Glossary of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Terms

Key terms

​Consent - ​At CMU Consent means an affirmative, conscious decision by a participant to engage in sexual activity.  Consent must be freely and voluntarily given with knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.  CMU will consider the following when evaluating whether the Complainant has given Consent:

  • Level of mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which the individual Consented and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way;
  • Whether Consent was obtained through the use of force, coercion, threats, or intimidation, or by taking advantage of the Incapacitation of another individual;
  • Whether communication regarding Consent used mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicated an unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity.  If there is no evidence of clear communication or outward demonstration, CMU will find that Consent was not given;
  • Whether Complainant withdrew Consent; and or
  • Whether, once withdrawn, the sexual activity ceased immediately and/or all parties received mutually expressed or clearly stated Consent before continuing further sexual activity;
  • CMU will not consider Consent to one form of sexual contact as Consent to all forms of sexual contact; nor will it consider Consent to sexual activity with one person as Consent to activity with any other person.  Each participant in a sexual encounter must Consent to each form of sexual contact with each participant;
  • Even in the context of a current or previous intimate relationship, CMU will evaluate whether each party Consented to each instance of sexual contact each time;
  • Complainant need not resist the sexual advance or request to demonstrate lack of Consent; however, CMU will view Complainant's resistance as a clear demonstration on non-Consent.

Dating Violence – means violence, or threat of violence, by a person who had been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the Complainant. Whether there was such a relationship will be gauged by the length, type, and frequency of interaction.

Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence – means a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant, by a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the Complainant as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the applicable jurisdiction, or by any other person against a Complainant who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the applicable jurisdiction. To constitute Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence under this Policy, the relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant must be more than just two people living together as roommates.

Incapacitation – means a state in which an individual cannot make the informed and rational decision to engage in Sexual Activity because the individual lacks conscious knowledge of the nature of the act (e.g., cannot understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of the sexual interaction) or is physically helpless.

  • An Incapacitated person is unable to give Consent. An individual is Incapacitated when asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring. This includes an individual incapable of giving consent because of their age of their temporary or permanent mental incapacity.  Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or other drugs.
  • Because the impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person, CMU will not find an individual Incapacitated solely based on that person's consumption of alcohol or other drugs, impairment, inebriation, or intoxication. Instead, it will conduct a case-by-case evaluation to assess how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs impacts an individual's decision-making ability, awareness of consequences, ability to make informed judgments, or capacity to appreciate the nature and the quality of the behavior. 
  • In any claim, CMU will evaluate whether Respondent knew or should have known that Complainant was Incapacitated when viewed from the position of a sober, reasonable person.  
  • CMU will not accept being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol as an excuse for Covered Behavior; nor will it consider intoxication or such impairment to diminish a respondent's responsibility to obtain Consent. 

Sexual Assault – means touching of a sexual nature without Consent, including, but not limited to, any of the following acts:

  • Penetration, no matter how slight, of a person's vagina or anus with any body part or object without the Complainant's consent;
  • Penetration, no matter how slight, of a person's mouth by another person's sex organ without the Complainant's consent;
  • Intentional touching, without the Complainant's Consent, of a person's intimate body parts, or any materials, such as clothing, covering the immediate area of a person's intimate body parts, including, but not limited to that person's breasts, buttocks, groin, or mouth, for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification, a sexual purpose, or in a sexual manner.

​Sexual Exploitation – means conduct involving a person taking, or attempting to take, non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of a Complainant when such conduct would not otherwise be defined as sexual harassment or sexual assault including, but not limited to:

  • Benefiting, promoting, or earning money from the prostitution of another individual;
  • Producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing an image of child pornography, regardless of whether or not the image is physical or digital;
  • Engaging in sexual voyeurism or knowingly allowing another individual to engage in sexual voyeurism, either in person or through electronic means;
  • Producing, distributing, receiving, possessing, or taking pictures or otherwise creating a record or recording of a sexual nature without the Complainant's Consent or exceeding the boundaries of that Consent;
  • Distribution, or otherwise making available, materials, whether physical or digital, of a sexual nature beyond the Consent of all of the individuals depicted in the materials;
  • Exposing one's genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in non- consensual circumstances;
  • Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without their knowledge;
  • Sex based bullying; or
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity. 

Sexual Harassment – means nonconsensual unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal, electronic or physical conduct of a sexual nature when the conduct does not constitute Title IX Sexual Harassment, and when:

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, evaluation of academic work or participation in any aspect of a University program or activity (e.g., quid pro quo); 
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual (e.g., quid pro quo);  or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an Individual's work or academic performance; i.e. it is sufficiently serious, pervasive or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both a subjective and an objective standard. 
  • A single isolated incident of Sexual Harassment may jeopardize equal access to a program or activity if it is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to be found responsible for a Policy violation, particularly if the Behavior is physical. Examples of conduct that may constitute Sexual Harassment are listed in the Procedures. 

Sexual Misconduct – means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation.

Stalking – means a course of conduct directed at a specific Complainant that would cause a reasonable person to fear for that person's own or someone else's safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Title IX Sexual Harassment  – means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

A CMU employee conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual's participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;

Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient's education program or activity; or

"Sexual assault" as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), "dating violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), "domestic violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or "stalking" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30). The University's definition of Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct is broader than the behavior covered solely by Title IX.

For Title IX to apply, the incident must be reported while the Parties are all associated with the University (as current students or employees) and must have occurred on property owned or operated b the University, in the United States.