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Definitions Related to Title IX & Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence. As defined by the U.S. Department of Educations’ 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 MCLA and Title IX.

Rape. 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.

Affirmative Consent. 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 Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly.

Sexual Assault. 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.

Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature 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 purposed or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating a sexual intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational or living environment.

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 of 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.

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.

Stalking. Stalking is 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.

Retaliation. MCLA prohibits 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.

 

These definitions apply to same-sex relationships and domestic partners as well.