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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.


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 convinced.


Consent is acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another; acquiescence.

Consent as it relates to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence dating violence, stalking, or any form of sexual activity: 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 contact or conduct to affirmatively deny such consent. An affirmative, informed decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity must be given by clear actions or words. It is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. Relying solely upon nonverbal communication can lead to miscommunication. It is important not to make assumptions; if confusion or ambiguity on the issue of consent arises anytime during the sexual interaction, it is essential that each participant stops and clarifies, verbally, willingness to continue.

Students should understand that consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone.

A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.

When substance use is involved, a person is not considered able to give consent when the degree of intoxication is such that the victim’s judgment is so impaired that he or she would not be capable of making rational decisions about his or her welfare, and as such the person would not be able to give consent to engage in sexual activity.

Consent is not present when an individual is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Consent is not indefinite and may be withdrawn at any time. Once consent is withdrawn, all sexual activity must cease unless and until additional effective consent is given.

Consent is not present from a person who is unconscious or in and out of consciousness.

Consent is not present from a person who is underage.

Consent is not present if force is used.

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.

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 victim; 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 victim;
  2. By a person with whom the victim 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 victim;
  4. By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim 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 victim; or
  6. By a person who is or was in a substantive dating or engagement relationship with the victim, 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.


(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 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.

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 subject assaults a victim, which is a crime. If the facts of the case indicate that the offender was motivated to commit the offense because of his/her bias against the victim’s race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity, or disability, the assault is then also classified as a hate/bias crime.


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. The definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim 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 his/her 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.

Responsible reporting employees for potential violations of the guidelines

All supervisors including administrators, Police Department employees, Student Affairs including Residence Life employees, and all faculty.

Any employee who has the authority to take action to redress sexual violence; who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate school designee; or whom a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

Whether or not a university employee or student is a responsible reporting employee, all members of the university community are encouraged to practice bystander awareness, that is, to take action to end and report possible Title IX violations and possible violations of other Equal Opportunity Guidelines.


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 is any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal); however slight; with any object or body part; by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman; without consent.
  • Non-consensual sexual contact is any sexual touching; however slight; with any object or body part; by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman; without consent.
  • Sexual exploitation occurs when a student takes non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another; for his/her 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 Violence

For the purposes of this document, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Some other types of sexual harassment may also be forms of sexual violence.


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.
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.

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.

Reasonable Person

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