Title IX Definitions

Active: consent must take the form of clearly understandable words or actions that reveal one's expectations and agreement to engage in specific sexual activity. This means that silence, passivity, submission or the lack of verbal or physical resistance (including the lack of a "no") should not- in and of themselves- be understood as consent. Consent cannot be inferred by an individual’s manner of dress, the giving or acceptance of gifts, the extension or acceptance of an invitation to go to a private room or location, or going on a date.

Anonymous Complaint: is one where the identity of the Claimant is not known.  

Claimant: the student, employee, or third party who alleges they have been subjected to a form of sexual misconduct​ (i.e. the victim/survivor​).

Confidential Complaint: is one where the name of the Claimant is known, but does not want to file a complaint, pursue an investigation or to have their identity known.

Consent: a clear, unambiguous, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to knowingly engage in sexual activity. Consent must be mutually understandable by words or actions (i.e. a reasonable person would consider the words or actions to indicate mutual agreement to engage in the sexual activity). Consent is active and cannot be based on the absence of an affirmative statement or act of denial. Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent.

Seeking and receiving consent is the responsibility of the person(s) initiating the sexual act or acts regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not in and of itself constitute consent to any other sexual act.

Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated (including, but not limited to, a person or someone with a physical or mental disability and/or level of intoxication that causes impairment resulting in incapacitation. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm. The university prohibits any sexual activity that does not involve the consent of each individual.

Consent must be given to engage in the act of sexual activity, and consent should also be given to any person who records or photographs any aspect of the sexual encounter as well as third parties who wish to view the sexual activity either in person or via any electronic equipment, methods, or devices. Any of these acts will be deemed to be sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:

  • Sexual voyeurism or allowing others to witness or observe the sexual or intimate activity of another person without that person’s full knowledge and consent;
  • Indecent or lewd exposure or inducing another person to expose themselves when consent is not present;
  • Recording any person engaged in sexual or intimate activity in a private space without that person’s full knowledge and consent, even if the person recording the sexual or intimate activity is also engaged in the consented to sexual activity;
  • Distributing sexual or intimate information, images, or recordings about another person without that person’s full knowledge and consent;
  • Recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining another person for the purpose of sexual exploitation;
  • Inducing incapacitation in another person with the intent to engage in sexual conduct, regardless of whether prohibited sexual conduct actually occurs.

The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Dating Violence: (1) Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. 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. Any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime.

(2) Threatening to use physical, mental, or emotional abuse to control another person who is in a dating relationship with the person

(3) The existence of a dating relationship in 1 or 2 above shall be determined based on the reporting party’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.

Domestic Violence: (1) A felony or misdemeanor crime 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 in which the crime of violence occurred; by any other 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 in which the crime of violence occurred.

(2) Physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation of a family or household member, which includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, and persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child.

Force: the use of physical violence and/or otherwise physically imposing on another person to gain sexual access. Also includes threats, intimidation, implied threats, and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent.

Gender-based Harassment or Discrimination: acts of a verbal or nonverbal nature or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based upon sex/gender or sex/gender-stereotyping (even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature) that is sufficiently serious to limit or deny the ability to participate in or benefit from the university's programs and activities or the terms and conditions of employment. Example: the repeated sabotaging of female graduate students' laboratory experiments by male students in the class.

Incapacitation: physical or mental impairment due to drugs or alcohol (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary); the lack of consciousness or being asleep; being involuntarily restrained; if any of the parties are under the age of 17; or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Generally, an incapacitated individual is incapable of recognizing what is occurring and is not able to recognize the nature of sexual activity or the extent of a sexual situation;

Intoxication: when alcohol is involved, a person can be incapacitated due to intoxication. Some ways in which a person can be incapacitated as a result of alcohol use may include, but are not limited to, lack of control over physical movements, lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings, or the inability to communicate for any reason. The individual may experience a blackout state in which they appear to be giving consent but does not actually have conscious awareness or the ability to consent. Therefore, individuals who engage in sexual activity of any kind must be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication;

Knowingly: Consent must demonstrate that all individuals understand, are aware of, and agree to the "who" (same partners), "what" (same acts), "where" (same location), "when" (same time), and "how" (the same way and under the same conditions) of the sexual activity.

Physical and Mental Disability: “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities of an individual, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. This also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions." (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Rape: 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.

Resolution Officer: a representative from the Office of Student Conduct or Human Resource Services who will be appointed to administer sanctions.  

Respondent: the person alleged to have to have engaged in a form of sexual based misconduct​. (i.e. the alleged offender/perpetrator/accused​)

Responsible Employee: is any employee who:

  • Has the authority to take action to redress sexual violence;
  • Has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students; or
  • Anyone a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.  

Result: any initial, interim, and final decision by any official or entity authorized to resolve disciplinary matters within the institution.  The result must include any sanctions imposed by the institution.

