Definitions, Policies, and Laws

Allegation. A statement by a complainant that an act of sexual misconduct has occurred.

Coercion. Coercion is inappropriate pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When a person makes clear that they do not want sex, wants to stop, or that going past a certain point of sexual interaction is unwanted, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

Complainant. The person making an allegation or complaint of sexual misconduct.

Complaint. A formal notification, either orally or in writing, of the belief that sexual misconduct has occurred.

Consent. Consent is clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive, and is given by clear actions or words. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Being intoxicated does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent. In some situations, an individual may be deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activity because of circumstances or the behavior of another, or due to their age.[1] Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to, incompetence, impairment from alcohol and/or other drugs, fear, unconsciousness, intimidation, coercion, confinement, isolation, or mental or physical impairment.

Dating Violence. The use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or other forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, technological, or economic abuse directed toward a person with whom one is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or sexually intimate nature that does not constitute domestic violence. Whether there is or was such a relationship will be determined based on, among other factors, the parties’ statements, and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the parties involved in the relationship. Dating violence includes behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, or physically injure someone. Dating violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships. Dating violence is sometimes called intimate partner violence.

Domestic Violence. The use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or other forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, technological, or economic abuse directed toward (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner; (2) a person with whom one shares a child; or (3) anyone who is protected from the Respondent’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of Georgia. This includes behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, or physically injure someone. Domestic violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships. Domestic violence is also sometimes called intimate partner violence.

Force. 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 overcomes resistance or produces consent. There is no requirement that a person has to resist the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.

Gender-Based Harassment. Includes harassment based upon gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature when:   (a.) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s academic, co-curricular, or campus life activities; (b.) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or student life decisions affecting that individual; (c.) the conduct is so severe and/or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s university employment, academic performance, or participation in university programs or activities; or (d.) the conduct is so severe and/or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive campus or living environment.

Incapacitation. Incapacity can result from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from intentional or unintentional taking of alcohol and/or other drugs. An incapacitated person does not have the ability to give knowing consent. Sexual activity with a person who one should know to be – or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated, constitutes a violation of this policy. The perspective of a reasonable person will be the basis for determining whether one should have known about the impact of the use of alcohol and/or drugs on another’s ability to give consent.

Interpersonal Violence, regardless if it is one instance or years of abuse, involves a perpetrator establishing control over the survivor by relying on systems of oppression.  However, sexual assault and relationship violence can be perpetrated against anyone regardless of her/his/hir gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, religion, ability, country of origin, or education level. Sexual assault and relationship violence are pervasive public health problems, but they are not inevitable.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples, whether cohabitating or not, and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV can vary in frequency and severity, can occur on a continuum, and can include acts of physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, or psychological or emotional violence. Psychological or emotional violence is a broad term that results in trauma to a victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics, and can include acts of humiliation, intimidation, isolation, stalking, and harassment.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Any intentional sexual touching by a person upon a person, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual Contact includes, but is not limited to, intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, 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, with any object.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse. Any sexual intercourse by a person upon a person, that is without consent and/or by force. Intercourse includes, but is not limited to, vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; 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.

Relationship Violence is a pattern of behavior used by a perpetrator to gain and maintain power over their intimate partner/s. This may include physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, sexual, verbal, psychological, and/or economic abuse.  Relationship violence is sometimes referred to as dating violence or intimate partner violence (IPV). Abusive or violent acts can also be considered relationship violence if they occur between people who were previously dating, in a relationship, or engaging in sexual activity with each other.

Respondent refers to the person against whom the allegation or complaint of sexual misconduct is made.

Sexual Exploitation occurs when a student 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 other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to the following:  invasion of sexual privacy; prostituting another student; non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity; going beyond the boundaries of consent; observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts; knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student; exposing one’s breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, in non-consensual circumstances; inducing another to expose their breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals; sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may constitute a form of sexual exploitation, as well as a form of sexual harassment, as discussed above.

Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome conduct, based on sex or on gender stereotypes, which is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s university employment, academic performance or participation in university programs or activities or creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive. Sexual harassment may include, for example, an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwelcome sexual attention or advances; to punish a refusal to comply with a sexual based request; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence or sexual assault; intimate partner violence; stalking; and gender-based bullying.

Sexual Misconduct. Sexual misconduct encompasses sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact (or attempts to commit same); non-consensual sexual intercourse (or attempts to commit same), and sexual exploitation. Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual misconduct can be committed by persons of any gender or sex, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.

Sexual Violence is any form of unwanted sexual contact obtained without consent and/or obtained through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion.

Stalking. Behavior where a person follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person without the consent of that person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating him or her. The term “contact” means to make or attempt to make any communication, including, but not limited to, communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer or computer network, or by any other electronic device. “Harassing and intimidating” refers to communication directed at a person that causes emotional distress because of a reasonable fear for the person’s safety or safety of others, and which serves no legitimate purpose. It does not require that an overt threat of death or bodily injury be made.

Student. The term student means any person pursuing academic studies at the university. The term also includes: (1) a person not currently enrolled who was enrolled in the fall, spring, or summer term preceding the alleged violation, or (2) a person who, while not currently enrolled, was previously enrolled in Emory University and who is reasonably anticipated to seek enrollment at a future date, (3) a person who has applied to or been accepted for admission to Emory university and has accepted an offer of admission or may reasonably be expected to enroll, or (4) a person enrolled in the Emory University Pre-College Program on a credit or non-credit basis.

NOTE:  [1] In Georgia, minors under the age of 16 years are generally unable to provide consent, with narrow exceptions. See Georgia Code Ann. § 16-6-3, Statutory Rape.

Emory University is dedicated to providing equal opportunities to all individuals regardless of sex, race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Emory University does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment on the basis of any factor stated above or prohibited under applicable laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and other applicable statutes and University Policies.  Students, faculty, and staff are assured of participation in University programs and in the use of facilities without such discrimination

Thus, in accordance with these federal laws and consistent with its commitment to a fair and open campus environment, Emory cannot and will not tolerate discrimination against or harassment of any individual or group based upon sex, race,  color, religion, gender, ethnic or national origin, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or any factor that is a prohibited consideration under applicable law. The University recognizes its responsibility to increase awareness discrimination of all types, prevent its occurrence, and diligently investigate reports of misconduct.

Emory University prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment, including sexual assault, and other forms of interpersonal violence.  Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. However, Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination is not limited to sexual harassment and violence. Inquiries concerning application of Title IX may be made to the Office for Civil Rights in addition to or instead of such other campus and non-campus resources.Emory fosters a safe learning and working environment that supports academic and professional growth of students, staff, and faculty and does not tolerate sexual harassment, including, but not limited to, violence in its community, and is obligated to address incidents of which it has notice.

Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under federal law, the Emory University Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy (Policy 1.3), and the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (Policy 8.2). Sexual misconduct can occur in many forms, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, and gender-based bullying.

All members of the Emory University Community are encouraged to promptly report incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination to the University Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator for Students, a Deputy Title IX Coordinator, or other mandatory reporters in order to invoke the university’s Title IX process. Reports may be made in a written or verbal format. A reporting form is available at

For Emory's full sexual misconduct policy, visit the Emory Policies website (Policy 8.2).