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CONSENT is clear, knowing, and voluntary words or actions that give permission for specific sexual activity.  Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.  Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words and actions create mutually understandable permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.  Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.  Consent can be withdrawn once given, as long as that withdrawal is clearly communicated.  Once consent is withdrawn, sexual activity must stop immediately.  In order to give consent, one must be of legal age.  In Massachusetts, the legal age of consent is 16.  Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated by alcohol or another drug or if a person has a mental or intellectual disability. 

DATING VIOLENCE means violence committed by a person

  1. Who is or has been in a social relationship or a romantic of intimate nature with the victim; and
  2. Where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
    • The length of the relationship;
    • The type of relationship
    • The frequency of interactions between the persons involved in the relationship 

For purposes of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.  Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, 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 jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

INCAPACITATION means the physical and/or mental inability, whether temporary or permanent, of an individual to make rational, reasonable decisions or judgments regarding one’s well-being or welfare. States of incapacitation include, but are not limited to, unconsciousness, sleep, and blackouts.  Incapacitation may result from the voluntary or involuntary consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs.  Where alcohol or other substances are involved, incapacitation is determined by how the substance impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed judgments.  For purposes of this Grievance Procedure, a person is NOT incapacitated merely because the person has been drinking or using drugs.  The question of incapacitation is determined on a case-by-case basis using both objective and subjective standards.  In evaluating whether a person was incapacitated from purposes of evaluating effective consent, the University will consider: (1) whether the person initiating the sexual activity knew the other person was incapacitated; and if not (2) whether a reasonable person in the same situation would have known that the other person was incapacitated; and (3) whether the person initiating the sexual activity played a role in creating the circumstances of incapacitation.

SEXUAL ASSAULT is any attempted or actual act directed against another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.  More specifically, sexual assault is any attempted or actual sexual act directed against another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

The following violations constitute sexual assault:

  • RAPE is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. This offense includes the rape of both males and females and regardless of the age of the victim. If the victim consented, the offender did not force or threaten the victim, and the victim was under the statutory age of consent, the act is defined as statutory rape.
  • FONDLING is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because if his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
  • INCEST is sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
  • STATUTORY RAPE is sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT under Title IX means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: 

  1. An employee of the University conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
  2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity; OR
  3. “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 1229 (a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 1229(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 1229(a)(30) as amended.

STALKING means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  • Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; OR
  • Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of this definition:

  • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. 
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