An understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicates a willingness by all parties to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent must be informed and freely and actively given. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly.
Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over a Complainant may be a factor in determining consent. A position of influence could include supervisory or disciplinary authority.
Silence, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in themselves, be taken to imply consent. While nonverbal consent is possible (through active participation), it is best to obtain verbal consent. Similarly, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.
Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly.
Read more about consent.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence, sometimes also called relationship violence, and including domestic and dating violence, includes acts of abusive or coercive behavior (physical, sexual, financial, verbal and/or emotional) used by a perpetrator to gain or exercise control over another, including any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Intimate partner violence can occur in relationships between persons of any gender.
Examples of intimate partner violence include, but are not limited to:
- hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pulling hair or other physical misconduct;
- isolating a partner from family and friends;
- destroying a roommate’s personal items;
- physically assaulting the child of a partner;
- pursuing sexual activity when a partner is not fully conscious, is not asked, or is afraid to say no, or coercing a partner to have sex without protection;
- threatening to reveal a person’s sexual orientation without the person’s permission;
- exhibiting excessive possessiveness and jealousy;
- constantly belittling or insulting a partner;
- checking a roommate’s cell phone or email account without permission;
- demanding that a partner dress or act in a certain way; and/or
- threatening violence against the victim’s acquaintances, friends, or family members.
The University's Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy specifically prohibits domestic and dating violence under the following definitions:
Includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
Any act of violence or threatened violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of the relationship, (ii) The type of relationship, and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual, emotional or physical abuse, or the threat of such abuse.
Gender Based Harassment
Unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on a person’s actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, and is prohibited when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; and/or
- submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment based on gender.
Examples of gender-based harassment include, but are not limited to:
- using derogatory comments and terms toward a male or female who do not act in ways that align with their gender stereotype, such as a male being called names for being interested in the arts or a female being called names for being interested in construction;
- telling someone to use a restroom that does not align with that person’s gender identity; and
- making generalized derogatory comments about one gender, such as “all females” are ______ or “all males” are _______.
Gender-based harassment is prohibited under the University's Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation.
Adverse employment or educational action against any person making a complaint of discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, assisting in making a complaint, resisting or openly opposing such conduct, or otherwise using or participating in the complaint investigation process under the Policy. Persons who file, or participate in the investigation or resolution of, claims or complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation with outside agencies, law enforcement or otherwise pursuant to any applicable state or federal law, are also protected from retaliation.
Prohibited retaliation includes, but is not limited to: threats; intimidation; reprisals; continued harassment or misconduct; other forms of harassment; slander and libel; and adverse actions related to employment or education.
Retaliation can be committed by individuals or groups, including friends, relatives or other associates of the person against whom a complaint is filed. Retaliation, even in the absence of proven discrimination, sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking in an underlying complaint, constitutes a policy violation that is just as serious as the main offense itself.
Retaliation is prohibited under the University's Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy as well as the University's Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation.
An offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Attempts to commit any of these acts are also prohibited.
Sexual Assault – Rape
The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person without the consent of the victim (or attempts to commit the same). This includes any gender of victim or Respondent.
Sexual Assault – Fondling
Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of age and/or because of temporary or permanent mental incapacity
Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent, which is 16 years old in Massachusetts.
Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Sexual Assault is prohibited by the University's Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy.
Sexual harassment is prohibited under the University's Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy as well as the University's Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation.
Title IX Sexual Harassment Definition:
Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following conditions:
- An employee of the University conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; or,
- 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 University’s education program or activity.
Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation Definition:Unwelcome verbal and/or physical conduct based on a person's sex constitutes hostile environment harassment when:
- it is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating or hostile; OR
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; OR
- submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.
Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual harassment and is taking sexual advantage of another person for one’s own benefit or the benefit of anyone other than that person without that person’s consent.
Examples of behavior that could rise to the level of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
- prostituting another person;
- recording images (e.g., video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent;
- distributing through social media, texting, email or other media images (e.g., video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted in the images or audio did not consent to such disclosure and objects to such disclosure; and
- viewing another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s consent.
Sexual harassment, and therefore sexual exploitation, is prohibited by the University's Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and the Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation. The specific conditions of the alleged behavior would determine which policy(ies) have jurisdiction.
Engaging in a course of conduct directed (directly, indirectly, through a third party or other means) at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this Policy, the behaviors must be directly related to that person’s sex.
Stalking may occur in a range of formats including, but not limited to, in-person conduct, writings, texting, voicemail, email, social media, following someone with a global position system (GPS), and video/audio recording.
Examples of stalking behaviors could include, but are not limited to:
- repeated unwanted or unsolicited contact or leaving unwanted gifts or items;
- posting disturbing messages or threats online;
- creating, attempting to create, or disseminating unauthorized recordings of another;
- gathering information about an individual from family, friends, co-workers, and/or classmates, or by electronic means by installing spy-ware on a computer or using GPS;
- threats in any form about an individual or their loved ones or threats to harm oneself;
- damaging, stealing, borrowing, or relocating property, trespassing and vandalism;
- pursuing, waiting, or showing up uninvited at a workplace, residence, classroom, or other locations frequented by an individual; and
- directing a third party to take any of the above acts.