Coercion means the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to initiate or continue sexual activity against an individual’s will. Coercion is more than an effort to gain consent, or persuade, entice, or attract another person to engage in sexual activity.
Consent is a voluntary, affirmative agreement to sexual activity proposed by another and requires mutually understandable and communicated words and/or actions that would demonstrate to a reasonable person agreement by both parties to participate in sexual activity. Sexual activity requires consent from all involved parties. Consent must be freely given, without physical force, threats, intimidating behavior, duress, or coercion. Silence, a lack of resistance, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in itself, constitute consent. The initiator, or the person who wants to engage in the specific sexual activity, must obtain consent from the partner(s) for each sexual act. Both parties may be initiators at different points of sexual activity. A person’s initiation of a sexual act constitutes consent to that act, but not necessarily subsequent acts. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, and the withdrawal must be communicated in mutually understandable words and/or actions; if so, sexual activity must cease immediately.
Consent may never be given: by minors (in Massachusetts, those not yet 16 years of age), mentally disabled persons, or those who are incapacitated as a result of intoxication by alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary) or those who are unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless. A person who is incapacitated as a result of intoxication cannot give consent to sexual activity. Incapacitation is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because they lack the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of their sexual activities.
Discrimination occurs when a person is subject to negative or adverse treatment, based on one or more of the protected characteristics described in the University’s Equal Opportunity Policy (race, color, religion, religious creed, genetics, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, veteran or disability status) that denies or limits the individual’s ability to obtain educational benefits or interferes with the work environment.
Domestic Violence is the intentional infliction of physical, sexual or psychological harm on a current or former roommate, partner or spouse. Domestic violence includes dating, intimate partner and relationship violence.
Hostile Environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from, the university’s education or employment programs and/or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.
Prohibited Offenses is the conduct prohibited by this policy and includes Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Gender-based Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking and Retaliation involving a student or students
With penetration: the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by an inanimate object, penis, or other bodily part without consent, as defined below.
Without penetration: the touching of the intimate body parts of another (for example, breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals or the clothing covering them). The attempted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of an individual(s) by an inanimate object, penis or other bodily part without consent, as defined above.
Sexual Exploitation means when a person(s) takes non-consensual sexual advantage of another, for any purpose. Sexual Exploitation includes but is not limited to:
- Inducing Incapacitation for the Purpose of Sexual Activity: Providing drugs, alcohol, or other substances to a person(s) with or without their knowledge, with the intent to impair their ability to withhold consent or their ability to knowingly consent to sexual activity.
- Photographing or Video/Audio Taping of Sexual Activity: The intentional viewing, filming, photographing, and/or recording in any manner or by any means transmitting and/or disseminating any recording of any type of sexual acts, partial or full nudity, and/or related materials, sounds, or images of another person without the consent of all parties involved.
- Voyeurism: The act of intentionally observing, spying on or listening to a person(s) involved in sexual activity or in any state of undress. Voyeurism also occurs when an individual allows others to observe this behavior without the consent of all parties involved.
Sexual Harassment is any unwanted or offensive sexual behavior that has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile living, learning or working environment, or whenever toleration of such conduct or rejection of it is the basis for a personal or academic decision affecting the individual. Sexual harassment may be found in a single episode, as well as in persistent behavior. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual advances; any form of retaliation or threat of retaliation against an individual who rejects such advances; sexual epithets, jokes or comments; comment or injury about an individual’s body or sexual experiences; unwelcome leering, whistling or name calling; sexual gestures; displaying sexually suggestive photos, cartoons or videos.
- Direct or indirect threats or bribes for unwanted sexual activity; repeatedly asking for date, sex or another form of intimacy; touching, patting, punching, stroking, squeezing, tickling or brushing against a person; spreading rumors about a person’s sexuality; or letters, notes, texts, emails or other forms of communication of material of a sexual nature.
- Exposing one’s genitals or other intimate body parts to a particular person or to the general public.
Stalking is a willful and/or malicious pattern of conduct or series of acts directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. Examples of stalking include, but are not limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted in person, by mail, by phone, by electronic communication or social media.
What constitutes discrimination at the University?
Disparate Treatment is less favorable treatment of similarly situated individuals based on their protected class status (i.e. race, color, religion, religious creed, genetics, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, veteran or disability status).
Disparate Impact are policies and practices that are neutral on their face but may have a disparate impact on protected classes.
Discriminatory Harassment is verbal or physical conduct by a member of the faculty, staff or student body based on protected categories listed in the University’s Equal Opportunity Policy that adversely affects a term, benefits or condition of an individual’s education, employment, housing, or participation in a University activity.