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Gender-Based Misconduct and Title IX— terms and definitions

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

Complete definitions are below.

PROHIBITED CONDUCT

Discrimination

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex.

Discrimination within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 must occur within locations, events, or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the discrimination occurs; or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

  • The University of Akron prohibits discrimination related to sex including gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. The University of Akron grievance procedures for addressing this discrimination are outlined in this policy.

Discrimination within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the discrimination occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees.

Sexual harassment

  • As prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

Quid Pro Quo

An employee of The University of Akron conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of The University of Akron on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;

Hostile Environment

Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; or

Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking

  • Sexual assault as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting System
  • Domestic violence as defined by the Violence Against Women Act
  • Dating violence as defined by the Violence Against Women Act
  • Stalking as defined by the Violence Against Women Act

Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are further defined below.

Sexual harassment, within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, must occur within locations, events, or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

  • As prohibited by applicable University of Akron rules and policies, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual, sex-based, and/or gender-based verbal, written, electronic, and/or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or educational experience or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, educational or residential environment. Sexual Harassment includes but is not limited to:

Quid Pro Quo

Explicitly or implicitly conditioning an individual’s employment, academic status, or participation in an educational program or activity on the individual’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature made by a person having power or authority over the provision or denial of that employment, status, program, or activity.

Hostile Environment

Sexual, sex based, and/or gender-based verbal, written, electronic, and/or or physical conduct that a reasonable person would consider severe or pervasive and that unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational programs, employment, and activities, or creates a hostile or offensive work, educational, or campus residential environment.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Jokes, unwelcome questions, or comments about a person’s sexual history or sexual prowess;
  • Unwelcome sexual name calling;
  • Jokes or comments about a person’s perceived failure to conform to a gender-based stereotype, for example teasing a male whom the individual believes appears feminine;
  • Hanging or displaying sexually explicit photographs, drawings, posters, or desktop images in workspaces or public spaces;
  • Sending unwelcome e-mails, texts, social media messages/comments of a sexual nature, or denigrating a particular gender identity;
  • Jokes intended to deprecate a particular gender;
  • Assigning tasks or work to an individual based on a belief related to gender roles, for example “that’s women’s work”; or
  • Comments downplaying or ridiculing an individual’s major or decision to attend college based on gender roles, for example “women shouldn’t work” or “men can’t be nurses.”
  • Watching or displaying of pornography in public campus locations.

Sexual harassment, within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol, may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to adversely affect the University or its students and University employees.

Sexual Assault

  • As prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting System, sexual assault is defined as forcible and non-forcible sex offenses and includes:

Rape

The carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her/their age or because of his/her/their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. Carnal knowledge is defined as the slightest penetration of the sexual organ of the female (vagina) by the sexual organ of the male (penis).

Sodomy

Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her/their age or because of his/her/their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Sexual Assault with an Object

Use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slight, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her/their age or because of his/her/their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. An object or instrument is anything used by the offender other than the offender’s genitalia, e.g., a finger, bottle, handgun, stick.

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/their age or because of his/her/their temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

Incest

Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

Statutory Rape

Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual assault within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 must occur within locations, events, or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual assault occurs; or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

  • As prohibited by The University of Akron’s rules or policies, sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, or sexual offenses prohibited by applicable federal, state, or municipal law.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force.  Sexual contact includes intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; or any other intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Any sexual intercourse however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. Intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger, an oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

Sexual assault within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual assault occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and/or University employees.

Dating Violence

Dating violence is an act of violence committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the complainant. The existence of such a romantic or intimate relationship is determined by the length of the relationship; the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Threats of physical violence;
  • Physical violence, including but not limited to:
    • Being slammed or held against a wall;
    • Being slapped, kicked, choked or burned;
    • Having an arm twisted, fingers bent or other action to intimidate or otherwise coerce behavior;
  • Threats or manipulation intended to control a party’s behavior or isolate a party from their friends, families or loved ones;
  • Limiting or controlling access to money or financial resources; or
  • Action that causes a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others.

Dating violence within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 must occur within locations, events, or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the dating violence occurs; or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

Dating violence within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the dating violence occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an act of violence committed by:

  • A current or former spouse or intimate partner of the complainant;
  • A person with whom the complainant shares a child in common;
  • A person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the complainant as a spouse or intimate partner.
  • A person similarly situated to a spouse or the victim under the domestic/family violence laws of the jurisdiction,
  • Any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s act under the domestic/family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Domestic violence within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 must occur within locations, events or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the domestic violence occurs; or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

Domestic violence within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the domestic violence occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees adversely.

