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Definitions of Terms Used to Describe Incidents

Terms defined here include:


Individuals who observe violence or witness the conditions that perpetuate violence. They are not directly involved but have the choice to intervene, speak up, or do something about it.


An Advisor is an individual who accompanies a person, who may provide support but may not speak on behalf of the person or otherwise participate in or contribute to a meeting, grievance proceeding or hearing.


Coercion is the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure. Coercion does not begin when the initiator makes an initial sexual advance. Coercion begins when the initiator continues to pressure another to engage in sexual behavior, when a reasonable person would realize that the other does not want to be engaged in sexual activity.


Consent is permission to engage in communication and/or a specific, mutually agreed upon sexual activity that is given freely, actively, and knowingly, using mutually understandable and unambiguous words or actions, or—in plain language—to agree to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, with each other.

Consent cannot be inferred by silence, passivity, or not resisting.

Consent cannot be implied by a current or previous dating or sexual relationship.

Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

Consent is not indefinite; it is revocable and may be withdrawn at any time, using words or actions such that a reasonable person would understand a lack of continued consent.

Consent cannot be given by person who is:

  • Asleep; 
  • Incapacitated by drugs or alcohol;
  • Unconscious; 
  • Mentally or physically incapacitated; 
  • Under duress, intimidation, threat, coercion, or force; or
  • Under the age of 16. 

It is the responsibility of the person seeking to initiate the sexual activity or conduct to affirmatively obtain consent, not the intended recipient of such conduct to deny such consent.

Confidential Employee

A confidential employee is an employee who, because of their position, may not reveal an individual’s identity or other information without permission, even to the Title IX Coordinator or designee. The following categories of employees are confidential employees: 

  • Licensed sexual assault counselors, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, clergy, and attorneys, and those persons working under the supervision of such individuals, when acting in their professional role providing services to a patient or client;
  • University employees bound by statutory privilege obligations under Massachusetts law; and 
  • University employees providing administrative, operational and/or related support for a confidential employee in the performance of such services.
Counseling staff

An individual who provides confidential mental or physical health services to university students. This includes staff who are understood by students to be acting in that capacity, even if the provision of such services is not their only or standard role. See Section V for relevant guidelines.

Course of Conduct

Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts 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.

Dating Violence

Violence committed by a person:

  1. who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Reporting Person; and
  2. 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 relationship,
    • the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

For the purposes of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence

Felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed:

  1. By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Reporting Person;
  2. By a person with whom the Reporting Person shares a child in common, regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together;
  3. By a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the Reporting Person;
  4. By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Reporting Person under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred;
  5. By a person who is or was related by blood or marriage to the Reporting Person; or
  6. By a person who is or was in a substantive dating or engagement relationship with the Reporting Person, assessed based on:
    • the length of time of the relationship;
    • the type of relationship;
    • the frequency of interaction between the parties; and
    • if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

To take measures to attempt to or succeed in engaging in sexual behavior with another without that person’s consent. Force is committed in four primary ways: physical force; coercion; threat; or intimidation, which is an implied threat.

Hate Crime

A hate- or bias-related crime is not a separate, distinct crime, but is the commission of a criminal offense which was motivated by the offender’s bias. For example, a Responding Person assaults a Reporting Person, which is a crime. If the facts of the case indicate that the Responding Person was motivated to commit the offense because of their bias against the Reporting Person’s race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity, or disability, the assault is then also classified as a hate/bias crime.

Non-consensual Sexual Contact

(For the purposes of this definition): The touching of the private parts of another person for the purposes of sexual gratification, without the consent of the Reporting Person, including instances where the Reporting Person is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse

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 Reporting Person. The definition includes any gender of Reporting Person or Responding Person, and includes instances in which the Reporting Person is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of youth. 

Massachusetts law indicates that such acts are considered rape in any of these circumstances: 

  • when a person is compelled to submit by force against their will, 
  • compelled to submit by threat of bodily injury and if either such penetration results in or is committed with acts resulting in serious bodily injury, or 
  • is committed by a joint enterprise, or 
  • is committed during the commission or attempted commission of certain other crimes.
Reasonable Person

Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Reporting Person. The conduct, acts or threats described above shall include, but not be limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Reporting Person

The Reporting Person is the person who reports a concern.

Responding Person

The Responding Person is the person about whom a concern is reported.

Responsible Reporting Employees

All employees, both full and part time, faculty and staff, are Responsible Reporting Employees, with the exception of Confidential Employees.


Intentional action taken by an accused individual or allied third party, apart from legitimate non-discriminatory purposes, that harms an individual as reprisal for filing or participating in a civil rights report or complaint proceeding.

Sexual Assault

  • Non-consensual sexual intercourse
  • Non-consensual sexual contact
  • Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual, unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another; for their own advantage or benefit; or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited; and that behavior does not otherwise constitute non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse or sexual harassment. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to: prostitution; videotaping; going beyond the boundaries of consent; voyeurism; transmission of HIV or STD; inducing incapacitation for the purpose of having sex with the incapacitated person (this type of sexual exploitation occurs regardless of whether sexual activity actually takes place).

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is:

  • unwelcome or without consent,
  • sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it,
  • has the effect of unreasonably interfering with, denying or limiting someone’s work performance or ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program and/or activities, regardless of whether it occurs on or off campus, and is
  • based on the creation of a hostile environment, or
  • based or retaliation, or
  • based on power differentials (quid pro quo). Conduct constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment when:
    1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic performance
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual.

The unwelcome behavior must be considered an unreasonable interference both to a reasonable person and to the person impacted.

The term sexual harassment is used in this context to indicate the full scope of prohibited sexual behaviors including sexual violence. Examples of prohibited sexual behaviors include but are not limited to the following:

  • sexual assault
  • intimate partner or dating violence; domestic violence
  • stalking
  • or gender-based bullying
  • to purposefully view or record (by photograph, audio or video) nudity or sex without consent
  • to attempt to transmit a sexually transmitted infection
  • to attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship
  • to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwelcome sexual attention
  • to punish a refusal to comply with a sexual based request
  • to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances.

Many other behaviors may constitute prohibited sexual harassment when they are sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive, including but not limited to:

  • sexual emails
  • sexual “kidding” or jokes
  • sexual comments, images, or questions
  • physical contact such as patting, pinching, or purposely rubbing up against another’s body.
Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct includes: 

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Some other types of sexual harassment may also be forms of sexual violence.


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

  • fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
  • suffer substantial emotional distress.
Substantial Emotional Distress

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