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SUPERSEDED - General Policy and Procedure

03.004:  Sexual Misconduct

Superseded on October 6, 2015

Current Version

Status:Approved on August 3, 2012Signatures and dates
on archival copy
Effective:30 days after approval 
Initiated by:Laura L. Myers
Executive Director, Office for Institutional Equity
Endorsed by:Pam Benoit
Executive Vice President and Provost
Approved by:Roderick J. McDavis

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I.   Policy

Ohio University prohibits sexual misconduct in any of its employment situations or educational programs and activities.

The Ohio University Sexual Misconduct Policy has been developed to provide a fair process for determining if a violation of this policy occurred, to remediate the effects of conduct that violates this policy, and to provide information to prevent sexual misconduct.

II.   Basis for Policy

For purposes of this policy, "Sexual Misconduct" includes sexual harassment and sexual violence prohibited as unlawful discriminatory conduct under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Ohio Revised Code Section 4112.02.

III.   Policy Application

The rights, responsibilities, and expectations for conduct contained within this policy apply to all aspects of Ohio University's operations and programs, including regional campuses. It applies to all students, employees, volunteers, and agents of Ohio University. It applies to all visitors or guests on campus to the extent that there is an allegation of harassment made by them against university students or employees. If this policy directly contradicts any other policy or procedures related to protected status discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, this policy takes precedence.

Sexual misconduct can occur between any persons associated with the university, e.g., an employee and a supervisor; coworkers; faculty members; a faculty, staff member, or student and a customer, vendor, or contractor; students; or a student and a faculty member; etc. The requirements of this policy are applicable regardless of sexual orientation of persons engaging in sexual activity.

Any person who believes he or she has been harmed by conduct prohibited by this policy may file a complaint with the Office for Institutional Equity. Third parties may file a complaint on behalf of persons whom they believe has been adversely affected by conduct prohibited by this policy.

Sexual misconduct committed against or by an Ohio University student, employee, or agent is prohibited through this policy, through the public criminal justice system, or, depending on the facts and the individuals involved, through the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility or University Human Resources (e.g., under Policy 41.135). An initial choice to use one of these avenues does not preclude a later or simultaneous decision to use one or more of the others.

IV.   Definition of Consent

Consent must be informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent must be clear and unambiguous for each participant throughout any sexual encounter. Consent to some sexual acts does not imply consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act imply ongoing or future consent. Consent can be revoked at any time. For all of these reasons, sexual partners must evaluate consent in an ongoing fashion and should communicate clearly with each other throughout any sexual encounter.

Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement given under such conditions does not constitute consent. In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age.

V.   Definitions of Sexual Misconduct Offenses

Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and is sufficiently severe or pervasive from both a subjective (the complainant's) and an objective (reasonable person's) viewpoint. Sexual harassment occurs under either of two circumstances, as discussed in Subsections A and B, immediately below.

A.   Sexual Harassment by Quid Pro Quo

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's employment or academic status; or

  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such person.

B.   Sexual Harassment by Hostile Environment

  1. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for working, learning, or living on campus.

  2. The determination of whether an environment is "hostile" is often contextual and must be based on the circumstances. These circumstances could include:

    • the frequency of the conduct;

    • the nature and severity of the conduct;

    • relationship between alleged harasser and subject of the alleged harassment;

    • location and context in which the alleged conduct occurs;

    • whether the conduct was physically threatening;

    • whether the conduct was humiliating; or

    • whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct.

  3. A hostile environment could be created by repeated, unwanted, sexually oriented stares (maintaining eye contact is, of course, acceptable).

C.   Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Non‐Consensual Sexual Intercourse is:

  1. vaginal or anal penetration by any body part or foreign object;

  2. oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact);

  3. however slight;

  4. by a man or woman upon a man or a woman;

  5. without consent.

D.   Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Non‐Consensual Sexual Contact is:

  1. intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals;

  2. touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts;

  3. any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with, of, or by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth, or other orifice;

  4. by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman;

  5. without consent.

