Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy Definitions

Advisor - an individual who provides support, guidance, and/or advice to the complainant or respondent.

Bullying or cyber-bullying - repeated and/or severe aggressive behaviors likely to intimidate or intentionally harm or control another person physically or mentally. When these acts occur in the context of intimate partner abuse or when the behavior is perpetrated on the basis of sex or gender, the conduct is resolved under this policy.

Complainant - any member of the University community who submits a complaint alleging that a student violated the Student Code of Conduct. The complainant may be the individual who reportedly experienced sexual misconduct (including sexual assault), intimate partner abuse, or stalking, or the University.  Complainants are also known as the reporting party.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students - the University official in the Office of Student Conduct who is assigned by the Title IX Coordinator with reviewing and/or investigating reports of sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, or stalking by students under this policy.

Effective Consent - words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually understandable sexual activity or contact. In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age (16 or older in D.C). Effective consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the accused student knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. Effective consent is not the absence of resistance, and silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as effective consent. Consent to one form of sexual contact or activity does not imply consent to another form of sexual activity. Effective consent also has time boundaries; consent given at one time does not imply future consent or consent at any other time. 

Force - any physical force, violence, threats, intimidation or coercion. 

Gender-Based Misconduct - an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of behaviors including sexual misconduct (including sexual assault), sexual harassment, intimate partner abuse (including domestic violence, and dating violence), and stalking.

Incapacitation - the physical and/or mental inability to make informed and rational judgments. Signs or context clues of being incapacitated may include, but are not limited to, stumbling or maintaining balance, vomiting or the presence of vomit, incoherent speech or inability to follow a conversation or thought, outrageous or unusual behavior, and unconsciousness. With regard to alcohol, incapacitation is a higher level of alcohol ingestion than being impaired ("under the influence"), intoxicated, inebriated, or drunk. Consumption of alcohol or drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation; incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. The question is whether the accused knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the position of the accused student should have known, that the complainant was incapacitated. Because incapacitation may be difficult to discern, students are strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution; i.e., when in doubt, assume that another person is incapacitated and therefore unable to give effective consent. Being intoxicated or drunk is never a defense to a complaint of sexual misconduct under this policy. 

Intimate Partner Abuse - this can also be referred to as relationship violence, which includes domestic violence, or dating violence. Intimate partner abuse may include a pattern of coercive behaviors used to establish power and control over another person within the context of an intimate relationship (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, romantic partner, romantic roommate, friends with benefits, hook up, etc.). Behaviors may include: physical and/or verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, bullying, cyber-bullying, or coercion and generally escalates over time. It may include the use of alcohol and/or drugs to commit these acts. It can be committed by men or by women towards others of the same or different gender and between a current and former intimate partner who have dated, lived together, or been married.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact - sexual contact that occurs without effective consent. An example of a policy violation involving non-consensual sexual contact would be the touching of an unwilling or non-consensual person's private parts (such as penis, vagina, groin, breast, buttocks, mouth, and/or clothing covering them) touching an unwilling person with one's own intimate parts; or forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse - sexual intercourse that occurs without effective consent. An example of a policy violation involving non-consensual sexual intercourse would be the unwilling or non-consensual penetration (oral, anal or vaginal) with an object or body part. This includes, but is not limited to, penetration of a bodily opening without effective consent through the use of coercion or by use of force, violence, threat, or intimidation against the will of the other person.

No-Contact Order - a directive that mandates a student not to contact another person or persons in any way, including in person, via e-mail, social media, text messaging, written communication, or any other method of electronic or direct communication. The no-contact order also includes communications via third parties acting on the person's behalf.  

OSC Title IX Team - the team consisting of the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students and Title IX Investigator from the Office of Student Conduct (OSC).

Preponderance of the Evidence - characterizes the burden of proof standard used in adjudicating all University Student Code of Conduct and Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy cases. The preponderance of evidence means a greater weight of evidence/information, or "more likely than not".

Respondent - any student accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct. Respondents are also known as the responding party.

Retaliatory Discrimination or Harassment - any adverse employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person's participation in a complaint, investigation, or resolution involving allegations of sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, or stalking. It can take many forms, including continued abuse, threats, intimidation, violations of no-contact orders, and prohibited third party contact. Any individual or group of individuals, including a complainant or respondent, can engage in retaliation, and will be held accountable under this policy as a separate violation.

