What is Sexual Misconduct?
Sexual misconduct is a broad range of behavior that includes, but is not limited to, non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating/relationship violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Sometimes students are unsure if what they or their friends experienced was sexual misconduct. If you are unsure, please contact the University's Title IX Coordinators:
- Tracy Cassalia, Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator, (804) 289-8464
- Carl Sorensen, Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, (804) 289-8166
Members of the University community may also contact:
- Beth Simonds, Assistant Chief of Police, University of Richmond Police Department, (804) 289-8722
The University of Richmond strongly encourages reporting of potential sexual misconduct. Reports of possible sexual misconduct may be made to the Title IX Coordinators and to the University of Richmond Police Department. Please call the Police Department Emergency Number (804) 289-8911 if you witness a possible crime or if you or someone else needs immediate assistance.
Consent means clear and unambiguous agreement to engage in sexual activity as evidenced by words or actions that demonstrate a knowing and voluntary willingness to engage in mutually-agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, duress, intimidation, coercion, by ignoring objections, or by taking advantage of another's incapacitation. Consent may not be inferred from silence or any other lack of active resistance. It may not be implied by attire or inferred from an individual by spending money on that individual (e.g., buying a meal on a date).
Prior consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts. A current or prior consensual dating or sexual relationship between two people does not imply consent to sexual activity or preclude a finding of sexual misconduct. In addition, consent to one type of sexual act does not automatically imply consent to another type of sexual act.
Consent may be withdrawn at any time. Once a person withdraws consent, it does not matter if or what kind of sexual behavior has occurred up to that moment at an earlier date or time. For example, if one individual says "no" and the other forces penetration, it is sexual misconduct.
Consent may not be given by the following persons:
- Individuals who are mentally incapacitated at the time of the sexual contact in a manner that prevents them from understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual act involved, including incapacitation as a result of alcohol or drug use;
- Individuals who are asleep, unconscious or otherwise physically helpless; and
Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments that prevents an individual from giving valid 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 drugs.
The use of alcohol or drugs may, but does not automatically, affect a person's ability to consent to sexual contact. The consumption of alcohol or drugs may create a mental incapacity if the nature and degree of the intoxication go beyond the stage of merely reduced inhibition to the point where the individual is unable to make knowing, informed decisions or to understand the nature and consequences of the sexual act. In such case, the person cannot consent.
A person violates the sexual misconduct policy if they have sexual contact with someone they know or should know is mentally incapacitated or has reached the degree of intoxication that results in incapacitation. The test of whether an individual should know about another's incapacitation is whether a reasonable, sober person would know about the incapacitation. A respondent cannot rebut a sexual misconduct charge merely by arguing that they were drunk or otherwise impaired and, as a result did not know that the other person was incapacitated.
A person who is passed out or unconscious as a result of the consumption of alcohol or drugs is physically helpless and is not able to consent.
Any sexual contact that occurs without consent constitutes non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual contact means physical contact committed with the intent to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify any person, where one person intentionally touches another's intimate parts or clothing directly covering such intimate parts. Examples of sexual contact include the intentional touching of a person's genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks or the clothing covering any of those areas, or using force to cause the person to touch their own genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks. Non-consensual sexual contact is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
The act of sexual intercourse that occurs without consent constitutes non-consensual sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is defined by penetration (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, by a penis, tongue, finger, or inanimate object. Non-consensual sexual intercourse is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Taking sexual advantage of another person without effective consent constitutes sexual exploitation. This does not include non-consensual sexual contact or intercourse, which constitute seperate violations of the University's sexual misconduct policy. Examples of sexual exploitation include but are not limited to causing the incapacitation of another person for a sexual purpose; causing the prostitution of another person; electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds, or images of another person, including images of someone undressed or partially undressed; allowing third parties to observe sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person; and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, to another person. Sexual exploitation is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Stalking is engaging in a course of unwanted conduct toward a specific person (including surveillance, repeated phone calls, emails, text messages, social media messages or in-person contact) that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their own safety or the safety of others or to suffer substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the person directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, another person, or interferes with another person’s property. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. Any act that constitutes stalking under Virginia law is also prohibited under this policy. Stalking is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Sexual harassment is unwanted or offensive conduct or communication of a sexual nature directed toward another in which either:
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic success or is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or
- The conduct or communication was severe and/or persistent and, as a result, created a hostile environment.
The following type of conduct or behavior may constitute sexual harassment:
- Making unwelcome or offensive comments about a person's clothing, body, or personal life;
- Use of unwelcome or offensive nicknames or terms of endearment;
- Offensive jokes or unwelcome innuendoes;
- Unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors;
- Any suggestion that sexual favors, or status as being in any protected classification identified above, would affect one's job promotion, performance evaluations, grades, working, or education conditions;
- Insults, epithets, jokes, slurs, or offensive comments that relate to sex, sexual orientation, gender identitiy, or gender expression; or
- The placement, dissemination, or circulation of any written, graphic, virtual, or electronic material of a sexual nature.
