Glossary of Terms
In order to clarify the Title IX investigation process, we have assembled a glossary of Title IX terms. If you have further questions about these terms or the Title IX process, please contact our Title IX Coordinator.
Prohibited Conduct under this Rule includes discrimination, harassment (including non-consensual sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating abuse/violence, domestic abuse/violence, stalking, sexual or gender-based harassment), complicity, and retaliation.
Discrimination: Inequitable treatment of a person based on one or more of that person’s protected characteristics or statuses, excepting any treatment permitted or required by law.
Harassment: Unwelcome conduct (which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical or otherwise) directed against a person based on one or more of that person’s protected characteristics or statuses when one or more of the conditions outlined in (1), (2), or (3) are present.
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of a person’s instruction, academic standing, employment, or participation in any University program, activity, or benefit.
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions.
- Such conduct creates a hostile environment. A hostile environment exists when conduct based on a legally protected class is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create a work, educational, or campus living environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating or abusive. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all of the circumstances, which may include the frequency of the conduct, the nature and severity of the conduct, whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating, and the mental or emotional effect of the conduct on the individual(s) subjected to the alleged harassment. An intimidating or abusive environment exists when the conduct interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from the University’s educational, employment, and/or campus-residential experience (including participation in University programs, activities, or benefits) based on both a subjective and objective standard.
Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Harassment
Sexual Harassment, Gender-based Harassment, and Sex-based Misconduct are forms of harassment:
Sexual Harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create a work, educational, or campus living environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating or abusive.. Sexual harassment may be quid pro quo (“this for that”) or may constitute a hostile environment. Sexual harassment includes non-consensual sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating abuse/violence, and domestic abuse/violence when based on sex.
Gender-based Harassment: harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender stereotyping, or gender expression, when one of the three conditions outlined in the definition of harassment above is present.
Discrimination and Sexual harassment are prohibited regardless of the gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender stereotyping or sex of any of the parties.
Sex-based Misconduct: unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create a work, educational, or campus living environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, abusive, or offensive. May also include allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking based on sex that are dismissed from the Title IX processes.
Sexual Assault is any of the following acts:
Rape: 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 Complainant. Attempts to commit rape are also included in this definition; however, statutory rape and incest are excluded.
Fondling: intentionally touching of the private body parts of another person without consent. Fondling may be over or under clothing, and may include the Respondent touching the Complainant, the Respondent making the Complainant touch the Respondent or another person, or the Respondent making the Complainant touch the Complainant’s own body.
Incest: occurs between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law. It includes 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.
Intentionally or knowingly causing:
- penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
- penetration of the mouth of a child with a sexual organ
- the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person
- the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person
- The mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person.
For the purposes of this definition only: “Child” means a person younger than 17 years of age. It is an affirmative defense to statutory rape if the actor was the spouse of the child at the time of the act or if the actor was not more than three years older than the child at the time of the act.
Includes any act of violence, attempted violence, or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are involved or have been involved in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, including a sexual or dating relationship. Dating Abuse/Violence may also include acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property of the Complainant.
Dating Abuse/Violence may also include any form of prohibited conduct under this policy, including sexual assault and stalking, as well as any form of physical abuse of others. Dating Abuse/Violence may also include forms of economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate someone.
The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on the Complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Dating Abuse/Violence does not include acts covered under the definition of Domestic Abuse/Violence.
Includes any act of violence, attempted violence, or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are:
(a) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant;
(b) a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common;
(c) a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner;
(d) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the abuse/violence occurred; or
(e) any other person against an adult or youth Complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the abuse/ violence occurred.
Domestic Abuse/Violence may also include any form of prohibited conduct under this policy, including sexual assault and stalking, as well as any form of physical abuse of others. Domestic Abuse/Violence may also include forms of economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate someone. Domestic Abuse/Violence may also include acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property of the Complainant.
Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:
(a) fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
(b) suffer substantial emotional distress.
For the purposes of this definition only:
(a) 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.
(b) Reasonable person means an ordinary person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
(c) Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
Acts that together constitute stalking may be direct actions or may be indirect actions (i.e., communicated through a third party), and can include but are not limited to, threats of harm to self, others, or property; pursuing or following; non-consensual (unwanted) communication by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; and surveillance or other related types of observation. Stalking also includes cyber-stalking through electronic media, like the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, or text messages.
Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. For example, sexual exploitation could include such actions as secretly videotaping sexual activity, voyeurism, invasion of sexual privacy, exposing one’s genitals or anus or causing another to expose one’s genitals or anus, and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection to another person.
Acts or words taken against an individual or group of individuals for participating in a protected activity. Protected activity includes making a good faith report under this policy; filing an external complaint; participating in proceedings under this policy; or opposing in a reasonable manner and consistent with University policy an action reasonably believed to constitute a violation of this policy. Retaliation does not include good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report. Violation of a supportive, interim, protective, or administrative measure may be considered retaliation.
Any act that knowingly aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of prohibited conduct by another person.
The use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice, seduce, or attract another person to engage in sexual contact. When a person makes clear that they do not wish to participate in a particular activity or communicates by words or actions a decision to stop or a decision not to go beyond a certain interaction, continued pressure can be coercive.
In evaluating whether coercion was used, the University will consider: (i) the frequency of the application of the pressure, (ii) the intensity of the pressure, (iii) the degree of isolation of the person being pressured, and (iv) the duration of the pressure. Coercion can be verbal, non-verbal, or physical in nature.
