Definitions

To help inform the campus community of the scope of our Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy, the following terms are defined.  Please note that some of these terms may also be used in other contexts, such as connection with criminal or legal proceedings, and their meaning may be different in those contexts.


Coercion

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Words and/or conduct that substantially impairs an individual’s ability to voluntarily choose whether to engage in a sexual activity. It exists when a person applies an unreasonable amount of pressure on another for sex. For example, when a person makes clear that s/he does not want sex, wants to stop, or that going past a certain point of sexual interaction is unwanted, continued pressure can be coercive. Coercion is evaluated based on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the words or actions.


Complainant

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Individual who experienced the reported Prohibited Conduct, regardless of whether that individual made the report, participated in the University’s review and investigation, or filed a formal complaint alleging violations of this Policy. If an individual who experienced Prohibited Conduct chooses not to file a formal complaint, the University may at its discretion initiate an investigation and serve as the Complainant in any proceeding under this Policy and accompanying Procedures.


Complicity

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Any act that knowingly aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of Prohibited Conduct by another person.


Confidential Employee

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

>Employees who are not required to report incidents of Prohibited Conduct to the University. >Confidential Employees include the employees in the following University offices:
  • Brady Health
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Consent

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Clear, voluntary and unambiguous agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a specific sexual activity.

Consent must be obtained. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in the sexual activity to ensure that s/he has consent from the other party, and that the other party is capable of consent. Accordingly, when there is a dispute as to whether sexual activity was consensual, the University’s investigation will assess whether the person initiating the sexual activity knew, or should have known, that the sexual activity was not consensual or that the other party was incapable of providing consent.

Consent must be affirmative. Consent requires an affirmative demonstration, through words or actions that conveys a clear willingness to engage in a sexual activity. As a result:

  • An individual cannot infer consent through silence, lack of resistance, or absence of a verbal “no” or “stop.” Relying solely on non-verbal communication may result in a violation of this Policy.

  • Consent cannot be inferred by the existence of a current or prior dating or sexual relationship between individuals.

  • Consent to any one form of sexual activity does not automatically imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

  • Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.

Consent must be ongoing. Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity and may be withdrawn at any time. However, withdrawal of consent requires an outward demonstration, through understandable words or actions, which clearly conveys that a party is no longer willing to engage in the sexual activity. If there is any confusion as to whether there is consent or whether prior consent has been withdrawn, the parties should stop the activity until the confusion is resolved.

Consent must be voluntary. Consent can never be obtained by use of physical force, threats, intimidating behavior or Coercion. Furthermore, consent cannot be obtained by taking advantage of an individual’s inability to give consent because of Incapacitation.


Force

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force can include threats, intimidation, and Coercion that are used to overcome resistance.


Gender-Based Violence

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Unwelcome verbal, physical, or electronic conduct of a nonsexual nature based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation, or gender identity that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance (i.e., it is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or offensive working or learning environment). For example, harassment for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s sex or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression may violate the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy.


Incapacitation/Incapacitated

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

A state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because the individual lacks the mental and/or physical ability to understand the nature of the sexual activity (i.e., the who, what, where, why, or how of the sexual activity). There are a number of causes for incapacitation, including, but not limited to:

  • Being asleep or unconscious
  • Intermittent consciousness
  • Existence of a mental or developmental disability
  • Consumption of alcohol or other drugs

Alcohol or drug use is one of the primary causes of incapacitation, but consumption alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. Incapacitation is a state beyond intoxication, impairment of judgment, or “drunkenness.” The impact of alcohol and drugs vary from person to person, and evaluating whether an individual is incapacitated and unable to give Consent, requires an assessment whether the consumption of alcohol or other drugs has rendered the individual physically helpless and substantially incapable of:

  • Making decisions about the potential consequences of the sexual activity;
  • Appraising the nature of one’s own conduct;
  • Communicating consent to the sexual activity; or
  • Communicating unwillingness to engage in the sexual activity.

An individual who is incapacitated is unable to consent to sexual activity. Under this Policy, in evaluating Incapacitation, the University will assess whether the Respondent knew or should have known, the Complainant was incapacitated.


Interim Measures

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Temporary actions taken by the University to protect the safety and wellbeing of the parties and to foster a more stable and safe environment during the University’s investigation and resolution process. Interim Measures are initiated based on information gathered when an incident of Prohibited Conduct is reported to the University. Interim Measures are not intended to be permanent and thus may be amended or withdrawn as additional information is gathered.


No Contact Order

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

An official University directive that serves as notice to an individual that they are prohibited from verbal, electronic, written, or third party communications with another individual. The University may issue a No Contact Order as a remedial and protective measure, including as an Interim Measure, in order to enhance the safety of all parties, the broader University community, and/or to protect the integrity of the University’s investigation and resolution process.


Relationship Violence

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Relationship violence is a broad term that encompasses Domestic Violence and Dating Violence.

  1. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to sexual or physical abuse committed by any of the following individuals:

  • 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 who has cohabitated with the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner;
  • a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant; or
  • any other person against an adult or youth complainant protected from those acts by Maryland’s domestic and family laws. For the purposes of this Policy, individuals are not covered within the scope of this definition solely by virtue of their status as a roommate or former roommate in University housing or as a co-tenant or former co-tenant in off-campus housing shared with other students.

Under Maryland law, domestic abuse includes: assault; an act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm or an act that causes a person seriously bodily harm; attempted or actual rape or sexual offense; stalking; and false imprisonment. Under §§ 4-504 through 4-511 of the Family Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Complainants may seek relief from the court by filing a petition for a peace or protective against the Respondent. Maryland laws provides criminal penalties for violations of certain orders of protection.

