Helpful Definitions

See also AD85

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted, inappropriate, or unconsented to.  Any type of Sexual Harassment is prohibited at the University.
Sexual harassment when committed by a student can lead to discipline under the Code of Conduct.  The precise definitions of the Code of Conduct should be reviewed and applied when a student is accused of or commits harassment.  (See Student Code of Conduct).
Sexual Harassment committed by an employee or third party can lead to discipline or corrective action when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a condition for employment, promotion, grades, academic status, or participation in the University’s activities; or

  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic or other decisions affecting an individual; or

  3. Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to substantially interfere with the harassed individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities and opportunities, or creates a hostile or offensive environment for that individual or others.

Sexual Harassment maybe found in a single episode, as well as in persistent behavior.

Sexual Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man.  The victim does not have to be  of the opposite sex.  Sexual Harassment can occur between individuals of the same sex.

  • In the employment arena, the harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee in the workplace.

  • In the academic arena, the harasser or the victim can be a faculty member, a staff member, or a student.

  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone reasonably affected by the offensive conduct.


Discrimination is conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas.  

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and refers to sexual offenses including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual coercion and any other forms of nonconsensual sexual activity.  Sexual misconduct can be committed by strangers, acquaintances and family members, as well as casual and long-term dating partners.

Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, attempted or unwanted sexual activity, such as sexual touching and fondling.  This includes the touching of an unwilling person’s intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast or buttock, or clothing covering them), or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts.


Consent must be informed, freely given and mutual.  If coercion, intimidation, threats or physical force are used there is no consent.  If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that such person cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent: this includes impairment or incapacitation due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious.  Inducement of incapacitation of another with the intent to affect the ability of an individual to consent or refuse to consent to sexual contact almost always, if not always, negates consent.  Silence does not necessarily constitute consent.  Whether a person has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.

Sexual exploitation

Sexual Exploitation includes, but is not limited to, prostituting another person, non-consensual visual or audio recording of sexual activity, non-consensual distribution of photos, images or information of an individual’s sexual activity or intimate body parts, non-consensual voyeurism, coercing someone against their will to engage in sexual activity, or knowingly transmitting sexually transmitted disease (STD) without disclosing STD status.


Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his/her safety or the safety of others, or to suffer emotional distress.  Stalking may include repeatedly following, harassing, threatening, or intimidating another by telephone, mail, electronic communication, social media, or any other action, device or method.

Dating Violence

Dating Violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.  The existence of such a relationship will be based on the length and type of relationship and the frequency of interaction with the persons involved in the relationship.  It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of dating violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence includes crimes of violence committed against a victim by:  (i) a current or former spouse; (ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child; (iii) a person who is or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse; (iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim; or (v) any other person against whom the victim is protected under Pennsylvania’s domestic and family violence laws.  It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of domestic violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.


Retaliation means any adverse action taken by a member of the University faculty, staff, or student body against any individual on the basis of a Good Faith Report made by such individual, or on the basis of such individual’s participation in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry by the University or an Appropriate Authority, or participation in a court proceeding relating to suspected Wrongful Conduct at the University.


Intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, or a series of acts that is severe, persistent or pervasive; and has the effect of doing any of the following: (i) substantially interfering with a student’s education or employee's performance; (ii) creating a threatening environment; or (iii) substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the University.


Any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or that willfully destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any registered student organization.






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Web page last modified May 3, 2016