In accordance with state and federal laws, the University has designated certain individuals who have the ability to have privileged communications as “Confidential Employees”Confidential Employees include, but are not limited to licensed healthcare providers and professional psychologists/counselors who are acting as medical, healthcare or mental health providers at the time a disclosure is received.
When an individual shares information with a Confidential Employee, the Confidential Employee will not reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. For example, information revealed to a Confidential Employee will not be disclosed in court or to the opposing party’s attorney absent a law or court order permitting such disclosure. However, such information could be disclosed when: (i) the individual gives written consent for its disclosure; (ii) there is a concern that the individual will likely cause serious physical harm to self or others; or (iii) the information concerns conduct involving suspected abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, the disabled, or the elderly.
A person who is identified as the person who has allegedly experienced Prohibited Conduct.
Clear, voluntary, and ongoing agreement to engage in a specific sexual act. Persons need not verbalize their consent to engage in a sexual act for there to be permission. Consent to engage in a sexual act may be indicated through physical actions rather than words. A person who was asleep or mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effect of alcohol or other drugs or for any other reason, or whose agreement was made under duress or by threat, coercion, or force, cannot give consent.
In evaluating whether consent has been freely sought and given, the University will consider the presence of any force, threat of force, threats, or coercion; whether the Complainant had the capacity to give consent; and, whether the communication (through words and/or actions) between the parties would be interpreted by a reasonable person (under similar circumstances and with similar identities) as a willingness to engage in a particular act.
Important points regarding consent include:
- Consent to one act does not constitute consent to another act.
- Consent on a prior occasion does not constitute consent on a subsequent occasion.
- Consent to an act with one person does not constitute consent to an act with any other person.
- The existence of a prior or current relationship does not, in itself, constitute consent; even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent.
- Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time; the act must cease immediately once consent is withdrawn.
- Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance. Relying on nonverbal communication alone may result in a violation of this policy.
Under Texas law, an individual younger than 17 years of age is legally incapable of giving consent to sexual penetration or sexual contact by a non-spouse who is more than three years older than the individual. (See Texas Penal Code 22.011 for more information)
Unwelcome or unprofessional conduct that does not meet the definition of “prohibited conduct” as defined in this rule.
The inability (temporarily or permanently) to give consent because 1) the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, either voluntarily or involuntarily; or 2) the individual is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unaware that the activity is occurring. In addition, individuals are incapacitated if they demonstrate that they are unaware at the time of the incident of where they are, how they got there, or why or how they became engaged in an act.
Additional guidance regarding incapacitation:
The use of alcohol or other drugs can lower inhibitions and create an atmosphere of confusion about whether consent is effectively sought and freely given. When alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. When drug use is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond being under the influence or impaired by use of the drug. Alcohol and other drugs impact each individual differently and determining whether an individual is incapacitated requires an individualized assessment.
An individual’s level of intoxication may change over a period of time based on a variety of subjective factors, including the amount of substance intake, speed of intake, body mass, and metabolism. Because the impact of alcohol and other drugs varies from person to person, the amount of alcohol and/or drugs a person consumes will not ordinarily be sufficient, without other evidence, to prove that they were incapacitated under this Policy.
Another effect of alcohol consumption can be memory impairment or forgetting entire or partial events (sometimes referred to as “black- out” or “brown-out”). A person may experience this symptom while appearing to be functioning “normally,” including communicating through actions or words that seem to express an interest in engaging in sexual conduct. Whether sexual conduct with a person who is “blacked-out” constitutes prohibited conduct depends on the presence or absence of the observable factors indicating that a person is also incapacitated, as described above. Total or partial loss of memory, without more, is insufficient to demonstrate incapacitation.
In evaluating consent in cases of reported incapacitation, the University asks two questions: (1) Did the Respondent know that the Complainant was incapacitated? and if not, (2) Would a reasonable person who is not intoxicated and who is in a similar set of circumstances as the Respondent have known that the Complainant was incapacitated? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then the Complainant was incapacitated and unable to consent.
A Respondent’s voluntary intoxication is never an excuse for or a defense to prohibited conduct, and it does not diminish the Respondent’s responsibility to determine that the other person has given consent and has the capacity to do so.
A Complainant or a Respondent.
Means that information related to a report of Prohibited Conduct will be shared in accordance with state and federal law. In addition, information may also be shared with a limited circle of University employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the receipt, investigation, and resolution of the report. All employees who are involved in the University’s response to reports of Prohibited Conduct will receive specific training and guidance about safeguarding private information in accordance with state and federal law.
Breast, buttocks, groin, and genitals.
An intent to engage in an acts prior to its occurrence, demonstrating premeditation, planning or forethought. Predation is reflected in communicated intent (physical, verbal, visual, or written), threats directed at a party, attempts to incapacitate a party, attempts to isolate a party, utilizing violence, or other actions that a reasonable person would construe as a pre-meditation to engage in actions that are unwanted by/against the recipient. Committing any of these actions with an individual under the age of consent is also considered predatory.
Race, color, sex, gender identity, age, religion, disability, national origin, immigration status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or veteran status.
An ordinary person in a similar situation.
An individual who observes, experiences, or was made aware of an alleged act of Prohibited Conduct and who provides an initial oral or written account of the Prohibited Conduct to the University.
An individual who is alleged to have committed an act of Prohibited Conduct under this Rule.
As used throughout this Rule, “University” refers to Texas A&M University, including its branch campuses in Galveston and Qatar; and other satellite locations of Texas A&M University.
Means that an individual did not request or invite it and considers the conduct to be undesirable or offensive. Submission to the conduct or failure to complain does not always mean that the conduct was welcome.