For purposes of this policy, the following terms have the definitions provided below. Please note that some of these terms may also be used in other contexts.

Consent is an understandable exchange of positive and affirmative words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate and engage in mutually agreed upon specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter.

a. Consent must be informed, freely and actively given.

b. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement.

c. Silence, lack of protest, or an absence of resistance, does not imply consent.

d. Past consent to sexual activity does not imply present continued, ongoing or future consent.

e. Consent to one sexual activity does not imply consent to all. Consent must be obtained at each stage of sexual involvement.

f. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.

g. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time by communicating the lack of consent to the other person. Once withdrawal of consent is communicated, all sexual activity must cease. In other words, a simple “no” or its verbal or nonverbal equivalent means withdrawal of consent.

  1. Consent cannot be obtained by physical force, threats, intimidation, or coercion. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent.
  2. Incapacitation is a state where someone 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).
  3. Intoxication is defined as the point where the quantity of alcohol a person consumes exceeds the individual’s tolerance for alcohol and impairs behavioral or physical abilities.
  4. This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the administration of rape drugs. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of these substances, including Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another student is a violation of this policy. More information on these drugs can be found at
  5. Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sex-based and/or gender-based verbal, nonverbal, written and/or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
  6. Quid Pro Quo Harassment – harassment by a person having power or authority over another constitutes sexual harassment 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.

i. In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age. In the State of Connecticut, an individual must be at least sixteen years of age to provide effective consent. Furthermore, CT law restricts the sexual involvement of an individual under the age of 18 with an individual that is twenty years of age or older and stands in a position of power, authority, or supervision over such other person by virtue of the individual’s professional, legal, occupational or volunteer status and such other person’s participation in a program or activity. (For further information on sexual consent under Connecticut Law, see Connecticut General Statues Section 53a-71.)

j. Sexual activity with someone who one should know to be -- or based on the circumstances reasonably should know to be -- mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of this policy.

k. When a person is subjected to either mental or physical coercion— be it subtle or overt—there is no effective consent. To coerce means to compel or force one to act based on pressure, harassment, threats, or intimidation.

Guidance regarding Sexual Consent: Consent can only be accurately gauged through direct communication about the decision to engage in sexual activity. Presumptions based upon factors (such as but not limited to: clothing, alcohol consumption, or inappropriate bodily gestures) are unwarranted, and should not be considered as evidence for consent.

Although consent does not need to be verbal, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and gauging consent, and you are thus urged to seek consent in verbal form. Talking with sexual partners about desires and limits may seem awkward, but serves as the basis for positive sexual experiences shaped by mutual respect and willingness.

Complainant - an individual who reportedly experienced misconduct; in certain cases the University may serve as the complainant regardless of whether the initial complainant participates in the University’s review of that report and subsequent procedures. 

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 or produce consent (ATIXA Model Policy).

Hostile Environment - A hostile environment is created when sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, or 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.

Incapacitation - is defined as lacking the physical and/or mental ability to make informed and rational decisions or judgments. This term includes, but is not limited, to the following: persons, who are intoxicated, passed out, or asleep. Use of alcohol or drugs shall not diminish one's responsibility to obtain consent and does not excuse conduct that constitutes sexual misconduct under this policy. An example would be someone 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). Sexual activity with someone you know to be or should know to be incapacitated constitutes a violation of this policy.

Intimidation - is defined as a course of conduct directed at a person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for injury or harm through the use of threats (direct or implied).

Intimate Partner/Dating Relationship Violence - the use of physical or sexual violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, harm or other forms of emotional, sexual or economic abuse used to control a current or former partner or spouse in an intimate and/or dating relationship constitute intimate partner violence. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.  Intimate partner violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships.  Intimate partner relationships are defined as short or long-term relationships (current or former) between persons intended to provide some emotional/romantic and/or physical intimacy. Intimate partner violence is a term commonly exchanged with the terms dating violence, domestic violence, and/or relationship abuse; as such, this policy applies to each of these terms.

Investigator(s) - an appropriately trained individual(s) who reviews and investigates reports of misconduct under this policy.

Retaliation - Both Title IX and Sacred Heart University prohibit retaliation against any person for using this reporting system, or for participating in investigations or subsequent proceedings. The University will take steps to prevent retaliation and take strong responsive action if it occurs. Retaliation is defined as any action by any person what is perceived as: intimidating, hostile, harassing, retribution, or violent that occurred in connection to the making and investigation of the report. Complainants or Respondents should report any subsequent problems of harassment or retaliation. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee will follow up with complainants periodically to determine whether any retaliation or new incidents of harassment have occurred, and handle such reports accordingly.