Sexual harassment is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Coercion is unreasonable, inappropriate pressure to engage in sexual activity. Coercive behavior is different than romantic or seductive behavior because coercive behavior involves inappropriate or unreasonable pressure to obtain consent from another person for sexual activity. Continued pressure to engage in sexual activity after the other person makes it clear that they do not want to engage in, want to stop, or do not want to go further with sexual activity can be coercion.
Physically restraining a person against their will, using violence or the threat of violence, or using a weapon or threatening to use a weapon constitutes physical force. An example of physical force includes using bodyweight to hold someone in place.
Threats cause a person to do something that they would not have done without the threat. Examples of threats include, but are not limited to:
- "If you do not have sex with me, I will harm someone close to you.”
- “If you do not do what I want, I will tell people that you are gay.”
- “If you do not hook up with me, I will tell people you are a whore."
- “If you stop hooking up with me, I will kill myself.”
Intimidation can be defined as an implied threat. Examples of intimidation include use of body size to block an exit, breaking or smashing items, or using looks or gestures to create fear.
Dating or relationship violence is any type of violence, including sexual or physical assault or abuse, or the threat of such assault or abuse, between adults who are in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating/relationship violence is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Domestic violence is an act of violence committed: (a) by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (b) by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (c) by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (d) by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under Virginia law; or (e) by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under Virginia law. Domestic violence is sexual misconduct prohibited by the University.
Sexual violence is any physical sexual act or acts perpetrated against a person’s will or against a person incapable of giving consent. Examples of sexual violence include non-consensual sexual contact and non-consensual sexual intercourse. Depending upon the circumstances, sexual violence may also include dating/relationship violence or domestic violence.
The University's policy against hazing is separate from the sexual misconduct policy. In some cases conduct may violate both policies. Hazing is an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group organization, could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment; destroys or removes public or private property; involves the consumption of alcohol, other drugs, or other substances; or violates any of the policies of the University of Richmond. Hazing that involves sexual misconduct will be investigated by the Title IX Coordinators in addition to other campus officials. Hazing is prohibited by the University.
In the context of sexual misconduct, unwanted conduct or communications of a sexual nature may create a hostile environment when the conduct is severe and/or persistent and, as a result, is likely to interfere with or limit a person’s work or education and/or ability to benefit from the University’s programs, such as courses, extracurricular activities, or study abroad, or affect adversely the person’s living conditions on campus. The more severe the conduct at issue, the less likely that it needs to be repetitive to create a hostile environment. Any reported incident of sexual misconduct will be investigated by the University and may result in a disciplinary charge regardless of whether a hostile environment has been created.
Retaliation is retribution in any form against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential, or suspected violation of applicable laws, regulations, or University policies, including the Sexual Misconduct Policy. This includes retribution or retaliation against third party witnesses aiding in the investigation of a sexual misconduct report. Retaliation is misconduct prohibited by the University. Retaliation is also prohibited by Title IX and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.
The term “complainant” as used in this policy and in the University’s Standards of Student Conduct refers to the individual who is the subject of an act or incident of alleged sexual misconduct. The complainant may or may not be the individual who makes the report of sexual misconduct. The complainant may also be referred to as the accusing student, the victim or the survivor of an act of sexual misconduct.
The term “respondent” ” as used in this policy and in the University’s Standards of Student Conduct refers to the person who is alleged to have violated the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. The respondent may also be referred to as the accused student or the alleged perpetrator.
The term “Responsible Employee” as used in this policy and as defined by Virginia law refers to an employee of the University who has the authority to take action to redress alleged sexual misconduct, including sexual violence, who has been given the duty of reporting acts of sexual misconduct, including sexual violence, to the Title IX Coordinators, or whom a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibility.
The following University employees are Responsible Employees because they have the authority to take action to redress alleged sexual misconduct, including sexual violence:
- The Title IX Coordinators;
- The Vice President for Student Development;
- The Deans of Westhampton College and Richmond College, the Law School’s Associate Dean Student Services & Administration, Law School Dean's Office, the Program Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Business, and Associate Dean, School of Professional and Continuing Studies;
- The University’s conduct officers;
- The Associate Vice President for Human Resources; and
- The sworn officers of the University of Richmond Police Department.
Other than confidential resources, the following University employees are Responsible Employees because they have a duty to report acts of sexual misconduct, including sexual violence, to the appropriate Title IX Coordinator.
- All faculty members.
- All University employees with the title of assistant director, associate dean or above;
- Residence Life staff including Resident Advisors and Area Coordinators.
- All employees engaged in academic advising.
- University staff accompanying students on off-campus programs or other University-related trips, within and outside the United States.
- All employees in the following divisions, departments, or offices:
- Academic Deans;
- Academic Skills Center;
- Camps and Conferences;
- Career Services;
- Financial Aid;
- Human Resources;
- International Education;
- President’s Office;
- Provost’s Office;
- Student Development; and
- University of Richmond Police Department.
- All employees identified as Campus Security Authorities.