George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

What Can I Report?

Helping You Understand Your Rights and Protections

Title IX covers all university students, faculty, staff, and applicants who have or may have encountered sexual misconduct.

There is no time limit for reporting prohibited conduct to the university under this policy; however, the university’s ability to respond might diminish over time, as evidence can erode, memories may fade, and respondents may no longer be affiliated with the university.  If the respondent is no longer a student or an employee, the university will provide reasonably appropriate remedial measures, assist the complainant in identifying external reporting options, and take reasonable steps to eliminate prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.  Complainants may simultaneously pursue criminal and university complaints.

The university will not pursue disciplinary action against complainants or witnesses for disclosure of illegal personal consumption of drugs or alcohol where such disclosures are made in connection with a good faith report or investigation of prohibited conduct.  For more information, see the University Medical Amnesty Program.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault consists of (1) sexual contact and/or (2) sexual intercourse that occurs without (3) affirmative consent.

Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object or body part (as described below) performed by one person upon another person.  This includes:

  • Intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching another with any of these body parts; and,
  • Making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts.

Sexual Intercourse is any penetration, however slight, with an object or body part performed by a person upon another person.  This includes:

  • Vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger;
  • Anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and,
  • Any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitalia of another person.

Affirmative Consent is consent that is informed (knowing), voluntary (freely given), and active (not passive) meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.

  • Affirmative consent cannot be obtained by force; force includes (a) the use of physical violence, (b) threats, (c) intimidation, and/or (d) coercion.
  • Affirmative consent cannot be gained by taking advantage of the incapacitcation of another, where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated.
    • Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether or not to engage in sexual activity.
    •  A person who is incapacitated is unable, temporarily or permanently, to give affirmative consent because of mental or physical helplessness, sleep, unconsciousness, or lack of awareness that sexual activity is taking place.
    • A person may be incapacitated as a result of the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, or due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition.
Interpersonal Violence

Interpersonal Violence (commonly referred to as intimate partner violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and relationship violence) can encompass a broad range of abusive behavior committed by a person who is or has been:

  • In a romantic or intimate relationship with the Complainant (of the same or different sex);
  • The Complainant’s spouse or partner (of the same or different sex);
  • The Complainant’s family member; or
  • The Complainant’s cohabitant or household member within the past 12 months, including a roommate.

Behaviors indicative of Interpersonal Violence can include physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, economic control, and neglect that a reasonable person in similar circumstances and with similar identities would find intimidating, frightening, terrorizing, or threatening.  This can include threats of violence to one’s self, one’s family member, or even one’s pet.

Stalking

Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or to experience substantial emotional distress.

Course of conduct means two or more acts — including but not limited to acts in which a person follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person (or interferes with another's property) by any action, method, device or means.  These acts may be done directly, indirectly, or through third parties.

Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish.

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment

Harassment is a type of discrimination that occurs when verbal, physical, electronic, or other conduct based on an individual’s Protected Status (University Policy 1201 - Non-Discrimination) interferes with that individual’s (a) educational environment (e.g., admission, academic standing, grades, assignment); (b) work environment (e.g., hiring, advancement, assignment); (c) participation in a University program or activity (e.g., campus housing); or (d) receipt of legitimately-requested services (e.g., disability or religious accommodations), thereby creating Hostile Environment Harassment or Quid Pro Quo Harassment, as defined below.

  1. Hostile Environment Harassment
    Unwelcome conduct based on Protected Status that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances and with similar identities would find hostile, intimidating, or abusive.  An isolated incident, unless sufficiently severe, does not amount to Hostile Environment Harassment.
  2. Quid Pro Quo Harassment
    Unwelcome conduct based on Protected Status where submission to or rejection of such conduct is used, explicitly or implicitly, as the basis for decisions affecting an individual’s education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity.

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, physical, or electronic conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment;
  • Verbal, physical, or electronic conduct based on Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation, or sex-stereotyping that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature; or,
  • Harassment for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s Sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression of the individuals involved.

Consistent with the definitions provided above, conduct that constitutes Discrimination and Harassment:

  • May be blatant and involve an overt action, threat, or reprisal; or may be subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated but implied.
  • May or may not include intent to harm.
  • May not always be directed at a specific target.
  • May be committed by anyone, regardless of Protected Status, position, or authority.
  • May be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the Complainant has a current or previous relationship, including a romantic or sexual relationship.
  • May be committed by or against an individual, or by or against an organization or group. 
  • May occur in the classroom, in the workplace, in residential settings, or in any other setting.
  • May be committed in the presence of others, when the Complainant and Respondent are alone, or through remote communications, including email, text messages, or social media.
  • May take the form of threats, assault, property damage, economic abuse, and violence or threats of violence.
  • May include harassing or retaliatory behavior directed to a sexual or romantic partner, family member, friend, or pet of the Complainant.
Sexual Exploitation

Sexual Exploitation is a form of Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment that involves purposely or knowingly doing one or more of the following without Affirmative Consent:

  • Taking sexual advantage of another person;
  • Taking advantage of another’s sexuality; or
  • Exceeding the boundaries of consensual sexual contact without the knowledge of the other individual.

Sexual Exploitation may be committed for any purpose, including sexual arousal or gratification, financial gain, or other personal benefit.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Causing the incapacitation of another person (through alcohol, drugs, or any other means) for the purpose of compromising that person’s ability to give Affirmative Consent to sexual activity;
  • Allowing third parties to observe private sexual activity from a hidden location (e.g., closet) or through electronic means (e.g., Skype or livestreaming of images) without consent of all parties;
  • Engaging in voyeurism (e.g., watching private sexual activity without the consent of the participants, or viewing another person’s intimate parts in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy);
  • Recording or photographing private sexual activity and/or a person’s intimate parts without consent;
  • Disseminating or posting images of private sexual activity and/or a person’s intimate parts without consent;
  • Threatening to disclose an individual’s Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression;
  • Prostituting another person;
  • Exposing another person to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without the other’s knowledge; or
  • Knowingly failing to use contraception, or deliberately removing or compromising contraception without the other party’s knowledge ("Stealthing") 
Complicity

Complicity is any act taken with the purpose of aiding, facilitating, promoting or encouraging the commission of an act of prohibited conduct by another person.

Retaliation

Retaliation means any adverse action taken against a person for making a good-faith report of prohibited conduct.  Retaliation includes threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing, or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in a protected activity, and may be present even where there is a finding of “no responsibility” on the allegations of prohibited conduct. 

Retaliation does not include good-faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of prohibited conduct.

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