Definitions

The following terms are used in the College's sexual misconduct and harassment policy:

Reporting party refers to the person(s) who reports to the College that he/she has been the subject of sexual misconduct or harassment. 

Responding party refers to the person(s) who is reported to have committed acts of sexual misconduct or harassment.  

Third party refers to any other participant in the process, including a witness to the misconduct or an individual who makes a report on behalf of someone else.

Consent: Consent to engage in sexual activity must be informed, knowing and voluntary.  Consent exists when all parties exchange mutually understandable affirmative words or behavior indicating their agreement to freely participate in mutual sexual activity. The following further clarifies the definition of consent:


•    Each participant in a sexual encounter is expected to obtain and give consent to each act of sexual activity. Consent to one form of sexual activity does not constitute consent to engage in all forms of sexual activity.
•    If at any time it is reasonably apparent that either party is hesitant, confused or unsure, both parties should stop and obtain mutual verbal consent before continuing such activity.
•    Consent may be withdrawn by either party at any time. Withdrawal of consent must also be outwardly demonstrated by words or actions that clearly indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease.
•    Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Relying on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings.  Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of an active response alone. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent.   
•    Individuals with a previous or current intimate relationship do not automatically give either initial or continued consent to sexual activity.  Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity.
•    An individual who is physically incapacitated from alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntarily or involuntarily), or is unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless is considered unable to give consent. For example, one who is asleep or passed out cannot give consent.

Coercion: Consent cannot be given if it results from the use or threat of physical force, intimidation, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his/her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact.  Coercion includes the use of pressure and/or oppressive behavior, including express or implied threats of harm, severe and/or pervasive emotional intimidation, which places an individual in fear of immediate or future harm or physical injury or causes a person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct amount to coercion if they wrongfully impair the other’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity.  Coercion also includes administering a drug, intoxicant or similar substance that impairs the person’s ability to give consent.

Incapacitation: An individual who is incapacitated is not able to make rational, reasonable judgments and therefore is incapable of giving consent.  Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to drug or alcohol consumption, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring.  In addition, an individual is incapacitated if he/she demonstrates that they are unaware of where they are, how they got there, or why or how they became engaged in a sexual interaction. Where alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Some indicators of incapacitation may include, but are not limited to, lack of control over physical movements, being unaware of circumstances or surroundings, or being unable to communicate for any reason.  


An individual in a blackout state may or may not meet the definition of incapacitation.  Such an individual may appear to act normally but may not have later recall of the events in question.  The extent to which a person in this state affirmatively gives words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in sexual activity and the other person is unaware – or reasonably could not have known – of the alcohol consumption or blackout, must be evaluated in determining whether consent could be considered as having been given.