In accordance with the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy, the following definitions are applicable to Title IX:
Coercion – The use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against an individual’s will. Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including psychological or emotional pressure, physical or emotional threats, intimidation, manipulation, or blackmail that causes the person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they eliminate a reasonable person’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Examples of coercion include but are not limited to threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity; and threatening to expose someone’s prior sexual activity to another person.
Complainant – The individual who is alleged to be the victim of any prohibited conduct under this Policy.
Confidential Employees – Confidential Employees include counselors in Counseling and Psychological Services, a health care provider in Health Services, or clergypersons. Additionally, employees who receive information regarding an incident of sexual misconduct under circumstances that render the employee’s communications confidential or privileged under other law (such as attorneys) are also considered “Confidential Employees.”
Note: Under state law, Confidential Employees who receive information regarding incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking committed by or against a student or an employee of the University, are required to report the type of incident to the Title IX Coordinator (or Deputy Coordinators). Confidential Employees may not include any information that would violate a student’s expectation of privacy. The Confidential Employee’s duty to report an incident under any other law also applies.
Consent – A voluntary, mutually understandable agreement that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in each instance of sexual activity. Consent to one act does not imply consent to another. 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 Consent can be withdrawn at any time.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.
The definition of consent for the crime of sexual assault in Texas can be found in Section 22.011(b) of the Texas Penal Code.
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. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration of the following factors:
- The length of the relationship;
- The type of relationship; and
- The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. It does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
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 – Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. An individual may be incapacitated if they are unaware at the time of the incident of where they are, how they got there, or why or how they became engaged in a sexual interaction.
When alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. When drug use is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond being under the influence or impaired by use of the drug. Alcohol and other drugs impact each individual differently, and determining whether an individual is incapacitated requires an individualized determination.
After establishing that a person is in fact incapacitated, the University asks two questions:
- Did the person initiating sexual activity know that the other party was incapacitated? and if not,
- Should a sober, reasonable person in the same situation have known that the other party was incapacitated?
If the answer to either of these questions is “YES,” consent was absent and the conduct is likely a violation of this Policy.
A Respondent will be found to have violated policy only if the Respondent knew or should have known that the person was incapacitated.
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 – Conduct on the basis of sex that does not meet the definition of “sexual harassment” under this Policy, but is
- If verbal conduct (including through electronic means), unwanted statements of a sexual nature intentionally stated to a person or group of people, that are objectively offensive to a reasonable person and also so severe or pervasive that they created a Hostile Environment, as defined in this Policy. The type of verbal conduct (if all other elements are met) may include:
- Unwelcome sexual advances (including explicit or implicit proposition(s) of sexual contact or activity);
- Requests for sexual favors (including overt or subtle pressure);
- Gratuitous comments about an individual’s sexual activities or speculation about an individual’s sexual experiences;
- Gratuitous comments, jokes, questions, anecdotes or remarks of a sexual nature about clothing or bodies;
- Persistent, unwanted sexual or romantic attention;
- Exposure to sexually suggestive visual displays such as photographs, graffiti, posters, calendars or other materials; or
- Deliberate, repeated humiliation or intimidation.
- If physical conduct, either:
- Sexual exploitation, as defined in this Policy;
- Unwelcome intentional touching of a sexual nature;
- Deliberate physical interference with or restriction of movement; or
- Sexual violence as defined in this Policy.
Preponderance of the Evidence – The greater weight of the credible evidence. Preponderance of the evidence is the standard for determining allegations of prohibited conduct 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 and information reasonably believed to be Sexual Misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinators. All employees are Responsible Employees except Confidential Employees. Responsible Employees include all administrators, faculty, staff, resident life directors and advisors, and graduate teaching assistants. Responsible Employees must report all known information concerning the incident to the Title IX Office, and must include whether a Complainant has expressed a desire for confidentiality in reporting the incident.
Retaliation – Any adverse action (including, but is not limited to, intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, or discrimination) taken against someone because the individual has made a report or filed a Formal Complaint; or who has supported or provided information in connection with a report or a Formal Complaint; participated or refused to participate in a Grievance Process under this Policy; or engaged in other legally protected activities.
Sexual Assault – An offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape:
- 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.
- 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.
- Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
- Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
Sexual Exploitation – Conduct where an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their 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; the intentional removal of a condom or other contraceptive barrier during sexual activity without the consent of a sexual partner; 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 – Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
- Quid pro quo: An employee of the institution conditioning the provision of an 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 this Policy.
Subsections (a) and (c) in this definition are not evaluated for severity, pervasiveness, offensiveness, or denial of equal educational access, because such conduct is sufficiently serious to deprive a person of equal access. Therefore, any instance of quid pro quo sexual harassment and any instance of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking are considered sexual harassment under this Policy.
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—
- 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.
- Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
- Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.