Definitions


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Definitions

Assists or Abets:  An individual assists or abets prohibited conduct when the individual: (1) helps any other person to engage in prohibited conduct; and (2) intends the prohibited conduct to occur or knows that their actions are significantly likely to help the other person to engage in prohibited conduct.

Complainant:  An individual is a “complainant” when the University learns that the individual may have experienced prohibited conduct. Complainants are assisted under this policy even if they have not reported prohibited conduct to the University or pursued a prohibited conduct investigation under this policy.

Respondent:  An individual is a “respondent” when the University learns that the individual is alleged to have engaged in conduct that could constitute prohibited conduct under this policy.

Prohibited Conduct:  Prohibited conduct includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, relationship violence, and related retaliation.

  1. Sexual assault is: (1) actual or attempted sexual contact without affirmative consent; or (2) a threat to engage in contact that would be, if the threat were carried out, sexual contact without affirmative consent.
    1. Sexual contact is intentional sexual touching with an object or body part. Depending on the context, it may include, but is not limited to: (a) intentionally touching the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals of another individual; (b) intentionally touching another individual with any of these body parts; and (c) making an individual touch another individual or themselves with, or on, any of these body parts. Sexual contact can occur whether or not an individual’s body parts are covered by clothing.
    2. Affirmative consent is freely and affirmatively communicated words or actions given by an informed individual that a sober reasonable person under the circumstances would believe communicate a willingness to participate in the sexual contact. This definition of consent does not vary based upon an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

      The following factors will be considered when determining whether affirmative consent was given.

      • Each individual who wishes to engage in sexual contact is responsible for obtaining consent from the other individual or individuals who intend to be involved in the sexual contact.
      • A lack of protest, the absence of resistance, and silence do not by themselves indicate consent.
      • The existence of a present or past sexual, dating, or other romantic relationship between the individuals involved does not by itself imply consent to sexual contact.
      • Consent must be present throughout the sexual contact and may be given and withdrawn at any time.
      • When consent is withdrawn, all sexual contact must stop. Where there is confusion about the state of consent, sexual contact must stop until the individuals have verified the affirmative consent of all individuals involved.
      • Consent to one form of sexual contact does not by itself constitute consent to another form of sexual contact.
      Consent is not obtained where:
      • An individual is compelled to engage in unwanted sexual contact through the use of coercion. Coercion may consist of physical force, intimidation, threats, or severe or persistent pressure that would reasonably cause an individual to fear significant consequences if they refuse to engage in sexual contact.
      • An individual involved in sexual contact is incapacitated due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, and a reasonable person would know of this incapacitation. Incapacitation due to the influence of drugs or alcohol is a state beyond mere intoxication or impaired judgment. Some indicators of incapacitation due to the influence of drugs or alcohol may include:
        • A lack of control over one’s physical movement (for example, an inability to walk or stand without stumbling or assistance).
        • An inability to effectively communicate (for example, where one’s speech is heavily slurred, incomprehensible, or nonsensical).
        • A lack of awareness of one’s circumstances or surroundings (for example, a lack of awareness of where one is, how one got there, who one is with, and how or why one became engaged in sexual contact).
        If there is any doubt as to whether another individual is incapacitated, one should assume that the individual does not have the capacity to give consent.
      • An individual involved in sexual contact is unable to communicate or understand the nature or extent of the sexual situation because of a physical or mental condition.
      • An individual involved in sexual contact is asleep, unconscious or involuntarily physically restrained.
      • An individual involved in sexual contact is not of legal age to give consent pursuant to Minnesota state law.
  2. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature under either of the following conditions:
    • When it is stated or implied that an individual needs to submit to, or participate in, conduct of a sexual nature in order to maintain their employment or educational standing or advance in their employment or education (quid pro quo sexual harassment).
    • When the conduct: (1) is severe, persistent, or pervasive; and (2) unreasonably interferes with an individual's employment or educational performance or creates a work or educational environment that the individual finds, and a reasonable person would find, to be intimidating, hostile, or offensive (hostile environment sexual harassment).

    In determining whether conduct is unwelcome, consideration is given both to the complainant’s subjective experience and to whether a reasonable person would have perceived the complainant as welcoming the conduct. A complainant’s acquiescence to the conduct, or failure to complain about the conduct, is not by itself determinative of whether the conduct was welcome. Under this policy, an individual who is reasonably perceived to hold power over another individual (such as a supervisor over a supervisee or faculty member over a student) is expected to understand that the subordinate individual may submit to or participate in sexual conduct because the subordinate individual fears potential negative repercussions if they refuse, and not because they welcome the conduct.

