Title IX and gender-based misconduct— terms and definitions

To better understand The University of Akron's gender-based misconduct protocols, it is important that you understand what specific words, behaviors and actions mean in the context of Title IX.

Complete definitions are below.


Gender-based discrimination

Gender-based discrimination is treating someone unfavorably because of that person’s sex or gender. An example of gender-based discrimination is when a person is treated unfavorably in class, at work, or in housing due to social behavior such as the nonconformance of gender roles.

Sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sex or gender based verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with a student’s work or educational experience or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working, educational or residential environment. Sexual harassment includes sex or gender based conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational programs and activities. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to demonstrate a hostile environment. In fact, a single severe incident may be sufficient to create a hostile environment. Sexual Harassment exists when:

  • Quid pro quo
    There are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct and submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student's employment or academic status. The submission or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions.

  • Hostile Environment
    There is verbal or physical sexual conduct that is sufficiently severe or persistent that it unreasonably interferes with a student’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work, educational or campus residential environment.

Intimate partner violence/interpersonal violence

The following behaviors are considered intimate partner violence or interpersonal violence and are prohibited:

  • Dating Violence
    Dating Violence is an act of violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of an intimate or romantic nature with the victim. Examples include threatened physical violence, intimidation or force that causes a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the following factors:

    • Length of the relationship
    • Type of relationship.
    • Frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  • Domestic Violence
    Domestic Violence is an act of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim or a person who is cohabiting with, or has cohabited with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner or person similarly situated, or by a parent with whom the victim shares a child in common.
  • Stalking
    Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes repeatedly following, harassing, threatening, or intimidating another by telephone, mail, electronic communication, social media, or any other action, device or method that purposely or knowingly causes substantial emotional distress or reasonable fear of bodily injury or death.
    • 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. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
  • Battery
    Intentionally or negligently, causing physical contact or bodily harm to another person. When this action is taken because of a person's sex or gender-based the crime is also prohibited by this policy.


Retaliation, including vengeful harassment, against any individual who reports, makes a formal complaint, pursues legal action, participates in an investigation or is a witness in any investigation of gender-based misconduct is strictly prohibited. Retaliation is prohibited by Title IX. Like sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, interpersonal violence and sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination, retaliation is a violation of this policy.

Sexual misconduct

The following behaviors are considered sexual misconduct and are criminal actions:

  • Sexual assault
    Sexual assault is any sexual act directed against another person, without their consent, including instances where the person is incapable of giving consent. Examples include:

    • Rape
      Any non-consensual sexual intercourse, defined as any sexual penetration however slight, with any body part or object by any person upon any person without consent.
    • 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 or physical incapacity.
    • Statutory Rape
      Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
    • Incest
      Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees where marriage is prohibited by law.
  • Sexual exploitation
    Sexual exploitation is taking non-consensual, unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another. Examples include non-consensual video or audio recording of sexual activity, going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as knowingly allowing another to secretly watch otherwise consensual sexual activity) and engaging in non-consensual voyeurism.

  • Indecent exposure
    Indecent exposure is the exposure of the private or intimate parts of the body in a lewd manner in public or in private when the respondent(s) may be readily observed.



Consent is when a person agrees or gives permission to another person to engage in certain sexual acts. Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement between all parties to participate in each and every sexual act.

  • Consent to one sexual act does not imply consent to other or all sexual acts.
  • Conduct will be considered “non-consensual” if no clear consent, verbal or non-verbal, is given. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes.”
  • A person has the right to change one’s mind at any time during the act. In other words, consent can be withdrawn at any point, as long as the person clearly informs the other party of the withdrawal.
  • Taking drugs or consuming alcohol does not relieve the obligation to obtain consent.

Effective Consent

Effective consent can be given by words or actions so long as the words or actions create a mutual understanding between all parties regarding the conditions of the sexual activity. A helpful tool is to ask yourself: “Do all of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, when, where, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?”

Consent in Relationships

Current or past sexual relationships or current or past dating relationships are not sufficient grounds to constitute consent.

  • Regardless of past experiences with other partners or a current partner, consent must be obtained.
  • Consent can never be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. A person has the right to say “no” and has the right to change their mind at any time for whatever reason.

Incapacitation – Cannot Give Consent (No Matter What They Might Say)

Incapacitation can occur in several ways. For example, when a person is severely intoxicated due to use of alcohol or drugs. They may be unconscious or severely impaired. A helpful tool is to ask yourself: “Do all of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, when, where, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?” A person may also be incapacitated if that person is physically or mentally disabled.


The use of force, threat of force, deception or when a person is beaten, threatened, isolated, or intimidated. When a person affirmatively demonstrates that (1) they do not want to have sex, (2) they want to stop any sort of the sexual acts, or (3) they do not want to go any further, the other party must stop completely. Continued pressure after that point can be coercive. A person is not required to physically or otherwise resist an aggressor.



Complainant(s) are individuals who are eligible to file a formal complaint or to report a violation of this policy. Complainants also include any person who is reported to have experienced a violation of this policy in cases where a third party has made a report. Terms that may be commonly used to describe a complainant: survivor, victim, target, or reporting party.


Respondent(s) are individuals who have been alleged to have violated this policy. Terms that may be commonly used to describe a respondent: accused, alleged, perpetrator, or responding party.


A Witness is an individual who may have additional information about a report or formal complaint of gender-based misconduct. Witnesses may include, but are not limited to: eye-witnesses, friends, police, University students and staff who responded to an incident or received an initial report.

Third Party Reports

Students, active bystanders, family, or other concerned individuals are not required, but are able to report gender-based misconduct. Reports from third parties will result in the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students contacting the complainant as with all other such reports.



A Report refers to notice provided to the University that gender-based misconduct has or may have occurred. Reports may be submitted by a complainant, respondent, responsible employee, a campus security authority (CSA), or by a third party.

Formal Complaint

A formal complaint refers to a request for an investigation by The University of Akron to determine if a University Policy has been violated or a criminal act has occurred. The University of Akron Police Department (or local police agency), The Department of Student Conduct and Community Standards, or The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigate formal complaints. Formal complaints may be initiated by a complainant, The University of Akron Title IX Coordinator, or their designee.



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