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Policies & Definitions

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual violence. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or academic environment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

  • discussing sexual activities, using pet names, or using other sexually derogatory words;
  • making sexual comments or jokes about an individual’s body or body parts;
  • touching in a way that makes an individual feel uncomfortable;
  • sexual gestures or displaying of sexually graphic material.

Sexual Violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.  This includes sexual assault.  Examples of person’s incapable of giving consent include:

  • A person who is under the legal age (the statutory age in MA is 16)
  • A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A person who is intellectually disabled or has a disability preventing them from having the capacity to give consent

Sexual Assault is any kind of sexual physical contact (intentional touching of another person on an area of the body generally recognized as private, no matter how slight) that involves any form of coercion, force or lack of consent.  Examples include:

  • Kissing or fondling without consent;
  • Rape;
  • Advancing sexual activity without consent;
  • Ignoring a partner’s objection to sexual activity on one occasion even when consent has been giving in the past; and
  • Engaging in manipulative, threatening and coercive behavior to obtain consent.

Sexual Exploitation is taking sexual advantage of another person for one’s own benefit or to benefit of anyone other than that person without that person’s consent.  Examples of behavior that could rise to the level of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Prostituting another person;
  • Recording, distributing and/or viewing images (i.e. video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, body parts, or nakedness without that persons consent.

Gender-Based Harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a non-sexual nature based on a person’s actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and non-conformity with gender stereotypes

  • persistent ridicule of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity
  • exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity

Domestic and Dating Violence are acts of abusive or coercive behavior (physical, sexual, financial, verbal and/or emotional) used by a perpetrator to gain or exercise control over another, including any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

  • hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pulling hair or other physical misconduct;
  • destroying a roommate’s personal items;
  • exhibiting excessive possessiveness and jealousy;
  • constantly belittling or insulting a partner;
  • checking a roommate’s cell phone or email account without permission;

Stalking is willfully or maliciously engaging in a knowing pattern or conduct, or series of acts over a period of time, directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

  • Following a person; appearing at a person’s home, class, or work;
  • continuing to contact a person after receiving requests not to;
  • leaving written messages, objects, or unwanted gifts;
  • photographing a person; and other threatening, intimidating, or intrusive behavior.
  • any non-consensual communication, telephone calls, voice messages, emails, texts, letters, notes, gifts, or any other communication that are repeated, undesired, and place another person in fear.  This can also involve the use of electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices (often referred to as cyber-stalking).

Discrimination an intentional or unintentional act that adversely affects educational opportunities because of a person’ membership in a protected class or association with a protected class (color, religion, race, national origin, age, disability, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, genetic info, marital status, or veterans status)

Discriminatory Harassment any form of unlawful discrimination including verbal and/or physical conduct based on legally protected characteristics and/or membership in a protected class.


Note: A Title IX violation can occur between people of any gender including female to female, male to male. The examples above are not exhaustive.