    Sexual harassment may include conduct that is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, and/or physical. Individuals of all genders can be victims of sexual harassment, and the complainant and respondent can be of the same or different genders. The following conduct may, if sufficiently egregious, constitute sexual harassment:

    • Unwelcome sexual advances, including touching or sexual comments.
    • Implicit or explicit requests for sexual favors in exchange for employment or academic benefits.
    • Distributing ratings of individuals’ attractiveness or sexual activity or performance.
    • A pattern of sexually suggestive comments, jokes, or gestures.
    • Sexual exploitation: Taking sexual advantage of a person, which may include, but is not limited to, unwelcome: (1) exposure of one’s genitals to another person; (2) distribution of sexual information, images, or recordings of or about another person; (3) observation or recording of sexual activity or nudity where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy; and (4) knowingly transmitting sexual infections or diseases without the other person’s knowledge.

    A hostile environment may be created by persistent or pervasive unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or by a severe single or isolated incident.

  3. Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific individual that is unwelcome and that would cause a reasonable person to: (1) feel fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (2) experience substantial emotional distress.

    A course of conduct is multiple acts including, but not limited to, acts in which an individual directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another individual, or interferes with another individual’s property. In determining whether an individual has engaged in a course of conduct, consideration is given to the number of acts, their level of severity, and the time period in which they occur.

    Stalking includes “cyber-stalking,” in which an individual uses electronic media, such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other methods or forms of contact to engage in stalking.

    In determining whether conduct is unwelcome, consideration is given both to the complainant’s subjective experience and to whether a reasonable person would have perceived the complainant as welcoming the conduct. A complainant’s acquiescence to the conduct, or failure to complain about the conduct, is not by itself determinative of whether the conduct was welcome. Under this policy, an individual who is reasonably perceived to hold power over another individual (such as a supervisor over a supervisee or faculty member over a student) is expected to understand that the subordinate individual may submit to or participate in sexual conduct because the subordinate individual fears potential negative repercussions if they refuse, and not because they welcome the conduct.

  4. Relationship violence is actual, attempted or threatened violence by an individual who is, or has been, in a spousal, sexual, or romantic relationship with the individual receiving the actual, attempted, or threatened violence.

    The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.

  5. Retaliation means taking an adverse action against an individual because of the individual’s good faith participation in:
    1. reporting suspected or alleged prohibited conduct;
    2. expressing opposition to suspected or alleged prohibited conduct;
    3. participating in an investigation related to a prohibited conduct allegation; or
    4. accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution (OCR) to resolve a conflict related to prohibited conduct.
    To demonstrate that retaliation has occurred, an individual must show that a causal relationship exists between the individual’s actions in (i) through (iv) above and the adverse action.

    Adverse actions are actions that might deter a reasonable person from engaging in reporting suspected or alleged prohibited conduct, expressing opposition to suspected or alleged prohibited conduct, participating in an investigation related to a prohibited conduct allegation, or accessing the Office for Conflict Resolution. Examples of adverse action include, but are not limited to: impeding the individual’s academic advancement; departing from any customary academic or employment practice regarding the individual; firing, refusing to hire, or refusing to promote the individual; transferring or assigning the individual to a lesser position in terms of wages, hours, job classification, job security, employment or academic status; and threatening or marginalizing an individual. In some situations, retaliatory conduct may also include inappropriate disclosure of the identity of the individual who has made a complaint protected by this policy.

    Good faith participation means (1) reporting or expressing opposition to prohibited conduct based on a reasonable belief that prohibited conduct has occurred, or (2) honestly participating in an investigation of prohibited conduct or accessing conflict resolution services.

    For more information on retaliation, see FAQ: Retaliation.

University Employees:  University employees include the following individuals:

  1. all individuals defined as employees by Board of Regents Policy: Employee Group Definitions, including:
    1. faculty
    2. academic professionals
    3. academic administrators
    4. professionals in training (including postdoctoral associates)
    5. civil service staff
    6. union-represented staff
    7. graduate assistants
    8. student employees
  2. fellows;
  3. temporary employees; and
  4. third parties serving in instructional roles at the University.

University Property:  University property includes any building or property that is owned or controlled by the University and is used by the University in direct support of, or in a manner related to, the University’s educational purposes.

The information on this page is a subsection of the University of Minnesota's Administrative Policy for Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence.  It has been selected for this webpage based on it's relevance to students in the student conduct process.  To view this policy in its entirety, please visit the policy library.