Important Concepts & Definitions
As per the Title IX Grievance Policy, covered sexual harassment includes any conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
- An employee conditioning educational benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., quid pro quo);
- Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the educational institution’s education program or activity;
Sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), which includes any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent;
Dating violence (as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Clery Act), which includes any violence committed by a person: (A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) The length of the relationship; (ii) The type of relationship; (iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Domestic violence (as defined in the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act), which includes any 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 New Jersey’s domestic or family violence laws 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 New Jersey.
Stalking (as defined in the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act), meaning engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to-- (A) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.
Any non-consensual sexual activity is prohibited. Consensual sexual activity requires clear and unambiguous communication and mutual agreement for the act in which the participants are involved.
Consent will be assessed objectively from the standpoint of a reasonable person.
In understanding the meaning of consent, the following principles apply:
- A sexual interaction is considered consensual when individuals willingly and knowingly engage in the interaction.
- Someone who is incapacitated cannot consent. A person is incapacitated when the person cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because the person lacks the ability to understand his or her decision. A person can become incapacitated as a result of, among other things, disability, physical or mental impairment, involuntary physical constraint, sleep, unconsciousness, or consumption of alcohol or other drugs.
- According to New Jersey law, an individual who is physically or mentally impaired may not be able to give consent to sexual activity. Physical or mental impairment may include: visual, speech or hearing impairment, cognitive impairment; being unconscious or asleep; or being under the influence of alcohol or other substance(s) to the point of being unable to make a decision.
- Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Previous relationships or previous consent for sexual activity is not consent to sexual activity on a different occasion. (For example, consent to certain acts at one point in an evening does not mean consent to the same acts later in the same evening.)
- Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.
- Silence or the absence of resistance is not the same as consent.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
- The use of alcohol or drugs does not justify or excuse behavior that violates university policy and never makes someone at fault for being the victim of a violation.
Video: Consent Made Easy
In New Jersey, a person must be 16 years of age to legally consent to sexual activity. A person cannot give consent to sexual activity with someone who has "the duty to care" for them unless they are over the age of 18. Individuals that fall into "the duty to care" category would include parents or guardians, and those in any type of formal supervisory role. If individuals are between the ages of 13 and 15 they can legally consent to sexual activity with a partner who is not more than 4 years older.
Coercion and Force
Consent cannot be procured by the use of physical force, compulsion, threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion. Sexual activity accompanied by coercion or force is not consensual.
- Coercion refers to unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. When someone makes it clear that he or she does not want to engage in sexual activity or does not want to go beyond a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be considered coercive. The use of coercion can involve the use of pressure, manipulation, substances, and/or force. Ignoring objections of another person is a form of coercion.
- Force refers to the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to engage in sexual contact or intercourse. Force can also include threats, intimidation (implied threats), or coercion used to overcome resistance.