HCAP

4.2.3 Important Definitions for Understanding Title IX Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence

4.2.3.1 "Coercion" or “Coerced” means:

  • Compelling another person to do something through:
      • Emotional or physical pressure or
      • Threats or other forms of intimidation.

Real or perceived power differentials between individuals also may create an atmosphere of Coercion that can significantly impair a person's ability to Consent.

4.2.3.2 "Consent" means:

  • Clear, knowing and voluntary words or actions that demonstrate agreement for specific sexual activity. Consent must be informed and freely given.

Consent is invalidated when it is forced, Coerced, or when a person is physically and/or mentally incapable of giving Consent. For example, a person who is substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol may not be able to give Consent. Some signs of substantial impairment may include, but are not limited to, loss of balance/inability to walk without stumbling, slurred speech, inability to focus their vision, vomiting, erratic or extreme behavior, knowledge of person's significant use of drugs or alcohol, or passing out.

Consent is an active, on-going process. It can be withdrawn at any time, and Consent for one sexual act does not imply Consent for another subsequent sexual act. Consent, a lack of Consent or a withdrawal of Consent can be expressed by words, actions, or both. For example, verbal silence or the absence of physical resistance does not automatically mean someone has consented to a sexual activity; nor is physical resistance required for a person to verbally communicate a lack of Consent or to withdraw Consent.

In reviewing an allegation of sexual misconduct, Consent is a critical factor in determining whether there is a violation of this policy. Although all parties must give their Consent to any sexual act and it is the best practice for both partners to be responsible for confirming that they have obtained the other's Consent; it is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to obtain Consent from the other.

Title IX Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence Hearing Panels (Sections 4.7.1.4.3 and 5.9.7. Harassment Panel Hearing Procedures) may examine the issue of Consent from a variety of perspectives, including whether the Respondent believed he or she had obtained Consent and whether a reasonable person would have believed that he or she had obtained Consent. Although neither perspective is outcome- determinative for every case, individuals are strongly advised to be mindful of and conduct themselves according to the reasonable person standard and to avoid any ambiguity in obtaining and giving Consent. Respondent's use of alcohol or other drugs will not function to excuse any behavior that violates this policy.