E.   Sexual Exploitation

Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes non‐consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include:

  1. prostituting another person;

  2. non‐consensual video- or audio‐recording of sexual activity;

  3. going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as permitting others to observe you having consensual sex with someone who is not aware of the observation);

  4. voyeurism;

  5. public indecency (such as exposing your genitals to others without consent);

  6. knowingly exposing another person to a sexually transmitted infection ("STI") or Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV") without prior knowledge and consent of the person to be exposed to STI or HIV;

  7. contact-free coercion (e.g., by threat of violence) causing a person to completely or partially disrobe.

F.   Retaliatory Harassment

Retaliatory Harassment is an adverse action or threat of an adverse action taken in response to an person who makes a protected disclosure under this policy by:

  1. reporting suspected sexual misconduct to a supervisor or appropriate university official;

  2. filing a complaint or lawsuit under federal or state law or university policy that prohibits sexual misconduct; or

  3. participating in an investigation or proceeding under this policy.

VI.   Consensual Relationships

Ohio University does not intrude upon private choices regarding personal relationships when these relationships do not violate the policies of the university, cause harm to the safety and wellbeing of members of campus community, or increase the risk of harm to the safety and wellbeing of members of campus community. Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party retains a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are unethical, create a risk for real or perceived coercion, and are expressly a violation of this policy. Furthermore, the possibility of a future amorous relationship may distort the present instructional or advisory relationship. Therefore, persons with direct supervisory, evaluative, grading, or academic advising responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must bring those relationships to the attention of their supervisor, and will likely result in the necessity to remove the employee from the supervisory, evaluative, grading, or academic advising responsibilities.

VII.   Reporting Guidelines

A.   Duty to Report

Employees with a duty to report violations of this policy include faculty, administrators, coaches, and staff. Graduate assistants and student employees have a duty to report violations of this policy of which they become aware in the course of their duties when these duties include responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of other members of the campus community or if they have supervisory, evaluative, grading, or advisory responsibility over other members of the campus community. Immediately upon learning of potential campus sexual misconduct, any employee with a duty to report violations of this policy who receives a complaint of sexual misconduct or who observes or learns of conduct that is reasonably believed to be in violation of this policy, is required to report the alleged conduct to the Office for Institutional Equity.

In addition to the duty to report sexual misconduct to the Office for Institutional Equity as identified above, in some circumstances there is a duty to report allegations of criminal conduct to law enforcement. Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code § 2921.22) requires every person who knows that a felony has been or is being committed, to report it to law enforcement. It is a criminal offense to knowingly fail to make the report. If you suspect or have knowledge of criminal activity occurring on university property, call the Ohio University Police Department at 740-593-1911 (in an emergency, please dial 911 immediately). Incidents that occur off campus or at a regional campus should be reported to local law enforcement.

B.   Filing a Formal Report of Violation of this Policy

The Office for Institutional Equity serves as the recipient for any formal complaint or report of sexual misconduct. Other offices may handle certain aspects of the university response, such as University Human Resources, Dean of Students office, Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, etc. The Office for Institutional Equity is responsible for investigating complaints of sexual misconduct under this policy, monitoring the response of other campus offices that may respond to complaints of sexual misconduct under this policy and for responding to complaints of retaliation for filing a complaint on the basis of this policy 03.004.

Walk-in or Mail: Office for Institutional Equity
Executive Director - Title IX Coordinator
Ohio University
101 Harry B. Crewson House
Athens, Ohio 45701

C.   Self-Reporting of Sexual Offenses

Persons who are victims or survivors of sexual offenses are encouraged to contact university police. Reporting an assault to university police may not require criminal prosecution; however, it does allow the university to assist and support the victim or survivor.

Within the university, sexual offenses should be reported to:

Ohio University Police Department
Main Campus: 740 593-1911

D.   Confidential Assistance for Victims or Complainants

Ohio University offers some confidential resources for persons who have been affected by sexual misconduct. In most circumstances, these confidential resources do not have a duty to report violations of this policy to Institutional Equity or law enforcement. There should be no expectation that a report to these resources puts Ohio University on notice of a violation of this policy.

The Office of Institutional Equity shall maintain information online listing, discussing, and linking to on-campus confidential resources, as linked from the References subsection, below.

