Defining Sexual Misconduct

Shenandoah University defines “sexual misconduct” as engaging in any sexual behavior without consent, including sexual conduct that occurs after consent has been withdrawn. Sexual misconduct that causes physical or emotional discomfort to any person involved is prohibited.

To constitute sexual misconduct, the sexual behavior must meet any one of the following criteria:

  1. The sexual behavior is not consensual.
  2. The sexual behavior includes force, threat(s) or intimidation.
  3. The sexual behavior occurs when one person is a minor or is mentally or physically helpless, including but not limited to being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. 

What is consent?

Consent is defined as voluntary willingness to participate in sexual acts. Open communication about expectations and desires is critical to obtaining consent. Consent can only be given by a person who has control of his/her mental and physical capabilities.

Sex without consent is sexual misconduct. Use of force, intimidation or coercion is a denial of a person’s right to freely give his/her consent. Even if someone has agreed to sexually engage, that person has the right to withdraw consent at any time. A person who is incapacitated cannot legally give consent. Silence does not imply consent.


What is incapacitation?

Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational decisions. Such inability voids an individual’s capacity to give consent. Incapacitation may be caused by a permanent or temporary physical or mental impairment. Incapacitation may also result from the consumption of alcohol or the use of either illegal and/or prescribed substances.


What is coercion?

Coercion is defined as an unreasonable amount of pressure to engage in sexual activity. Coercive behavior is not the same as seduction.


What is force?

Force is defined as the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force can include but is not limited to threats, intimidation, implied threats and coercion that overcomes resistance or produces consent.


What is non-consensual sexual contact?

Non-consensual sexual contact involves any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman that is without consent and/or is by force.


What is non-consensual sexual intercourse?

Non-consensual sexal intercourse involves any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any object by a man or woman upon a man or woman that is without consent and/or is by force. Sexual intercourse is defined by penetration (anal, oral, vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger or inanimate object.


What is relationship violence?

Relationship violence is the use of physical, emotional or sexually abusive behavior to gain power or control over another person in an intimate relationship.


What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes sexual advantage of another person without consent. This includes but is not limited to causing or attempting to cause incapacitation of another individual for sexual purposes; prostitution of another person; videotaping, recording, photographing or transmitting (including electronically) intimate or sexual sounds or images of another person; allowing third parties to observe sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person; invasion of sexual privacy; and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV to another person.

What is sexual harassment?

Shenandoah University defines “sexual harassment” as making unwelcomed sexual advances, requesting sexual favors or engaging in other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature when at least one of the following conditions is met:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a condition of an individual’s employment, membership or education.
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, membership or academic decisions affecting the individual.
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work, academic or living environment.