejecting sexual behavior will carry a negative consequence
- Pressure to engage in sexual behavior for some educational or employment benefit
(2) The behavior has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person's work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a university activity. Examples of this type of sexual harassment can include:
- Persistent unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship
- Unwelcome commentary about an individual's body or sexual activities
- Unwanted sexual attention
- Repeated and unwelcome sexually-oriented teasing, joking, or flirting
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
Sexual exploitation involves taking non-consensual sexual advantage of another person. Examples can include, but are not limited to, the following behaviors:
- Electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds, or images without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved
- Voyeurism (spying on others who are in intimate or sexual situations)
- Distributing intimate or sexual information about another person without that person's consent
Sexual intimidation involves:
- Threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them
- Engaging in indecent exposure