Definitions of Prohibited Conduct
Definitions of Prohibited Conduct
Sexual Misconduct includes the following:
Sexual assault is the act of committing unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, whether by an intimate partner, acquaintance or by a stranger. Such contact is unwanted when it occurs without the affirmative consent of one or both individuals, when one of the individuals is incapacitated or incapable of giving affirmative consent, or the contact occurs with the use of force, coercion, or the attempt to coerce or force. Victims/survivors (complainants) and the accused (Respondent) can be of any sex/gender, sexual orientation and/or sexual identity. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to:
- Nonconsensual Physical Contact (or attempts to commit same) - any intentional sexual touching of another person's intimate body parts, with any object or body part without that person's affirmative consent.
- Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same) - any penetration, however slight, of the (1) vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object without that person's affirmative consent or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person's affirmative consent.
Sexual assault is also prohibited by Massachusetts statutory law. Prohibited sexual assault as defined above may include but is not limited to: rape, indecent assault and battery and incest.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational status or as a basis for employment or academic decisions; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance; depriving a student or employee or other individual of the ability to participate in or derive full benefit from any educational or employment opportunity; or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for education, employment, social, and/or residential living.
The University recognizes that sexual harassment may occur regardless of the formal position or status of each person involved. It occurs in relationships where the behavior exploits unfairly the power inherent in the position, such as between teacher and student, supervisor and subordinate, or between a student with a position of authority over another student.
Intent is not an element of sexual harassment. It is difficult to define with precision the kinds of verbal or physical behavior that constitute sexual harassment because it depends on circumstances such as the severity, persistence, and/or pervasiveness of the conduct; the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; the relationship between the harasser and the recipient of the harassment; the degree to which the conduct affected an individual’s education or employment; and whether it is a pattern of behavior. Although it is not possible to list all types of conduct that, if unwelcome, might constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples:
- Seeking sexual favors or relationships in return for the promise of a favorable grade, letter of recommendation, promotion, salary increase, or other academic opportunity; or
- Offensive and persistent risqué jokes or kidding about sex or gender-specific traits; or
- Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes, regardless of the means of communication (oral, written, electronic, etc.); or
- Sexual comments or inappropriate references to gender; or
- Sexually suggestive sounds or gestures such as sucking noises, winks, pelvic thrusts, eating food suggestively; or
- Repeated unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual relations; or
- Comments about or unwanted touching, patting, punching, stroking, squeezing, tickling, or brushing against a person; or
- A neck/shoulder massage; or
- Rating a person’s sexuality; or
- Sexual looks and lewd gestures, such as leering or ogling with suggestive overtones; or
- Spreading rumors about a person’s sexuality or sexual orientation; or
- Name calling; or
- Inquiries or commentaries about sexual activity, experience, sexual orientation, or gender expression; or
- The display of inappropriate sexually oriented material in a location where others can view them including but not limited to pornography, pictures, drawings, calendars, cartoons, or other materials.
Affirmative consent must be informed, voluntary, and active, meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Affirmative consent can be withdrawn at any time and cannot be obtained by force, expressed or implied, or when physical violence, threats, intimidation, and/or coercion is used. Affirmative consent to one form of sexual activity does not, by itself, constitute affirmative consent to another form. Past consent to sexual activity with another person does not imply ongoing future consent with that person or consent to the same sexual activity with another person.
Silence, absence of protest, or absence of resistance does not imply affirmative consent. Relying solely on non-verbal communication before or during sexual activity can lead to misunderstanding and may result in violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct. In order to avoid confusion or ambiguity, participants are encouraged to talk with one another before engaging in sexual activity. If confusion or ambiguity arises during sexual activity, participants are encouraged to stop and clarify a mutual willingness to continue the activity.
Affirmative consent cannot be gained by the taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated. Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether to engage in sexual activity.
A person who is incapacitated is unable to give affirmative consent because of mental or physical incapacitation or impairment, which may include sleep, unconsciousness, or lack of awareness that sexual activity is taking place. A person may be incapacitated as a result of the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, or due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition. When evaluating whether someone consented to sexual activity after consuming alcohol or drugs, the University will consider whether a reasonable person would have known about the impact of alcohol and other drugs on the other party’s ability to give consent.
- Prostitution (such as selling or exchanging money or something else of value or benefit for sexual acts); or
- Taking pictures or video or audio recording of another in a sexual act or in any other private sexual activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity, or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent); or
- Exposing one’s genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in nonconsensual circumstances; or
- Unauthorized posting or distribution of materials involving the sexual activity of another person, including electronic postings; sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person who is undressing, using the bathroom, or engaging in sexual acts without the consent of the person observed); or
- Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or another sexually transmitted infection (STI) and without informing the other person of the infection; or
- Hazing or bullying relating to sex or gender; or
- Administering alcohol or drugs (such as “date rape” drugs) to another person without their knowledge or effective consent.
Stalking, which includes cyberstalking, means a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person that seriously alarms or annoys that person and makes a threat with the intent to cause a reasonable person to fear for their or others’ safety or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Relationship Violence Relationship Violence encompasses dating violence, intimate partner violence, and domestic violence.
Relationship Violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Relationship Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former intimate partner, or spouse of a victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as intimate partner or spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under Massachusetts law, or by a spouse or any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected under the domestic or family violence laws of Massachusetts.