2.    Dating Violence

Physical or sexual abuse committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant. Whether the relationship is of a romantic or intimate nature is determined by a variety of factors, which include:

  • the length of the relationship;
  • the type of relationship; and
  • the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Retaliation

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Acts or words against an individual because of the person’s participation in a complaint, investigation, and/or resolution of an allegation of Prohibited Conduct.

  • Retaliation can be committed by one individual or a group of individuals, not just by a Respondent or Complainant.
  • Retaliation may include intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, and adverse employment or educational actions.

Retaliation is strictly prohibited under Title IX and this Policy. Accordingly, any individual who is found to have engaged in Retaliation is subject to discipline, which can include expulsion or termination of employment. A report of Retaliation will be viewed as a separate offense under this Policy, which means that an individual may be found responsible for retaliation even if no one is found responsible in the underlying report of Prohibited Conduct. Individuals who believe they are being subjected to Retaliation should promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator.


Respondent

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

An individual accused of engaging in conduct that violates the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy.


Responsible Employee

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

An employee who has the authority to address Prohibited Conduct, who has a duty to report incidents of Prohibited Conduct, or who a member of the University community could reasonably believe has such authority or duty. Except for the Confidential Employees identified above, all University employees have been designated as Responsible Employees by the University.


Responsible Employees who learn of or witness Prohibited Conduct involving a student or third-party are required to report such Prohibited Conduct to the Office of Gender Equity. Responsible Employees who are officers, department chairs, deans, directors, managers, or supervisors are also required to report Prohibited Conduct that they learn of or witness involving a University employee to the Office of Gender Equity.


Sexual Exploitation

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another person for one’s own advantage or benefit or for anyone other than the person being exploited, or taking advantage of another person’s sexuality.

Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • non-consensual sharing or streaming of images, photography, video, audio recordings of nudity or sexual activity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without his or her knowledge;
  • knowingly failing to use contraception without the other party’s knowledge;
  • inducing Incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity; and
  • threatening to disclose an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Sexual Harassment

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Sexual Harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination and means any unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal, physical, or electronic conduct of a sexual nature when:

1.    Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work, or participation in a University-sponsored educational program or activity;

2.    Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for an academic, employment, or activity or program participation decision affecting that individual; or

3.    Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, (i.e., it is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning or sexually offensive working or learning environment).

A person’s subjective belief alone that the behavior is offensive does not necessarily make that behavior Sexual Harassment. The behavior must be objectively reasonable meaning that a reasonable person in similar circumstances and with similar identities would find the behavior hostile, intimidating, or abusive.  

A single isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to create a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.

Sexual harassment:

  • May be blatant and involve an overt action, threat, or reprisal; or may be subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated but implied.
  • May or may not include an intent to harm.
  • May not always be directed at a specific individual.
  • May be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, position, or authority. While there may be a power differential between the parties, often due to differences in age, educational, employment, or social status, harassment can occur in any context.
  • May be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the Complainant has a current or previous relationship, including a romantic or sexual relationship.
  • May be committed by or against an individual or may be a result of the actions of an organization or group.
  • May occur in the classroom, in the workplace, in residential settings, or in any other setting.
  • May occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
  • May be committed in the presence of others or when the parties are alone.
  • May occur through electronic communications, including email, text message, and social media.

The following list contains examples of behavior of a sexual nature that if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment.

Physical Conduct: touching, hugging, kissing, fondling, touching oneself sexually for others to view, sexual violence.

Verbal Conduct: sexual or “dirty jokes,” comments on physical attributes or an individual’s body, spreading sexual rumors, bragging about one’s sexual activity in front of others, using sexually degrading words or sounds to a person or to describe a person, sexually explicit statements or stories that are not legitimately related to employment duties, course content, research, or other University program or activity.

Visual Conduct: leering, displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures, and/or written material.

Written Conduct: letters, emails, instant messaging, text messaging, blogs, web pages, and social media containing comments, words, or images of conduct described above.

Quid pro quo: making an academic or employment decision dependent on whether an individual submits to sexual advances, threatening reprisals after an individual has turned down sexual advances, offering academic or employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.


Sexual Intimidation

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Threatening behavior of a sexual nature directed at another person. Sexual intimidation includes:

  1. threatening to sexually assault another person;
  2. engaging in indecent exposure; and
  3. gender-based stalking, including cyber-stalking

Sexual Misconduct

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

A broad term that encompasses Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Intimidation, and Sexual Violence. Sexual Misconduct can occur between people of the same sex or between people of different sexes. It can also include both intentional conduct and conduct that results in negative effects, even if those negative effects were unintended.


Sexual Violence

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

Physical sexual acts perpetrated without Consent. Sexual Violence includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.

1.    Sexual Assault I – Nonconsensual sexual intercourse involves any act of sexual intercourse with another individual without Consent. Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with any body part or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.

2.    Sexual Assault II – Nonconsensual sexual contact involves any intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without Consent. Intimate parts may include genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, or any other body part that is touched in a sexual manner. Sexual contact also includes attempted sexual intercourse.

Certain acts of Sexual Violence are crimes in the state of Maryland in addition to violations of this Policy. Under Maryland Criminal Procedure Article § 11-922, “sexual assault” means rape or a sexual offense in any degree that is specified in §§ 3-303 through 3-324 of the Criminal Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.


Stalking

As defined in the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy

A course of physical or verbal conduct directed at another individual that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.

  • A “course of conduct” consists of at least two acts.
  • “Substantial emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical treatment or professional counseling.
  • A “reasonable person” means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  • Stalking includes cyber-stalking (i.e., using electronic means such as the Internet, social media, blogs, cell phones, texts, etc., to pursue, harass, or make unwelcome contract with another person in an unsolicited fashion).

In addition to violating this Policy, stalking is a crime in Maryland under § 3-802 of the Criminal Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.


For more information on the aforementioned terms, please review the Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Policy.