Terminology for understanding the sexual and gender-based misconduct policy
Advisor of choice: Both the reporting individual and responding student may elect to be accompanied by an advisor of their choosing to any meetings, conferences, and interviews. The advisor's role is limited to observing and consulting with, and providing support to, the reporting individual or responding student; an advisor may not speak on behalf of the reporting individual or responding student. The reporting individual and responding student have the right to consult with an attorney at their own expense. Attorneys may be present at any meetings, including the Adjudication Panel, when applicable; however, attorneys may not take part directly in the panel review itself and may only serve in an advisory capacity.
Affirmative consent: Affirmative consent is the basis of this policy because affirmative consent maintains the value that all persons have the right to feel respected, acknowledged and safe during sexual activity. Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Attempted act: Attempts to commit sexual or gender-based misconduct are also prohibited under this policy, as is aiding the commission of sexual misconduct as an accomplice.
Awareness programs: This refers to community-wide or audience-specific programming, initiatives and strategies that increase audience knowledge and share information and resources to prevent violence, promote safety and reduce perpetration.
Bystander intervention: This means safe and positive options that may be carried out by an individual or individuals to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Bystander intervention includes recognizing situations of potential harm, understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate violence, overcoming barriers to intervening, identifying safe and effective intervention options and taking action to intervene.
Coercion: Coercion is the use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against an individual’s will. Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, threats and blackmail. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Coercion is evaluated based on the intensity, frequency and duration of the comments or actions. Examples of coercion include threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity.
Confidentiality: Confidentiality means that information shared by an individual with designated campus or community professionals cannot be revealed to any other individual without express permission of the individual, or as otherwise permitted by law. Those campus and community professionals include medical providers, mental health providers and ordained clergy, all of whom normally have privileged confidentiality that is recognized by the law. Skidmore additionally grants institutional confidentiality to our victim advocates. These individuals are prohibited from breaking confidentiality unless (i) given permission to do so by the person who disclosed the information; (ii) there is an imminent threat of harm to self or others; (iii) the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor under the age of 18, or (iv) as otherwise required or permitted by law or court order.
Dating violence: Dating violence means violence by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship and frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Domestic violence: includes, but is not limited to, felony or misdemeanor crimes or crimes of violence committed by the victim’s current or former spouse or intimate partner, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of New York or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of New York.
Gender-based misconduct: Gender-based misconduct includes any misconduct where the victim is targeted because of sex, gender identity or gender expression. Sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence are all forms of gender-based misconduct.
Incapacitation: Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent. The impact of alcohol and other drugs varies from person to person; however, warning signs that a person may be approaching incapacitation may include slurred speech, vomiting, unsteady gait, odor of alcohol, combativeness or emotional volatility.
Intimate-partner violence: Also referred to as dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence, intimate-partner violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, domestic or other intimate relationship with that person. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate-partner violence can encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence and economic abuse. Intimate-partner violence may take the form of threats, assault, property damage or violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate-partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations and does not discriminate by racial, social or economic background.
Investigator: The individual(s) charged with investigating a complaint of sexual or gender-based misconduct. The investigator(s) will typically be members of Campus Safety, the Title IX deputy coordinator and/or members of the Office of Student Conduct. Investigators attend, at a minimum, annual Title IX investigator training.
Ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns: This means programming, initiatives and strategies that are sustained over time and focus on increasing understanding of topics relevant to and skills for addressing dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, using a range of strategies with audiences throughout the institution.
Primary prevention programs: This means programming, initiatives and strategies informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness or outcome that are intended to stop dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking before they occur through the promotion of positive and healthy behaviors that foster healthy, mutually respectful relationships and sexuality, encourage safe bystander intervention and seek to change behavior and social norms in healthy and safe directions.
Privacy: Privacy generally means that information related to a report of misconduct will be shared with a limited circle of individuals who “need to know” in order to assist in the active review, investigation and resolution of the report and related issues. While not bound by confidentiality, these individuals will be discreet and respect the privacy of all individuals involved in the process. Even Skidmore offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain reporting individuals’ privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information provided to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary for the Title IX coordinator or designee to investigate and/or seek a resolution.
