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Overview

Physical Sexual Misconduct: The expectations of the University regarding sexual misconduct can best be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with another, there must be a clear, knowing and voluntary mutual consent to and during the sexual activity. Consent means voluntary permission to engage in given conduct. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want to do or don’t want to do sexually and may be misinterpreted. Consent to one form of sexual activity cannot automatically be taken as consent to other forms. Silence without actions that affirmatively demonstrate permission cannot be assumed to show consent.

Additionally, there is a difference between solicitation (asking), seduction (enticing), and coercion (intimidation, threats, compulsion). Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone to engage in sexual activity. Pressuring one to engage in sexual activity may be considered as coercion when found to be unreasonable, depending on the circumstances and the parties involved.

Because alcohol or drugs can affect one’s capacity to consent and places that issue in question, sober sexual activity is less likely to raise a question about capacity or effective consent. When alcohol or drugs are involved, even when voluntarily ingested, a person will be considered incapable to giving valid consent if they cannot fully understand the nature and extent and understand the details of the sexual interaction (who, what, when, where, how, why) because they lack capacity to understand the nature and extent of the situation. In other words, individuals who consent to sexual activity must be able to understand what they are doing. Anything less than a clear, unambiguous, knowing and voluntary consent to sexual activity should be considered a “No!”

Consensual Relationships:  The University community is comprised of more than just students. Those comprising the community include students, faculty, staff and administrators to name a few. Personal or romantic relationships between persons of unequal position, rank or power are inherently risky and are discouraged. A particular problem exists in these relationships because they may be less consensual than perceived by the person whose position confers power over another. While personal relationships are not deemed unacceptable per se, it is not uncommon for such relationships to be viewed differently by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Further, situations may change so that what conduct was once consensual becomes unwelcome. Even when parties consent to a romantic or sexual involvement, such consent does not automatically remove the possibility of a charge of applicable provisions of faculty and staff handbooks.

The University does not wish to interfere with private choices regarding personal relationships so long as these relationships do not interfere with the goals and policies of the University. For the protection of all members of this community, relationships in which power differentials are inherent (staff-student, faculty-student, administrator-student, and even perhaps student-student where one has a superior position of power) are strongly discouraged.

Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party has a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are deemed, however, to be particularly damaging to the University mission and are considered unethical. Therefore, those persons with direct supervisory or evaluative responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must disclose those in a timely manner to their supervisor, which will likely result in removal of the person from supervisory or evaluative responsibilities, or may shift the student out of being supervised or evaluated by someone with whom they have established a consensual romantic or sexual relationship. This may also include RA’s, GA’s, lab assistants, etc., and students over whom they have supervisory or evaluative relationships. While there is no absolute prohibition against the relationships discussed, failure to self-report and disclose such a relationship to one’s supervisor may result in disciplinary action for employee misconduct.

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