Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature, when one or more of the following conditions are present:
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is an explicit or implicit condition of an individual’s employment, education, evaluation of academic work, or any aspect of a College program or activity;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, i.e. it is sufficiently serious, pervasive, or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both an objective and subjective standard.
Sexual harassment also includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex/gender or sex/gender-stereotyping, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
A single, isolated incident of sexual harassment alone 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 create a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical. Sexual harassment can take many forms. Sexual harassment:
- may be verbal or non-verbal
- may be blatant and intentional and involve an overt action, a threat of reprisal, or may be subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.
- does NOT have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents.
- may be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, position, or authority. While there is often a power differential between two persons, perhaps due to differences in age, social, educational, or employment relationships, harassment can occur in any context.
- may be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the complainant has an intimate or sexual relationship.
- may be committed by or against an individual or may be a result of the actions of an organization or group.
- may occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
- may take various forms, including, name-calling, graphic or written statements (including the use of cell phones or the Internet), or other conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating may be a one-time event or part of a pattern of behavior.
- may be committed in the presence of others or when the parties are alone.
- may affect the complainant and/or third parties who witness or observe harassment type and severity.
Key determining factors are that the behavior is unwelcome, is gender-based, and is reasonably perceived as offensive and objectionable under both a subjective and objective assessment of the conduct.
A “hostile environment” exists when harassment is sufficiently serious to deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s programs or activities. In determining whether harassment has created a hostile environment, the College considers the conduct in question from both a subjective and objective perspective. It is necessary, but not enough, that the conduct was unwelcome to the student who was harassed. The College will also need to find that a reasonable person in the student’s position would have perceived the conduct as undesirable or offensive in order for that conduct to create or contribute to a hostile environment.
Whether a hostile environment exists depends upon a variety of factors, including:
- the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct;
- the identity and relationships of persons involved;
- the number of individuals involved;
- the location of the conduct and the context in which it occurred; and,
- the degree to which the conduct affected one or more student’s education.
The more severe the harassment, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to find a hostile environment. For example, a single instance of sexual assault may be sufficient to create a hostile environment. Likewise, a series of incidents may be sufficient even if the sex-based harassment is not particularly severe.
Non-consensual sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, which is without consent and/or by force.
Sexual contact includes intentional contact with the intimate parts of another, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth, or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner. Sexual contact also includes attempted sexual intercourse.
Non-consensual sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part (e.g., penis, tongue, finger, hand, etc.) or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.
Sexual exploitation occurs when a person abuses or exploits another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose without that person’s consent. The act or acts of sexual exploitation are prohibited even though the behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses.
Examples of sexual exploitation include:
- observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s consent;
- recording, and/or distributing (including streaming) of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without that person’s consent;
- prostituting another individual;
- exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
- knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without that individual’s knowledge; and
- inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances that demonstrate either of the following:
- place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury; or
- reasonably cause substantial emotional distress to the person.
Stalking includes the concept of cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the Internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used to pursue, harass, or to make unwelcome contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion.
Examples of stalking include:
- unwelcome and repeated visual or physical proximity to a person;
- repeated oral or written threats;
- extortion of money or valuables;
- unwelcome/unsolicited written communication, including letters, cards, emails, instant messages, and messages/posts on social media;
- unwelcome/unsolicited communications about a person, their family, friends, or co-workers; or
- sending/posting unwelcome/unsolicited messages with an assumed identity; or
- implicitly threatening physical contact;
- or any combination of these behaviors directed toward an individual person.
Intimate-partner violence, also referred to as dating violence, domestic violence, and relationship violence, includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, domestic, or other intimate relationship with that person. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate-partner violence can encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, and economic abuse. Intimate-partner violence may take the form of threats, assault, property damage, or violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate-partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations and does not discriminate by racial, social, or economic background
Intimidation is defined as implied threats or acts that cause fear of bodily injury to a person or their family.
Retaliation is defined as any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity (subject to limitations imposed by the First Amendment and/or Academic Freedom). Retaliation against an individual for an allegation, for supporting a Complainant or for assisting in providing information relevant to an allegation is a serious violation of College policy.