Reporting individual: A reporting individual is usually an individual filing a complaint of a violation of the Skidmore College sexual and gender-based misconduct policy. In some cases (e.g., cases in which a person involved in an incident of alleged sexual and/or gender-based misconduct does not wish to participate in the process but the college decides that the alleged misconduct needs to be investigated), Skidmore College may serve as the reporting individual. In these cases, the college may extend the full rights of the reporting individual as defined in this policy to affected parties as deemed appropriate by the Title IX deputy coordinator.
Responding student: A responding student is a student alleged to have violated the Skidmore College sexual and gender-based misconduct policy.
Retaliation: Retaliation against any individual who initiates a sexual and gender-based misconduct complaint, participates in an investigation or pursues legal action is prohibited. Independent action may be taken against anyone engaging in retaliation. Retaliation can take many forms, including continued abuse or violence, threats and intimidation. Any individual or group of individuals, including a reporting individual or responding student, can engage in retaliation and will be held accountable under this policy.
Risk reduction: This means options designed to decrease perpetration and bystander inaction and to increase empowerment for victims in order to promote safety and to help individuals and communities address conditions that facilitate violence.
Sexual assault: Any nonconsensual sexual act prohibited by federal, tribal or New York State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to affirmatively consent. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, sexual penetration and sexual touching, disrobing and/or exposure.
Sexual and gender-based misconduct adjudication panel: The decision about whether there has been a violation of the Skidmore College sexual and gender-based misconduct policy will be made by a panel of three faculty and/or staff members. The panel will be drawn from a pool of staff and faculty who receive specific training regarding the dynamics of sexual and gender-based misconduct, the factors relevant to a determination of credibility, the appropriate manner in which to receive and evaluate sensitive information, the manner of deliberation and the application of the preponderance of the evidence standard, as well as the college’s policies and procedures. The reporting individual and responding student will have the opportunity to state whether there are those they feel should not participate in the panel review due to bias or any other reason that would prevent them from making a fair assessment of the information. The final decision on any such requests for recusal will be made by the conduct administrator in the Office of Student Conduct.
Sexual and gender-based misconduct advisor: The sexual and gender-based misconduct (SGBM) advisor is a Skidmore staff or faculty member, appointed by the dean of students and vice president for student affairs, who is trained to support either the reporting individual or the responding student. The SGBM advisor may assist a student throughout the campus conduct process, including being present at the conduct hearing, but may not speak at the conduct hearing.
Sexual exploitation: Sexual exploitation occurs when a student takes non‐consensual, unfair or abusive advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, even though that behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual or gender-based misconduct offenses.
Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:
- submission to or rejection of such conduct or communication is a term or condition of education benefits, academic evaluations or opportunities;
- submission to such conduct or communication has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education; or
- such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, AND objectively offensive as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment or negatively affects a student’s educational opportunities
Sexual harassment also includes acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on gender or sex stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Allegations against students (including full-time students who are employees) will be resolved according to the procedures in this policy.
Sexual penetration: Any sexual penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object or sexual intercourse, without affirmative consent. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger and oral copulation by mouth-to-genital contact or genital-to-mouth contact.
Sexual touching, disrobing, and/or exposure: Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object without affirmative consent. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other bodily orifice of another or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner. Any disrobing of another or exposure to another by another without affirmative consent.
Stalking: Stalking means a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Survivor: Survivor, used throughout this site, requires elaboration in two areas. First, the word survivor, rather than victim, honors the strength and courage of the women and men who survive sexual, physical and emotional violence. Survival is a physical and emotional process that is experienced differently by each individual and progresses at an individual pace. The word survivor on this site does not connote or imply any legal status, either of an individual or of the encounter s/he experienced. Regardless of legal definitions of rape or sexual assault, or of outcomes of formal internal or external judicial processes, survivor on this site refers to anyone who has suffered a distressing sexual encounter.
Victim advocate: As part of their positions at Skidmore College, these individuals work to support and assist victims of sexual and gender-based misconduct. Students who have experienced sexual and gender-based misconduct can seek help from victim advocates knowing that those staff members will not report identifying details about the incident. This status is not legally protected in the same way that disclosures to mental health, health care providers, or college chaplains are.
Witness: A person or bystander who observes a crime, impending crime, conflict, potentially violent behavior or conduct that is in violation of the Skidmore College sexual and gender-based misconduct policy. Witnesses must have observed the conduct in question or have information directly relevant to the incident (e.g., first told, etc.) and cannot be called solely to speak about an individual’s character.