Sexual Assault - an offense that meets the definition of Rape, Fondling, Incest, or Statutory Rape as defined below (see FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program at

Rape: the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim;

Fondling: the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity;

Incest: sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law;

Statutory Rape: sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

For the purposes of this policy sexual assault includes non-consensual sexual intercourse or non-consensual sexual contact.

Sexual Contact - the deliberate touching of a person's private parts (including penis, vagina, vulva, buttocks, anus, groin and/or breasts, or clothing covering any of those areas) or using force to cause a person to touch his or her own or another person's private parts. 

Sexual Exploitation - taking sexual advantage of another person without effective consent, and includes, without limitation, causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person in order to gain a sexual advantage over the other person; causing the prostitution of another person; recording, photographing, or transmitting identifiable images of private sexual activity and/or the intimate parts (including penis, vagina, vulva, buttocks, anus, groin, and/or breasts) of another person; allowing third parties to observe private sexual acts; going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting others watch you have consensual sex or consensual sexual contact with another person); engaging in voyeurism; and/or knowingly or recklessly exposing another person to a significant risk of sexually transmitted infection, including HIV; or exposing one's genitals in non-consensual circumstances  or inducing another to expose their genitals.

Sexual Harassment - the unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct, including sexual violence that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone of educational access, benefits, or opportunities. Three types of sexual harassment include 1) hostile environment, 2) quid pro quo sexual harassment, and 3) retaliatory harassment.

Hostile Environment includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and patently/objectively offensive that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the complainant's) and an objective (reasonable person's) viewpoint. The determination of whether an environment is "hostile" must be based on all these circumstances.  These circumstances could include:

    1. the frequency of the conduct;
    2. the nature and severity of the conduct;
    3. whether the conduct was physically threatening;
    4. whether the conduct was humiliating;
    5. the effect of the conduct on the complainant's mental or emotional state;
    6. whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
    7. whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
    8. whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the complainant's educational or work performance;
    9. whether the statement is a mere utterance of an epithet which engenders offense in an employee or student, or offends by mere discourtesy or rudeness; or
    10. whether the speech or conduct deserves the protections of academic freedom.

Quid pro quo Sexual Harassment exists when there are:

    1. unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.

Retaliatory Harassment - any adverse employment or educational action taken against any person(s) for reporting, filing, testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in any investigation or proceeding involving allegations of sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, or stalking. 

Sexual Intercourse - penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or any other object. 

Sexual Misconduct - a broad and umbrella term encompassing sexual assault or any non-consensual act of a sexual nature which may or may not involve physical contact. Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual misconduct can be committed by men or by women and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.  

Sexual Misconduct Violations - violations that vary in severity and consists of a range of behavior or attempted behavior that includes, but is not limited to:

  1. non-consensual sexual contact,
  2. non-consensual sexual intercourse,
  3. sexual exploitation, and
  4. sexual harassment. 

Sexual Violence - the term used to describe physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g. due to the student's age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent).  A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.  All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Stalking - a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or threatens his/her physical safety and/or mental health. "Course of conduct" is defined as "a pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, indicating a continuity of conduct".  Such behaviors and activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. non-consensual communication, including face-to-face communication, telephone/VP calls, voice/text messages, e-mails, written letters, gifts, or any other communications that are undesired or place another person in fear;
  2. use of on-line, electronic, or digital technologies including:
    • posting of pictures or information in chat rooms or on websites;
    • sending unwelcome/unsolicited or an excessive number of email or talk requests;
    • posting private or public messages on internet sites, social network sites, and/or school bulletin boards;
    • installing spyware on a victim's computer; and/or
    • using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor a victim;
  3. pursuing, following, waiting, or showing up uninvited at or near a residence, workplace, classroom, or other places frequented by the victim;
  4. surveillance or other types of observation, including staring or "peeping";
  5. trespassing;
  6. vandalism;
  7. non-consensual touching;
  8. direct verbal or physical threats;
  9. gathering information about an individual from family, friends, and/or co-workers;
  10. threats to harm self or others; and/or
  11. defamation - lying to others about the victim.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) - a Federal law that states "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Title IX Coordinator - the University official charged with ensuring the University's overall compliance with Title IX and related University Policy.

Title IX Investigator (OSC) - an appropriately trained University employee who, along with the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, reviews and/or investigates reports of sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, or stalking as assigned by the Title IX Coordinator under this policy.

Additional definitions from 42 USC § 13925 (Violence Against Women Act of 1994) and D.C. Codes and Statutes on Sexual Offense, Stalking, and Domestic Violence Statutes can be found here.

UPDATED: JULY 27, 2015