Important Definitions

In accordance with the University's Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy, the following definitions are applicable to Title IX.

Consent – a voluntary, mutually understandable agreement that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in each instance of sexual activity. Past consent does not imply future consent. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Any expression of an unwillingness to engage in any instance of sexual activity establishes a presumptive lack of consent.

Consent is not effective if it results from: (a) the use of physical force, (b) a threat of physical force, (c) intimidation, (d) coercion, (e) incapacitation or (f) any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual activity.

A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be a voluntary, mutually understandable agreement that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in each instance of sexual activity.

Domestic (Family) Violence – 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 State of Texas, 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 State of Texas.

Incapacitation – A state of being that prevents an individual from having the capacity to give consent. For example, incapacitation could result from the use of drugs or alcohol, a person being asleep or unconscious, or because of an intellectual or other disability.

Intimidation – Unlawfully placing another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack.

Other Inappropriate Sexual Conduct – Includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed towards another individual that does not rise to the level of sexual harassment but is unprofessional, inappropriate for the workplace or classroom and is not protected speech. It also includes consensual sexual conduct that is unprofessional and inappropriate for the workplace or classroom.

Preponderance of the Evidence – The greater weight of the credible evidence. Preponderance of the evidence is the standard for determining allegations of sexual misconduct under this Policy. This standard is satisfied if the action is deemed more likely to have occurred than not.

Responsible Employee – A University employee who has the duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate designee, or an employee whom an individual could reasonably believe has this duty. Responsible employees include all administrators, faculty, supervisory staff, resident life directors and advisors, and graduate teaching assistants, except any employee with confidentiality obligations as defined in Section 3.3.5. Incidents of sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) and other inappropriate sexual conduct may also be reported to Responsible Employees.

Retaliation – Any adverse action threatened or taken against someone because the individual has filed, supported, provided information in connection with a complaint of sexual misconduct or engaged in other legally protected activities. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, threats or harassment against any complainant, witness or third party.

Assault – An offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape:

     a. 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.

     b. Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

     c. Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

     d. Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual Exploitation – Occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own benefit, or to benefit anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, engaging in voyeurism; forwarding of pornographic or other sexually inappropriate material by email, text, or other channels to non-consenting students/groups; and any activity that goes beyond the boundaries of consent, such as recording of sexual activity, letting others watch consensual sex, or knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) to another.

Sexual Harassment – Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature including but not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's student status, employment, or participation in University activities; such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s education, employment, or participation in University activities, or creates an objectively hostile environment; or such conduct is intentionally directed towards a specific individual and has the effect of unreasonably interfering with that individual’s education, employment, or participation in University activities, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that includes:

     a. Sexual violence, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence as defined herein.

     b. Physical conduct, depending on the totality of the circumstances present, including frequency and severity, including but not limited to:

           i. unwelcome intentional touching; or

           ii. deliberate physical interference with or restriction of movement.

     c. Verbal conduct not necessary to an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea, including oral, written, or symbolic expression, including but not limited to:

           i.  explicit or implicit propositions to engage in sexual activity;

           ii. gratuitous comments, jokes, questions, anecdotes or remarks of a sexual nature about clothing or bodies;

          iii. gratuitous remarks about sexual activities or speculation about sexual experiences;

           iv. persistent, unwanted sexual or romantic attention;

           v. subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors;

           vi. exposure to sexually suggestive visual displays such as photographs, graffiti, posters, calendars or other materials; or

           vii. deliberate, repeated humiliation or intimidation based upon sex.

Sexual Misconduct – A broad term encompassing a range of non-consensual sexual activity or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. The term includes, but is not limited to, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual intimidation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Sexual misconduct can be committed by men or women, strangers or acquaintances, and can occur between or among people of the same or opposite sex.

Sexual Violence – Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. The term includes, but is not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual coercion, sexual abuse, indecency with a child, and/or aggravated sexual assault.

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 this definition:

     a. 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 action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s  property.

     b. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.

     c. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.