Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

Definitions

Complainant
A complainant is an individual(s) who files a formal accusation against another individual(s).

Respondent
A respondent is an individual against whom a formal accusation has been made.

Confidential Reporter
A confidential reporter is an individual with whom a victim can confidentially report and discuss an instance of sexual harassment including sexual violence without information being shared with others. This typically includes individuals who are serving in their role as a mental-health counselor, pastor, social worker, psychologist, health center employees or any other person with a professional license requiring confidentiality.

Non-Confidential Reporter/Responsible Employee
An employee who has the authority to address sexual harassment including sexual violence, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual harassment or other student misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty. Examples include but are not limited to faculty members, advisors, employees in most OSU-CHS offices and anyone in a supervisory role.

Victim Advocate
The OSU-CHS Victim Advocate is an individual who can offer victims information, emotional support, and help finding resources and filling out paperwork. The Victim Advocate can keep all information confidential and does not have to report the incident to anyone on campus.

Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any non-consensual contact of a sexual nature. Sexual misconduct may vary in severity and consists of a range of behavior or attempted behavior including, but not limited to, the following examples of prohibited conduct:

  • Unwelcome sexual touching/exposure
    Touching an unwilling or non-consensual person’s intimate parts (such as genitalia, groin, breast, buttocks, mouth or clothing covering same), touching an unwilling person with one’s own intimate parts, or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts. This also includes indecent exposure and voyeurism.
  • Non-consensual sexual assault
    Unwilling or non-consensual penetration of any bodily opening with an object or body part. This includes, but is not limited to, penetration of a bodily opening without effective consent through the use of coercion.
  • Forced sexual assault
    Unwilling or non-consensual penetration of any bodily opening with any object or body part that is committed either by force, threat, intimidation, or through exploitation of another’s mental or physical condition (such as lack of consciousness, incapacitation due to drugs or alcohol, age, or disability) of which the accused was aware or should have been aware.

Effective Consent consists of all the following characteristics:

  • informed
  • freely and actively given
  • mutually understandable words or action
  • willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity

Furthermore

  • Initiators of sexual activity are responsible for obtaining effective consent.
  • Silence or passivity is not effective consent.
  • The use of intimidation, coercion, threats, force or violence negates any consent obtained.
  • Consent is not considered effective if obtained from an individual who is incapable of giving consent due to any the following:
    • mental, developmental, or physical disability
    • s/he is under the legal age to give consent
    • s/he is incapacitated by alcohol, beer or under the influence of drugs

Individuals who commit acts of sexual misconduct assume responsibility for their behavior and must understand that the use of alcohol or drugs does not reduce accountability for their actions.

The following are examples of sexual misconduct violations:

  • Ignoring an individual’s protest and engaging in sexual activity.
  • Convincing somebody to have sex which likely constitutes intimidation or coercion. If someone is coerced, the yes is not effective consent.
  • Pursuing sexual activity from someone who may not be capable of giving effective consent based on alcohol and/or drug use.  For example, someone who is incapacitated may agree to have sex at the time, but have no memory of the consent. This person may have been functioning in a “blackout” and could not give effective consent.
  • Holding a person down or preventing a person from leaving the room and forcing him or her to engage in sexual activity against his/her will.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical contact or communication of a sexual nature when

  • submission to such conduct or communication is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of educational benefits, employment, academic evaluations or other academic opportunities.
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct or communication by an individual is used as the basis for an employment decision or academic decision affecting such individual.
  • such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent and objectively offensive that it has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation that negatively affects an individual’s academic or employment environment.

Sexual harassment does not include verbal expressions or written materials that are relevant and appropriately related to course subject matter or curriculum, and this policy shall not abridge academic freedom or the university’s educational mission. Sexual harassment can create a hostile environment. Sexual harassment should be reported even if it doesn’t reach the point of a hostile environment. A hostile environment is defined as subjectively and objectively offensive and sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s educational, employment or university environment. 

Sexual harassment can occur off-campus and still have an effect on an individual’s educational, employment or university environment as well as create a hostile environment. A one-time non-consensual contact could also create a hostile environment.

The following are examples of behavior that could be considered sexual harassment:

  • Unwelcome sexual flirtation, advances or propositions of sexual activities
  • Asking about someone else’s personal, social or sexual life or about their sexual fantasies, preferences or history
  • Discussing your own personal sexual fantasies, preferences or history
  • Repeatedly asking for a date from a person who is not interested
  • Whistles, cat calls or insulting sounds
  • Sexually suggestive jokes, innuendoes or turning discussions into sexual topics
  • Sexually offensive or degrading language used to describe an individual or remarks of a sexual nature to describe a person’s body or clothing. Calling a person a “sweetie”, “babe,”  “hottie,” or similar descriptive terms
  • Displaying sexually demeaning or offensive objects and pictures
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or body movements
  • Rating a person’s sexuality
  • Unwelcome touching of a person’s body, including massage

Sexual Violence
Sexual violence consists of physical sexual acts committed against a person’s will or when a person is incapable of giving consent. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including sexual misconduct, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence.

Stalking
Stalking occurs when a person engages 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.

Stalking is defined to mean 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.

This may include repeatedly contacting another person (through any means, such as in person, by phone, e-mail, text messaging, etc.), following another person, or having others contact another person.

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

Stalking is the willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassment of a person in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested. Stalking also means a course of conduct composed of a series of two or more separate acts over a period of time. The behavior must demonstrate a continuity of purpose or unwelcome contact with a person that is initiated or continued without the consent of the individual or in disregard of the expressed desire of the individual that the contact be avoided or discontinued.

Actions that a stalker may take to contact, harass, track or frighten another could include the following repeated events:

  • following
  • unsolicited visits or communication
  • using online social media inappropriately
  • damaging property
  • showing up at places an intended victim frequents
  • sending unsolicited mail, e-mail, texts and pictures
  • creating a website about the intended victim
  • sending unsolicited gifts
  • stealing things that belong to the intended victim
  • calling

Stalking can be committed by a casual acquaintance, a current boyfriend or girlfriend, someone the victim dated in the past, or a stranger.

(This definition is consistent with Violence against Women Act Volume 79 CFR and Oklahoma State statute).

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

  • Length of the relationship
  • Type of relationship
  • 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. Dating violence does not include acts that meet the definition of domestic violence.

(This definition is consistent with Violence against Women Act Volume 79 CFR).

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a crime of violence committed by a

    • current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim
    • person with whom the victim shares a child in common
    • person who is cohabitating with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse
    • person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threat of actions that influence another person.

(This definition consistent with Violence against Women Act Volume 79 CFR).

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