Glossary of Sexual Misconduct Terms

Queensborough Community College

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.

Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.

In order to give consent, one must be of legal age (17 years or older). Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if the individual otherwise cannot consent. 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.

When consent is withdrawn or can longer be given, sexual activity must stop.

Complainant refers to the individual who alleges that she/he has been the subject of sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence, and can be a CUNY student, employee (including all full-time and part-time faculty and staff), or visitor. Under this policy, the alleged incident(s) may have been brought to the college’s attention by someone other than the complainant.

Complaint is an allegation of sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence made under this policy.

Dating, Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, perpetrated by one person against an intimate partner. Such violence may occur in all kinds of intimate relationships, including married couples, people who are dating, couples who live together, people with children in common, same-sex partners, and people who were formerly in a relationship with the person abusing them.

Forcible Touching/Fondling is intentionally touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person without the latter’s consent for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.

Gender-Based Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect an individual’s participation in employment, education or other CUNY activities. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complainant. An example of gender-based harassment would be persistent mocking or disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity.

Managers are employees who have the authority to either (a) make tangible employment decisions with regard to other employees, including the authority to hire, fire, promote, compensate or assign significantly different responsibilities; or (b) make recommendations on tangible employment decisions that are given particular weight. Managers include vice presidents, deans, directors, or other persons with managerial responsibility, including, for purposes of this policy, department chairpersons and executive officers.

Rape and Attempted Rape is the penetration or attempted penetration, no matter how slight, of any body part by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of that person.

Respondent refers to the individual who is alleged to have committed sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence against a CUNY student, employee, or visitor.

Retaliation is adverse treatment of an individual as a result of that individual’s reporting sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence, assisting someone with a report of sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence, or participating in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence report. Adverse treatment includes threats, intimidation and reprisals by either a complainant or respondent or by others such as friends or relatives of either a complainant or respondent.

Sexual Activity is:

  • penetration, however slight, of the vulva or the anus by the penis, hand/fingers or other object;
  • contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus;
  • intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person; or
  • intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing of any other body part, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Sexual Assault is any form of sexual activity that occurs without consent.

Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic and electronic communications or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo);

    or
  2. such conduct is sufficiently serious that it alters the conditions of, or has the effect of substantially interfering with, an individual’s educational or work experience by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment (hostile environment). The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a complainant.

Conduct is considered “unwelcome” if the individual did not request or invite it and considered the conduct to be undesirable or offensive.

While it is not possible to list all circumstances that might constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct that might constitute sexual harassment depending on the totality of the circumstances:

  1. Inappropriate or unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, groping, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual’s body;
  2. Verbal abuse or offensive comments of a sexual nature, including sexual slurs, persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes or anecdotes, degrading words regarding sexuality or gender, suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations;
  3. Visual displays or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; or
  4. Undue and unwanted attention, such as repeated inappropriate flirting, staring, or making sexually suggestive gestures.

For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment also includes acts that violate an individual’s right to privacy in connection with her/his body and/or sexual activity such as:

  1. Recording images (e.g. video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent;
  2. Disseminating images (e.g. video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted in the images or audio did not consent to such disclosure;
  3. Viewing another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s consent.

Sexual Misconduct is sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or sexual violence, as defined in this policy.

Sexual Violence is an umbrella term that includes:

  1. sexual activity without affirmative consent, such as sexual assault rape/attempted rape, and forcible touching/fondling;
  2. dating, domestic and intimate partner violence;
  3. stalking as defined below.

Stalking is intentionally engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person with whom the perpetrator currently has, previously has had, or desires to have, some form of sexual or romantic relationship, that:

  1. is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or
  2. causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or
  3. is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that her/his employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of  appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person's place of employment or business, and the actor was  previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.

Visitor is an individual who is present at a CUNY campus or unit but is not a student or an employee.

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