Reporter - an individual who reports to the University a concern regarding a possible misconduct. The Reporter need not be a Complainant. Without a statement from the actual Complainant, an investigation may be limited in its scope.

Respondent - an individual who is reported to have allegedly engaged in some form of misconduct and/or has been charged with a violation of this policy.

Sexual Assault – is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, unwanted or unwelcome touching of a sexual nature, including hugging, kissing, fondling, oral sex, anal or vaginal intercourse, or other physical sexual activity that occurs without valid consent.

  • Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by any person(s) upon any other person(s) that is without consent and/or by force. 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; any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.
  • Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any object, by any person(s) upon any other person(s) that is without consent and/or by force. Non-consensual sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact. (For further information on sexual assault crimes under Connecticut Law, see Connecticut General Statues, Sections 53a-65 through 53a-73a.)

Sexual Harassment - encompasses a wide range of conduct from sexual exploitation to sexual harassment and is a violation of the University’s code of conduct. Sexual harassment can be physical or verbal in nature, and may include psychological harassment.

  • Sexual Exploitation is taking non-consensual, unjust, or abusive advantage of another in a sexual or intimate context. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, prostituting another person; engaging in permitting, reproducing, or facilitating nonconsensual viewing, videotaping, photographing, or audio taping of sexual or intimate activity (such as dressing, showering, toileting, or similar activity); knowingly infecting another person with a sexually transmitted infection.

a. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s education, living environment, employment, or participation in a University-related activity or University Program;

b. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s education, living environment, employment, or participation in a University-related activity; or

c. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s education, living environment, employment, or participation in a University-related activity.

Some examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:              

  • Promising, directly or indirectly, a person a reward, if they comply with a sexually oriented request.
  • Threatening, directly or indirectly, retaliation against a person if they refuse to comply with a sexually oriented request.
  • Denying, directly or indirectly, a person an employment or education related opportunity, if the person refuses to comply with a sexually oriented request.
  • Engaging in sexually suggestive conversation or physical contact or touching another person.
  • Displaying pornographic or sexually oriented materials in areas that may be deemed public, such as shared office space, common residential living space, classrooms, outward facing windows, etc.
  • Engaging in indecent exposure.
  • Making sexual or romantic advances toward a person and persisting despite the person’s rejection of the advances.
  • Suggestive or lewd remarks.
  • Staring or leering at parts of a person’s body.
  • Physical conduct such as assault, touching, or blocking normal movement.
  • Retaliation for making harassment reports or threatening to report harassment.
  • Sexual harassment can occur to any person regardless of someone’s gender identity, gender expression, or biological sex. Although sexual harassment sometimes involves a person in a greater position of authority as the harasser, individuals in positions of lesser or equal authority also can be found responsible for engaging in prohibited harassment.
  • An aggregation of a series of incidents can constitute sexual harassment even if one of the incidents, considered separately would not rise to the level of harassment.
  • Sexual harassment may occur in a single episode as well as in repetitive behavior.
  • Acts of sexual harassment can be perpetrated by one person or by a group of individuals.

Sexual Misconduct - unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is committed without valid consent, including sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct may occur between people regardless of their sex and/or gender identity. Sexual misconduct can include both intentional conduct and conduct that result in negative effects, even if those negative effects were unintended. Sexual misconduct can also include retaliation in connection with a complainant’s or reporter’s allegations under this policy.

Support Person - an individual chosen by a Complainant, Respondent or Reporter, to provide support during the review of a report and/or during the hearing process of possible sexual misconduct. The person(s) chosen may not already be directly involved in the investigative process (for example, a witness, or Reporter) and may not speak on behalf of the person they are supporting, but instead may be present only to assist or advise the individual they are supporting, in a non-advocacy role.

Stalking - willful and repeated course of conduct that is unwelcomed and directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her or his physical safety, for the safety of a third person, or to feel extreme emotional distress, bodily injury or death due to repetitive contact or the perception of such conduct. Stalking behaviors include, but are not limited to: non-consensual communication by any means, collecting information by any means, use of surveillance in person or via electronic means (telephone, mail, email, text, social networking or any other like method), collecting information about a person’s routine, friends, family, or coworkers, uninvited visits to a residence, workplace, classroom, worship location, or other locations where an individual is commonly found.

  • “Course of conduct” means two or more acts, including but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveys, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  • “Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
  • “Reasonable person” is defined as an individual’s perspective of the reporting party’s circumstances within a given context.