Retaliation: taking any adverse or hostile act, engaging in harassment and/or making an adverse employment/academic decision because an employee/student/third party has opposed violations of the NIU Title IX Policy or other unlawful employment/academic practices by filing a complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.  Respondents are also protected from Retaliation.

Sexual Assault: (1) any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal or Illinois law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent. An offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape; or 

(2) an act of sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force; or

(3) an act of sexual penetration and the respondent knew that the claimant was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent; or

(4) an act of sexual penetration with a claimant who was under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the respondent was a family member; or

(5) an act of sexual penetration with a claimant who was at least 13 years of age but less than 18 years of age when the act was committed and the respondent was 17 years of age or over and held a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the claimant.

Sex Discrimination: treating a person differently because of their sex in the terms and conditions of educational programs, activities, and/or employment; Example: A professor requires all male students in a class to do an extra assignment that is not required of female students.

Sexual Exploitation: taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for your own benefit.

Sexual Harassment: unwelcome, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature (such as sexual advances or requests for sexual favors) sufficiently serious that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a person's ability to participate in or benefit from the university's educational programs, activities, and/or employment. Sexual harassment may be based on a power differential, the creation of a hostile environment (reasonably severe conduct that is sufficiently pervasive to have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with work or educational performance, or creating an  intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment) , or retaliation.

The two types of sexual harassment are known as Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment. Quid Pro Quo is the Latin term for “this for that” and occurs when there is a demand for a sexual favor in exchange for some employment/academic benefit.  Sexual harassment in the form of a hostile work and/or academic environment occurs when the harassing behavior unreasonably interferes with the employee/student work/academic performance and/or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work/academic environment.

  • In order for the conduct to be considered sexual harassment, the behavior must be:
  • Unwanted and/or unwelcome;
  • Sexual in nature and/or related to the sex or gender of the employee/student;

Sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of the employee/student employment or academic environment (when describing sexual harassment resulting from a hostile work/academic environment).

Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A professor insists that a student have sex with him/her in exchange for a good grade;
  • A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes in an email list they created, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on campus and in the residence hall in which they both live;
  • A professor demands that students discuss their past sexual experiences, yet the conversation is not in any way germane to the class;
  • A staff member repeatedly touches and makes sexually suggestive remarks to a student while the two are waiting at a stop for the school's shuttle bus, causing the student to walk long distances instead of taking the shuttle bus;
  • One instance of rape and/or other acts of Sexual Violence;

Sexual Harassment also includes harassment of a sexual nature directed at gay or lesbian persons that is sufficiently serious to limit or deny the ability to participate in or benefit from the university's educational and employment programs. Likewise, sexual harassment can occur where Claimant and Respondent are members of the same sex. Example: a male student or a group of male students target a gay student for physical sexual advances.

Stalking may also be a form of sexual harassment.  For more information regarding sexual harassment, please consult the NIU Title IX Policy.

Sexual Misconduct: one or more acts of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking or gender-based harassment or discrimination.   Sexual misconduct can occur among, between or to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Sexual Penetration: any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person.  Includes,but not limited to, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal penetration.

Sexual Violence: nonconsensual sexual acts:  physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the Claimant's age, use of drugs or alcohol, or a disability that prevents the Claimant from having the capacity to give consent). Conduct will be deemed sexual violence whether obtained by force or threat of force and whether completed or attempted. Sexual exploitation (taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for your own benefit) may also be considered a form of sexual violence, depending on the circumstances.  Examples: Rape, Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse

Stalking: (1) 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: (i) 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; (ii) Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim; (iii) Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling;  (iv) Any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting; or

(2) (A) Knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions, following another person or placing the person under surveillance or any combination thereof and (i) at any time transmitting a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person, or (ii) places that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint to or of that person or a family member of that person; or (B) when, having been previously convicted of stalking another person, knowingly and without lawful justification on one occasion, (i) follows that same person or places that same person under surveillance; and (ii) transmits a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint to that person or a family member of that person.

(3) Stalking may be accomplished by physical act or electronic means, such as computer or cell phone.

Title IX Coordinator: the role of the Title IX Coordinator is to manage, implement and administer NIU’s procedures which prohibit discrimination including enforcement procedures for resolving Title IX complaint, Title IX training programs and ensuring the prompt and appropriate resolution of Title IX complaints.

Sarah Garner
Altgeld Hall 238A
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

Voluntary: Consent must be freely given and cannot be the result of force (violence, physical restraint, or the presence of a weapon), threats (indications of intent to harm, whether direct or indirect), intimidation (extortion, menacing behavior, bullying), coercion (undue pressure) or fraud (misrepresentation or material omission about oneself or the situation in order to gain permission for sexual or intimate activity).

Voyeurism: the condition of one who derives sexual satisfaction from observing the sexual organs or acts of others, generally from a secret vantage point.