Stalking

  • As prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and defined by the Violence Against Women Act, stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person on the basis of sex that would cause a reasonable person with similar characteristics, under similar circumstances, to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.
  • 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.

Stalking within the jurisdiction defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act 1972 must occur within locations, events, or circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the stalking occurs or in any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by The University of Akron.

  • As prohibited by University of Akron rules or policies, 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 actively following, harassing, threatening, or intimidating another including 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.

Stalking within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the stalking or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and/or University employees adversely.

Battery

As prohibited by The University of Akron, battery is intentionally, or negligently, causing physical contact or bodily harm to another person because of a person’s sex or gender.

Battery within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the discrimination occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees.

Indecent Exposure

As prohibited by The University of Akron, 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 and/or engaging in sexual activity in public.

Indecent Exposure within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the discrimination occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees.

Sexual Exploitation

As prohibited by The University of Akron, sexual exploitation is taking non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • taking, sharing, or copying pictures, video, or audio recording of nudity or sexual activity without consent;
  • knowingly allowing another to secretly watch otherwise consensual sexual activity; 
  • engaging in non-consensual voyeurism;
  • sex trafficking or coercing another person to perform a sexual act with an individual or group; 
  • inducing another to touch or expose their genitals; or
  • possession, use, and/or distribution of alcohol or other drug (e.g., Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burudanga, etc.) for the purpose of engaging in or facilitating any activity prohibited herein.

Sexual Exploitation within the jurisdiction defined by The University of Akron Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Protocol may occur within circumstances in which The University of Akron exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the discrimination occurs or within circumstances deemed by the University to affect adversely the University or its students and University employees.

Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when an individual or group intimidates, threatens, coerces, or discriminates against an individual(s) for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or this protocol or because the individual(s) has made a report or formal complaint of a violation of University policy, or testified, assisted, participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing. A good faith pursuit of legal action or the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment does not constitute retaliation.

CONSENT

Consent

Consent is a clear, unambiguous, knowing and voluntary agreement, whether verbal or non-verbal, 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, nor is it consent to the same sexual act at another time.
  • Conduct will be considered “non-consensual” if no clear consent is given. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes”, nor does silence, passivity, or lack of resistance constitute consent.
  • A person has the right to change one’s mind at any time during any sexual act. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, as long as the person clearly informs the other party of the withdrawal, and the sexual act must stop immediately.
  • A person who is incapacitated cannot give consent.
  • Consent cannot be obtained through coercion or force.
  • Consent cannot be inferred from an existing or previous dating or sexual relationship. Even within an existing relationship, the parties must consent to engage in any sexual act each time it occurs.
  • Taking drugs or consuming alcohol does not relieve the obligation to obtain consent.

In determining whether consent was sought and given, all relevant circumstances regarding what the respondent knew, or reasonably should have known will be evaluated.

Coercion

Coercion is conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear and that is used to compel that person to engage in a sexual act.

Examples of coercive conduct include intimidation, unreasonable pressure, and express or implied threats of immediate or future harm to the person or others. Harm may be a physical, emotional, reputational, financial, or other injury to that person or another, or to personal property.

Force

Force is the use of physical action, strength, weapons or violence to compel a person to participate in a sexual act.

Incapacitation

An incapacitated person lacks the ability to make an informed, rational, voluntary judgment about engaging in any sexual act because they lack the capacity to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of a situation or interaction. 

A person can be incapacitated due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition, developmental delay or due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol.  An individual who is physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual act is taking place is incapacitated and unable to give consent.  When drugs or alcohol are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication.

Under this Policy, a person has not obtained consent when they initiate a sexual act with another person who they know or reasonably should have known was incapacitated.

INVOLVED PARTIES

Complainant

An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or conduct prohibited by the gender-based misconduct and Title IX policy and protocol.

Respondent

An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or conduct prohibited by the gender-based misconduct and Title IX policy and protocol.

Witness

A witness is an individual who may have additional information about a report or formal complaint of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or conduct prohibited by the gender-based misconduct and Title IX policy and protocol.

REPORTS AND FORMAL COMPLAINTS

Report

A report refers to notice provided to the University alleging sexual harassment or conduct prohibited by the gender-based misconduct and Title IX policy and protocol.

Formal Complaint

A document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment or conduct prohibited by the gender-based misconduct and Title IX policy and protocol against a respondent and requesting the University investigate the allegation.