Related 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: One where the identity of the claimant is not known.

Claimant: Refers to the victim; a person who has been subjected to any of the conduct prohibited by this policy and/or a person who files a formal complaint.

Coercion: The use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice or attract another person to have sex. When a person makes clear a decision not to participate in a particular sexual act, a decision to stop or a decision to not go beyond a certain sexual interaction, continued pressure can be coercive. In evaluating whether coercion was used, the following factors will be considered; the frequency of the application of the pressure, the intensity of the pressure, the degree of isolation of the person being pressured and the duration of the pressure.

Consent: Clear, unambiguous, informed, voluntary and freely given 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 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 to engage in sexual activity with one person does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity with another.

Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.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), asleep, unconscious or underage. 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 must 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.

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

Employee: Person that receives compensation from the university for services performed. This includes civil service staff, supportive professional staff, faculty, instructors, graduate/teaching/research assistants, extra help, and student employees.

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

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. If a person is known or reasonably should be known to be incapacitated, then any sexual activity with that person is without consent.

Generally, an incapacitated individual is incapable of recognizing what is occurring and is not able to recognize the nature of the sexual activity or the extent of a sexual situation. Some ways in which a person can be incapacitated as a result of alcohol use may include but is 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.

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 or 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.)

Proceeding: All activities related to a noncriminal resolution of an institutional disciplinary complaint, including, but not limited to, fact-finding investigations, formal or informal meetings and hearings. The proceeding does not include communications and meetings between officials and victims concerning accommodations or protective measures to be provided to a victim.

Reasonable Person: Person under similar circumstances with similar identities.

Resolution Officer: A representative from Student Conduct who will be appointed to facilitate the sanctioning process. 

Respondent: The alleged offender/accused; a person alleged to have engaged in any of the conduct prohibited by this policy.

Responsible Employee: 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.
  • Anyone a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

Result: Any initial, interim or 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.

Sanction by Agreement: A proposed resolution agreement between the university and the respondent, informed by input from the respondent, the claimant and the university. There shall be no appeal of a Sanction by Agreement.

Sanction by Decision (for employees and third parties only): The division head or designee will either adopt the proposed resolution agreement and impose the sanctions therein or modify the sanctions as needed.

Sanction by Hearing (for students only): A hearing officer shall, at the conclusion of a hearing, impose appropriate sanction(s) as provided herein.

Sexual Misconduct: Umbrella term for one or more acts as defined as a violation of this policy. Sexual misconduct can occur among, between or to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Student: Person admitted to the university and/or enrolled in any course (for credit or not for credit), or who is on campus for the purpose of enrolling in any course at the time of the alleged incident.

Title IX Coordinator: Manages, implements and administers NIU's procedures which prohibit discrimination, including enforcement of Title IX complaint procedures, Title IX training programs and ensuring the prompt and appropriate resolution of Title IX complaints.

NIU's Title IX coordinator is Sarah Garner, Ethics and Compliance Office, Health Services Building 230, 815-753-5560, titleixcoordinator@niu.edu.

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).

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