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About Sexual Misconduct

  • The University prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct including sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, nonconsensual sexual intercourse and sexual exploitation. 

    The University also prohibits other forms of misconduct offenses, including threatening or physical harm to others, extreme verbal abuse, discrimination, intimidation, hazing, bullying, violence between those in an intimate relationship to each other, stalking, and retaliation.

    Definitions regarding forms of prohibited conduct, consent and related concepts, and other terms are listed below:  

    Definition of Terms

  • Allegation

    An accusation against someone that has yet to be proven.

    Bullying

    Repeated and/or severe aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class.

    Child

    A child is defined by PA Code as any person under the age of 18 years. The victim of child abuse is a person under the age of 18 who has suffered one or more of the categories of child abuse as defined in Iowa law (physical abuse, mental injury, sexual abuse, denial of critical care, child prostitution, presence of illegal drugs, manufacturing or possession of a dangerous substance). In Pennsylvania a minor (meaning a person under the age of 13 years) cannot consent to sexual activity. Additionally, Pennsylvania law prohibits sexual activity between someone under the age of 16 and someone four or more years older. University employees who, in the scope of their employment responsibilities, examine, attend, counsel, or treat a child are obligated to report suspected physical or sexual abuse of a child. This includes most employees, including, but not limited to, faculty, coaches, student employees, administrators and staff. Such University employees, regardless of statutorily-protected or -designated confidentiality, must report to both the PA Childline & Abuse Registry (717) 783-8744 and University Police (814) 472-3360 within 24 hours of receiving a report of alleged child abuse. Both of these numbers are staffed 24 hours a day/7 days a week. 911 should be called in a medical emergency. 

    Coercion

    An unreasonable amount of pressure to participate in or acquiesce to an act.

    Conflict Resolution

    Intervention aimed at alleviating or eliminating discord through conciliation.

    Consensual Relationship

    A relationship in which two people are engaged by mutual consent in an emotionally (romantic) and physically (sexually) intimate relationship.

    Consent

    Informed, freely given and mutually understood. Consent requires an affirmative act or statement by each participant. If coercion, intimidation, threats and or physical force are used, there is no consent. If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the person cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, there is not consent; this includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption or being asleep or unconscious. Whether one has taken advantage of a position of influence over another may be a factor in determining consent. (Refer to policy for complete definition)

    Dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence

    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. Relationship violence, can encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, and economic abuse. Relationship violence, may take the form of threats, assault, property damage, violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner and/or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Relationship violence, affects individuals of all genders, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientation, and racial, ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds.

    Discrimination

    Defined as actions that deprive other members of the community of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities on the basis of their actual or perceived membership in a protected class.

    Discriminatory harrassment

    Verbal or physical conduct that creates a hostile environment for an individual because of his/her race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran status, religion, disability, creed or any other protected class.

    Forced sexual intercourse

    Penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.

    Harm to others

    Physical, verbal, or psychological abuse, harassment, intimidation or other harmful conduct that threatens, endangers, or has the potential to endanger the health, well-being or safety of another individual.

    Hate crime

    A criminal act that is directed toward a person, group, or property because of such person’s (or group’s) identifying or perceived race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran status, religion, disability, creed or any other protected class.

    Hazing

    Acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the university community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class; Hazing is also illegal under Pennsylvania state law and prohibited by University policy.

    Hostile environment

    A living, learning, or working environment that may be created by oral, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to interfere with, limit or deny the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities or employment access, benefits or opportunities.

    Incapacitation

    The inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. Where alcohol and/or other drugs (including prescription drugs) are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication that renders someone unable to make rational, reasonable judgments.

    Incident report

    Information provided to the University that an alleged incident of sexual harassment or misconduct has occurred, regardless of whether individuals have been identified. 

    Incident review

    A prompt, thorough and impartial investigation, including all evidence and conduct proceedings to determine whether an accused individual is responsible or not responsible for a violation in question. 

    Incident Review Officer

    An individual appointed by the Title IX coordinator to conduct an incident review.

    Informal resolution

    An option when the parties desire to resolve the situation cooperatively or when a formal investigation is not desired. When instances of alleged sexual violence occur, some forms of informal resolution (e.g., mediation and/or restorative justice options) are expressly prohibited under Title IX as the primary resolution mechanism.

    Interim actions/remedies

    Temporary actions taken by the University to foster a more stable and safe environment during a period of ongoing exploring of options, investigation and or adjudication. These actions will be implemented at the discretion of the University and may be applied to either the reporting party or responding party.

    Intimidation

    Implied threats and/or intentional behavior that "would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" fear of injury or harm. It is not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened.

    Investigation

    The act of investigating; the process of inquiring into or following up through inquiry and examination to determine if university policy has been violated.

    Non-Consensual sexual contact

    Having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent. Sexual contact includes kissing, touching the intimate parts of another, causing the other to touch one's intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.

    Non-Consensual sexual contact

    Actual or attempted sexual penetration or intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact.

    No-contact order

    A formal directive issued by the University requiring parties, often at the request of students, in any interpersonal conflict to have no direct or indirect interaction

    Protected class

    A characteristic of a person (gender, age, race, etc.) which cannot be targeted for discrimination.

    Reporting party

    The individual(s) who has experienced a possible instance of sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, domestic violence, or stalking, regardless of whether that individual makes a report or seeks formal conduct (corrective) action.

    Resolution

    The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or incident.

    Responding party

    The individual(s) alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, regardless of whether or not formal conduct (corrective) action is taken.

    Retaliation

    Any adverse or harassing action against a reporting party, witness or support person engaged in a formal resolution procedure. It is a violation of University policy to retaliate in any way against a student or employee because he/she raised allegations of sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking. The University recognizes that retaliation can take many forms, and may be committed by or against an individual or a group.

    Sanctions

    Responsive action for a student or an employee who has been found to be in violation of the discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and/or relationship policy, but is not limited to warning, suspension, expulsion or termination.

    Sexual misconduct

    Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another individual without their consent. This includes sexual intercourse or sexual contact achieved by the use or threat of force or coercion, where an individual does not consent to the sexual act, or where an individual is incapacitated.

    Sexual exploitation

    An act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person's sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage or any other non-legitimate purpose. The act or acts of sexual exploitation are prohibited even though the behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples include, but are not limited to: Observing another individual's nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; Non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; Prostituting another individual; Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without his/her knowledge; and/or inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.

    Sexual harassment

    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual/gendered nature constitutes sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, educational, [residential] and/or social environment.

    Sexual violence

    Any physical sexual act perpetuated against a person’s will, without their consent or where the person is incapacitated. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to the crimes of rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion

    Stalking
    1. Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to-
      1. Fear for the person's safety or the safety of others; or
      2. Suffer substantial emotional distress
    2. For the purposes of this definition
      1. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, or interferes with a person's property.
      2. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
      3. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
    Timely Notice

    For the purposes of this policy, "timely notice" generally means within 48 hours after an incident has been brought to the attention of a "campus security authority" as defined in the Clery Act

    Timely Warning

    A warning issued by the University for incidents reported that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. 

    Title IX Coordinator

    The person to whom reports or complaints of discriminatory behavior, harassment, sexual misconduct, and relationship violence should be given. Responsible for Title IX administration and implementation.

    Title IX Team

    The person(s) designated to whom reports of discriminatory behavior, harassment, sexual misconduct, and relationship may be given. Person(s) trained in all aspects of the reporting and resolution process.