E.   Privacy

Information received in connection with the filing, investigation, and resolution of allegations will be treated as confidential except to the extent it is necessary to disclose information in the course of the investigation, for the purposes of addressing conduct or practices that violate the policy, or when required to do so by law. All persons involved in the process should observe the same standard of discretion and respect for the privacy of persons involved in the process.

If the complaint contains sufficiently detailed information about conduct that may constitute a crime, then the matter will be reported to the Ohio University Police Department.

F.   Cooperation with Investigation

A person with a duty to report will actively provide information in the time and manner deemed necessary and appropriate by the university to conduct the investigation. Failure to cooperate with the investigation process in a timely manner may compromise the university's ability to conduct an investigation and address allegations fully.

If the complaint contains sufficiently detailed information about conduct that would constitute a violation of this policy, the Office for Institutional Equity will exercise due diligence to address the concerns identified with the affected planning unit to the extent possible with available information.

G.   Anonymous Complaints

Anonymous complaints will be accepted; however, Ohio University's ability to obtain additional information may be compromised and the ability to investigate or resolve anonymous complaints may be limited.

H.   Sanctions

A person or group of persons found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary action by the responsible planning unit or office. Discipline may include sanctions up to and including, termination of employment or expulsion from the university. In consultation with the Office for Institutional Equity, responsible planning units will ensure corrective measures intended to end the prohibited conduct and prevent further violation of the policy.

I.   Filing a False Complaint

Intentionally making a false complaint or report of sexual misconduct is prohibited, is a violation of this policy, constitutes misconduct subject to disciplinary action, and is also a crime. The Office for Institutional Equity will refer evidence of intentional false complaints or reports to the Office of Legal Affairs.

J.   Consideration of Classroom and Instructional Settings

The classroom or other instructional setting (e.g., studio, laboratory, office hours) presents special issues because academic freedom protects the expression of ideas, even where the idea or its expression is perceived to be mature, controversial, explicit, graphic, or offensive. Nevertheless, conduct that would otherwise constitute violation of this policy will not be exempt merely because it occurs in an instructional setting. Rather, the investigation will consider the legitimate pedagogical context, and will take into account discipline-specific guidelines for professional practice as defined by the appropriate educational unit.

Accordingly, if the conduct that was the basis for the complaint occurred in an instructional context, broad deference is given to the presentation or discussion in an instructional setting of sexual topics that are mature, controversial, graphic, or explicit shall not be considered sexual harassment even if some persons find these topics subjectively offensive, when there is legitimate pedagogical basis for the presentation.


Proposed revisions of this policy should be reviewed by:

  1. Chief Human Resources Officer

  2. Faculty Senate

  3. Administrative Senate

  4. Classified Senate

  5. Student Senate

  6. Graduate Student Senate

  7. Deans

  8. Chairs and Directors

  9. Chief of the Ohio University Police Department

  10. Director of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility

Forms, References, and History

A.   Forms

The following form is specific to this policy:

  1. The Discrimination and Harassment complaint form is available online through the Office for Institutional Equity website, "How to File a Complaint," at http://www.ohio.edu/equity/affirmative/complaint.cfm.

B.   References

The following items are relevant to this policy:

  1. Confidential Resources are listed, discussed, and linked from Institutional Equity's website, at http://www.ohio.edu/equity/.

  2. Title IX Grievance Procedures are available online, linked through the Office for Institutional Equity website, "Grievance Procedures," at http://www.ohio.edu/equity/titleIX/grievance.cfm.

  3. The Ohio Revised Code is available online, including § 2921.22 and § 4112.02.

  4. Policy 03.006, "Whistle-blowing and Retaliation."

  5. Policy 40.001, "Equal Employment and Educational Opportunity."

  6. Policy 41.135, "Workplace Violence."

C.   History

Draft versions of this policy that were circulated for review, their cover memos, their forms, and Reviewers' comments on them are available on the password-protected Review site, at https://www.ohio.edu/policy2/03-004/.

Prior versions of this policy were approved on:

  • March 27, 2006

  • October 28, 2002

  • November 1, 1994

  • April 1, 1984

  • August 14, 1981

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Dick Piccard revised this page
on May 1, 2013.

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