Title IX | Definitions

Prohibited Conduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad, non-legal term that encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and stalking. It is a violation of University policy as well as applicable law to commit or to attempt to commit these acts.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect of creating a hostile or stressful living, learning, or working environment, or whenever toleration of such conduct or rejection of it is the basis for an academic or employment decision affecting an individual. Conduct is considered unwelcome if the person did not request or invite it and considered the conduct to be undesirable or offensive.

Sexual harassment includes any conduct or incident that is sufficiently serious that it is likely to limit or deny a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the University's educational programs or a faculty or staff member's ability to work, which may include a single incident of sexual assault or other serious sexual misconduct.

Sexual Violence
Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment. Sexual violence is actual or attempted sexual contact with another person without that person's consent. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Intentional touching of another person's intimate parts without that person's consent
  • Other intentional sexual contact with another person without that person's consent
  • Coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force a person to touch another person's intimate parts without that person's consent
  • Rape, which is 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.

Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate-Partner Violence includes, but is not limited to, dating violence, domestic violence, and relationship violence, including any threat or act of violence against a person who is or has been involved in sexual dating, domestic or intimate relationship with another person. It may involve one act or an ongoing behavior. Behaviors include, but are not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence and/or economic abuse. Intimate-partner violence may also include: threats, assault, property damage, or violence or threat of violence to one's self, one's sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate-partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations and does not discriminate by racial, social, or economic background.

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Course of conduct is defined as "a pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time; however, evidencing a continuity of conduct." Stalking is a crime in Pennsylvania and is subject to criminal prosecution.

Stalking includes any behaviors or activities occurring on more than one occasion that collectively instills fear in a victim and/or threatens her or his safety, mental health, or physical health. Such behaviors and activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Non-consensual communication, including face-to-face communication, telephone calls, voice messages, emails, written letters, gifts, or any other communications that are undesired and place another person in fear; pursuing, following, waiting, or showing up uninvited at or near a residence, workplace, classroom, or other places frequented by the victim;
  • Use of online, electronic, or digital technologies, including:
  • Posting of pictures or information in chat rooms or on websites;
  • Sending unwanted/unsolicited email or talk requests;
  • Posting private or public messages on Internet sites, social networking sites, and/or school bulletin boards;
  • Installing spyware on a victim's computer;
  • Using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to monitor a victim.
  • Surveillance or other types of observation, including staring or "peeping";
  • Trespassing;
  • Vandalism;
  • Non-consensual touching;
  • Direct verbal or physical threats;
  • Gathering information about an individual from friends, family, and/or co-workers;
  • Threats to harm self or others;
  • Defamation – lying to others about the victim.

Consent is defined by the University as an action that is:

  • clear, knowing and voluntary;
  • active, not passive;
  • words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.

Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Sexual activity as a result of coercion is non-consensual.

Consent cannot be given under certain conditions. These conditions include: while asleep, unconscious, physically or mentally helpless, disoriented or unable to understand what is happening for any reason, including due to alcohol or drug use, or being under the age of 17 (the legal age of consent). A person will be considered unable to give consent if he/she cannot understand the specifics of the sexual interaction, (i.e. who, what, when, where, and how). A person under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not relieved of his/her responsibility to appreciate another's inability to consent. A person who engages in sexual activity with another when that person knows, or should know, that the other person does not, or is unable to, consent has violated this policy.

The term Complainant refers to the individual(s) who has been the subject of prohibited conduct, regardless of whether that individual makes a complaint or seeks disciplinary action.

The term Respondent refers to the individual(s) who has been accused of prohibited conduct.