Goshen College recognizes that everyone’s experience with sexual harassment and violence is unique and may not fit into a specific legal or policy definition. The College provides the following definitions of terms used to describe sex-based crimes covered by this policy and recognizes that the following definitions may not fit your situation.
These definitions are intended to help you consider your options for addressing and remedying your situation through the College’s Title IX Office, through other College grievance processes, or in a legal process. See also Goshen College Title IX Policy on Sexual Harassment and Assault (2020).
When filing a report, you do not need to worry about definitions and categories, although the online reporting form provides options for you to consider and select as you describe what has happened. The Title IX Deputy Coordinator will meet with you to better understand your situation and help you consider the options you may have for addressing and remedying your situation in a way that is most helpful to you.
The behaviors listed below are serious violations of the College’s Community Standards and are detrimental to both relationships and to individual self-esteem. All members of the College community, students, employees, and guests are expected “to support an environment of mutual respect and accountability, to care for the personal dignity of others and to have integrity in their conduct and communication.; these also violate the caring nature of our community” (Goshen College Community Standards). See also the examples provided of bias-related discrimination and harassment, which include gender-based harassment and other forms of bias.
Given the nature of this type of conduct and the serious effects such conduct can have, Goshen College treats violations of this policy seriously and will work promptly and equitably to address and remedy situations involving gender and sexual harassment and work to prevent them from happening again.
Under the 2020 Title IX regulations, Sexual Harassment is used as an umbrella category for offenses of sexual harassment, quip pro quo harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, as defined below. Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved. This policy applies to alleged Sexual Harassment in any medium. Sexual Harassment may manifest in many evolving forms including, but not limited to: physical, verbal, and visual, whether in person or online in any format.
The College has adopted the following definition of Sexual Harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community, which consists not only of employer and employees, but of students as well.
Advisor is the term used for a person chosen by a party or appointed by the institution to accompany the party to meetings related to the resolution process, to advise the party on that process, and to conduct cross-examination for the party at the hearing, if any.
Affirmative consent is verbal agreement given by individuals before and during sexual activity that must be informed, voluntary, mutual, and can be withdrawn at any time. In relationships of every level of intimacy, consent should be a process of communicating the desires and needs of each person. See also Consent.
Amnesty is a term used when students (including Complainants, Respondents, and witnesses ) in reports of sexual harassment and violence are not investigated or disciplined for alcohol use or other minor policy violations related to the circumstances of the reported incident. Amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse of another or illicit drug distribution. The College also maintains a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need and recognizes the state of Indiana’s Lifeline Law that provides immunity for some alcohol offenses while seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency.
Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on factors such as the type and/or extent of the pressure used to obtain consent. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
Complainant is an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment as defined in this policy, or who experiences retaliation for engaging in a protected activity. A person may be a Complainant even if that individual makes a report or participates in the review of that report by the College, and regardless of whether that person is a member of the College Community.
Confidential is a term used in the context of laws that protect certain relationships, including those who provide services related to medical and clinical care, mental health providers, counselors, and ordained clergy. The law creates a privilege between certain health care providers, mental health care providers, attorneys, clergy, spouses, and others, with their patients, clients, parishioners, and spouses. The College has also designated individuals who have the ability to have privileged communications as Confidential Resources. When information is shared by a Complainant with a Confidential Resource, the Confidential Resource cannot reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. Whether by professional definition or College designation, these individuals may not disclose information about the reported incident to others without the express permission (usually written) of the individual who shared the information. In cases where a threat of harm to the individual or the campus community, or in cases involving a minor, confidential resources must report the information to the appropriate authorities and when appropriate to let the Complainant know such a report must be shared and why. Confidential resources can connect individuals to many resources without sharing the specific nature of the report. Confidential resources may also share non-identifiable information statistical tracking purposes as required by the federal Clery Act. Other information may be shared as required by law.
Confidential Resource: An employee whom the College has granted the privilege of confidentiality to provide advice and direct individuals to support and resources without the requirement of Responsible Employees report incidents of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
Consent is an informed, voluntary, and mutual agreement between individuals to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity. Consent cannot be given by an individual who one knows to be – or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – substantially impaired (e.g., by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness, etc.) or by an individual who is under the age of consent in the state of Indiana (age 16).
- Substantial impairment is a state when an individual cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing Consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of their sexual interaction).
- This also covers individuals whose substantial impairment results from other physical or mental conditions including mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the consumption of alcohol or other
- Being impaired by alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense for any behavior that violates this policy.
Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has clearly consented before engaging in the activity and to ensure ongoing consent.
- Consent is never implied, assumed, coerced, or owed. Coercion, force, or threat of either invalidates consent.
- Silence or absence of resistance does not imply consent.
- Consent may be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity.
- Past consent, regardless of when given or in what medium (verbal, visual, social media, written) does not imply future consent.
- Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.
- Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply Consent to any other forms of sexual
For the terms of this policy, the existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.
Dating violence means a form of sexual violence committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the Complainant. Whether there was such a relationship is gauged by length, type, and frequency of interaction. Dating violence can include physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse and affects the victims’ independence, safety, security, and well-being. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the Complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the 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 covered under the definition of domestic violence. This definition aligns with federal definitions of “dating violence” in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10).
Domestic violence includes sexual violence committed by the current or former spouse, a current or former cohabitant with whom the Complainant had an intimate relationship, a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common. Domestic violence is defined in Indiana Code as conduct that is an element of an offense under IC 35-42 (criminal offenses against the person) or a threat to commit an act described in IC 35-42 as occurring from a person against a person who: (1) is or was a spouse of; (2) is or was living as if a spouse of; (3) has a child in common with; (4) is a minor subject to the control of; the other person regardless of whether the act or threat has been reported to a law enforcement agency, or results in a criminal prosecution. To categorize as Domestic Violence, the relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant must be more than just two people living together as roommates. The people cohabitating must be current or former spouses or have an intimate relationship. This definition aligns with federal definitions of “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8).
Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access to another individual. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent. Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent. See also Consent.
Forcible Fondling refers to touching of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, groin, breasts), for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Formal Complaint refers to the document drafted from a report of sexual harassment or assault by the Complainant or the College. In an initial meeting with the Complainant, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator will review the report information to identify the allegation and review resolution options. A formal complaint includes an allegation that a Respondent has violated the Title IX sexual harassment and assault policy and a request that the College address the allegation(s) through an informal resolution process or a formal grievance process as defined by Title IX regulations (34 CFR Part 106.45). A report becomes a final complaint when the document is signed by the Complainant and Title IX Deputy Coordinator. Complainants do not need to file a formal complaint to access resources or accommodations.
Formal Grievance Process is a method of formal resolution designated by the College to address conduct that falls within the policies included below, and which complies with the requirements of Title IX regulations (34 CFR Part 106.45).
Harassment includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment and assault that involves discrimination, coercion, exploitation and abuse.
Hostile environment may result when a situation of gender or sexual harassment or violence is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive and impacts tangible work or educational benefits, interferes unreasonably with an individual’s job performance or academic performance, or creates what a reasonable person would perceive is an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or learning environment.
Incapacitation is the physical or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments; to evaluate or control conduct; or communicate or grant consent. Incapacitation is created when the individual is unconscious, asleep, intoxicated, or under the influence of other drugs or is, for any other reason, physically, mentally or legally unable to communicate or grant consent.
Intimidation is defined as unlawfully placing another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack. Intimidation includes any communication of a threat to another person in order to force that person to engage in conduct against their will.
Non-forcible sex offenses are forms of sexual conduct with individuals who are incapable of consenting to sexual acts because they are underage, physically helpless, or mentally incompetent. This is a legal principle that means that consent given by such individuals cannot be valid. The College prohibits non-forcible sex offenses as defined by federal and Indiana law, such as incest (Non-forcible sexual intercourse, between persons who are related to each other, within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by Indiana law) and Statutory Rape (Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent of 16 in Indiana).
Private/Privacy means that information related to a report of sexual misconduct will only be shared with a limited circle of employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the active review, investigation, or resolution of a report.
Preponderance of evidence is a legal term for the standard of evidence used by the College’s Decision-maker for assessing evidence and determining whether an allegation of sexual harassment or assault is “more likely than not” to have occurred. The emphasis is different than in criminal cases where the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Quid Pro Quo Harassment occurs when a person has power or authority over another makes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature and uses submission to such sexual conduct as either an explicit or implicit term or condition of rating or evaluating an individual’s educational and/or employment progress, development, or performance. This includes when submission to such conduct would be a condition for access to receiving the benefits of any educational program.
Rape is a specific form of sexual assault that includes an act of sexual intercourse accomplished against a person who does not consent to the sexual contact or is incapable of consenting. Intercourse is defined as penetration, no matter how slight, of a bodily orifice (vagina, anus, mouth) with a body part or object.
Respondent is an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity. Any member of the College Community who is reported to have engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy, regardless of whether that individual makes a report or participates in the review of that report by the College, and regardless of whether that person is a member of the College Community.
Responsible Employee includes any employee who has the authority to take action to redress the harassment or who has the duty to report to appropriate officials sexual harassment or any other misconduct by students or employees, or an individual who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibilities. Responsible employees should connect students to the Title IX office or a Confidential employee for resources and reporting options.
Retaliation includes threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against a person filing a report of sexual misconduct/violence or any other party involved in implementing the college sexual misconduct policy. Retaliation is a violation of Goshen College policy and may be grounds for disciplinary action. No officer, employee, agent of Goshen College, witness, third party, other students, or perpetrator may retaliate, threaten, coerce or otherwise discriminate against any individual for exercising their rights or responsibilities under this policy.
Sexual assault is a forcible sex offense, which is any sexual act directed against another person (Complainant), without the consent of the Complainant, including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent. “Without consent” is interpreted to mean that the person being assaulted is: (1) compelled to submit to the assault, attempted or actual, by force or the imminent threat of force; or (2) So mentally disabled or deficient that consent to the touching cannot be given. See definitions of specific forms of sexual assault: forcible assaults, such as rape, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking; or non-forcible sexual offenses such as incest or statutory rape. This definition complies with federal definition of sexual assault 20 U.S.C.1092(f)(6)(A)(v).
Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that is determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to the College’s education program or activity.* The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the State of Indiana regard Sexual Harassment as a specific form of unlawful discriminatory harassment. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature, including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. In addition, depending on the facts, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking may also be forms of sexual harassment.
*Unwelcomeness is subjective and determined by the Complainant (except when the Complainant is below the age of consent). Severity, pervasiveness, and objective offensiveness are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances (“in the shoes of the Complainant”), including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced. A reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct, on the basis of sex, directed at a specific person, that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, or the safety of others; or to suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this definition we define “course of conduct” to mean two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent 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” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. See Indiana code 35-45-10-1 (1993) and federal definition of “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).
Title IX is a legislative act dating from 1972 that prohibits gender-based discrimination. Title IX states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” With regard to sexual assault and harassment, Title IX requires that universities and colleges receiving federal funding uphold survivors’ rights and respond to their needs, so that students have equal access to education.