Definitions of Roles, Concepts, and Prohibited Conduct


  • Reporting Party – The individual who is the alleged victim of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and/or sex and gender based discrimination.    

  • Responding Party – The individual alleged to have committed sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and/or sex and gender based discrimination.


  • Consent – is clear, knowing, and voluntary words or actions that give permission for specific sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity. There is no consent when force, coercion, intimidation, or threats are used. There also cannot be consent when an individual is incapacitated. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity, nor can previous relationships or previous consent imply consent to any future sexual acts. Consent can be withdrawn once it is given, as long as that withdrawal is clearly communicated. Lastly, one must be of legal age to grant consent. Legal age in North Carolina is 16 years of age.

  • Coercion – Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sexual contact, 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.  If coercion is used, there is no consent.

  • Force – Force is the use of physical violence, and/or imposing on someone physically, to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance to produce consent.  If force is used, there is no consent.

  • Incapacitation – Incapacitation is defined as a state in which a person cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). Incapacitation can occur from many things, including mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, from the use of alcohol and/or drugs, or blackout. If a person is incapacitated, there is no consent. Sexual activity with someone known to be or whom an individual should reasonably know to be incapacitated constitutes a violation of this policy.

Note: The use of alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense for any behavior that violates this policy.


Prohibited Conduct:

  • Sexual Harassment – Sexual Harassment is unwelcome, sexual, sex-based and/or gender-based verbal, written, online and/or physical conduct.

    • Sexual harassment can take the form of quid pro quo harassment, retaliatory harassment and/or creates a hostile environment. 
    • A hostile environment is created when sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive,and objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, the University’s educational and/or employment, social and/or residential program.
    • The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on the totality of the circumstances. These circumstances include, but are not limited to, the following:
      • The frequency of the conduct
      • The nature and severity of the conduct
      • Whether the conduct was physically threatening
      • Whether the conduct was humiliating
      • The effect of the conduct on the alleged victim’s mental or emotional state
      • Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person
      • Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct
      • Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the reporting party’s educational or work performance
    • Quid Pro Quo Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a person having power or authority over another or when submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating or evaluating an individual’s educational 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 or employment program.
  • Non-Consensual Sexual Contact – Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent.

    • Sexual Contact includes intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; or any other intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner.
  • Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse – Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any body part or object, by a person upon another person, that is without consent and/or by force. This includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

  • Sexual Exploitation – Sexual Exploitation occurs when one person takes non-consensual 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 one of the other sexual misconduct offenses.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

    • Invasion of sexual privacy;

    • Prostituting another person;

    • Non-consensual digital, video or audio recording of nudity or sexual activity;

    • Unauthorized sharing or distribution of digital, video or audio recording of nudity or sexual activity;

    • Engaging in voyeurism;

    • Knowingly exposing someone to or transmitting an STI, STD or HIV to another person;

    • Intentionally or recklessly exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances or inducing another to expose their genitals in non-consensual circumstances;

    • Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation

  • Relationship or Intimate Partner Abuse – Relationship or Intimate Partner Abuse (also known as Dating Violence or Domestic Violence) is abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other partner. Intimate partner violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Intimate partner violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the alleged victim, where the existence of such a relationship is determined based on the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

  • Stalking – Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class that is unwelcome, and would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking can also be repetitive and menacing conduct, purposely or knowingly causing emotional distress, or pursuing, following, harassing, and/or interfering with the peace and/or the safety of another.

  • Note: Conduct which violates any other University policy may fall under this policy when it is allegedly motivated by actual or perceived sex or gender. 


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