Definitions

For a complete list of definitions, please see the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy.

Consent: Voluntary, clear, continuous, mutually understandable permission, given by words or actions, regarding one’s willingness to engage in sexual activity. A sexual interaction is considered consensual when individuals willingly and knowingly engage in the interaction.

Dating violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

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

Domestic violence: A felony or misdemeanor crime 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.

Incapacitation: The inability to provide consent due to the use of drugs or alcohol, when a person is asleep or unconscious, or because of an intellectual or other disability that prevents an individual from having the capacity to give consent.

Retaliation: No member of the University community may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy. Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, including charges against an individual for Student Code of Conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination, or a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX constitutes retaliation. Examples of conduct which may be retaliation include, but are not limited to:

  • Threats of harm to an individual or the individual’s property;
  • Forcing or pressuring an individual to take time off from school or work;
  • Pressuring an individual to refrain from talking to the media;
  • Removing an individual from sports teams or other extracurricular activities for reporting Title IX sexual harassment;
  • Unreasonably failing to accommodate an individual’s housing or academic needs; or
  • Terminating, demoting, reassigning or denying benefits to an employee.

Sex discrimination: Giving preferential treatment to one gender to the disadvantage of the other because of their gender. It may occur also when policies or practices are facially neutral, but have a disproportionately adverse impact on a particular gender when applied. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.

Sexual assault: An offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: 

  • Sex Offenses, Forcible means any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.
    • Forcible Rape (Except Statutory Rape) means the carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her youth or because of his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical in capacity. 
    • Forcible Sodomy  means oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her youth or because of his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical in capacity.
    • Sexual Assault With an Object means to use an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her youth or because of his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical in capacity.
    • Forcible Fondling means the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her youth or because of his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical in capacity.
  • Sex Offenses, Non-forcible (Except Prostitution Offenses) means unlawful, non-forcible sexual intercourse:
    • Incest means non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
    • Statutory Rape means non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual harassment: A form of conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: 

  • Quid Pro Quo: An employee conditioning the provision of aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual's participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
  • 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; or
  • Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in SMU's Title IX Sexual Harassment policy. 

Sexual harassment under Title IX must occur in an education program or activity of the University against a person in the United States.

Sexual misconduct: Used broadly and includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  • Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or
  • Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of the definition of stalking:

  • "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 actions, 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. 

 

Examples of Title IX Sexual Harassment

If unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex 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, the following are examples of Title IX sexual harassment that is prohibited by this policy: 

  • Physical sexual acts perpetrated:
    1. against a person’s will; or
    2. where a person is incapable of giving consent due to that person’s use of drugs or alcohol or due to an intellectual or other disability;
  • Direct or implied statements, threats or demands for sexual favors, sexual advances, accompanied by implied or actual promises of preferential treatment for submission to such demands; or implied or actual threats that failure to submit to such demands may result in adverse treatment concerning the person’s admission, enrollment, employment, work status, promotion, grades or recommendation;
  • Persistent unwelcome flirtation, requests for dates, repeated and unwanted staring, advances or propositions of a sexual nature;
  • Gratuitous displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, including images displayed, transferred, forwarded or shared via the internet, text messaging or other electronic means;
  • A pattern of conduct unrelated to an academic course or the requirements of the workplace intended to cause discomfort or humiliation or both that includes one or more of the following:
    1. comments of a sexual nature;
    2. sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, anecdotes or gestures;
    3. a pattern of conduct that would cause discomfort or humiliation, or both, to a reasonable person to whom the conduct is directed and that includes one or more of the following:
    • unnecessary touching, such as patting, pinching, hugging or repeated brushing against a person’s body;
    • remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s clothing or body; or
    • remarks about sexual activity or speculations about previous sexual experience.
  • Treating individuals adversely because they do not conform to stereotypical norms of feminine or masculine gender behavior.
  • Acts of Title IX sexual harassment may take many different forms. Examples include the following:
    1. direct threats and other verbal statements;
    2. email or other electronic messages;
    3. physical contact;
    4. jokes;
    5. gestures; and
    6. pictures or other visuals.

Harassment that violates SMU policy goes beyond the mere expression of views or thoughts (spoken or written) that an individual may find offensive. The conduct must be sufficiently severe or pervasive as to limit unlawfully an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the activities of SMU. Further, one must evaluate such conduct from the perspective of a reasonable person in the alleged victim’s position, taking into account the totality of the circumstances involved in a particular matter.