FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Title IX Process

Sexual Misconduct Policy Definitions and Terminology 

A Complainant is an individual who is reported to have experienced conduct that could constitute Prohibited Conduct, even if they do not participate in any related process.

A Respondent is an individual who has been reported to have engaged in conduct that could constittue Prohibited Conduct.

Witness is an individual who may have information relevant to a report of Prohibited Conduct. A witness may be a student, an employee, or a third party.

Occidental College Prohibited Conduct

In determining whether reported conduct violates the Policy, the College will consider the totality of the facts and circumstances involved in the incident, including the nature of the reported conduct and the context in which it occurred. Individuals of any sex or gender can commit any of the Prohibited Conduct defined in the Policy, and it can occur between individuals of the same sex or gender, or different sexes or genders. It can occur between strangers or acquaintances, as well as persons involved in intimate, sexual, dating, domestic, or familial relationships. The Policy prohibits the following forms of conduct, including attempts to commit the Prohibited Conduct defined below.

Title IX Sexual Harassment
“Title IX Sexual Harassment” is a subset of Prohibited Conduct. Under Department of Education regulations (see 34 C.F.R., Part 106) issued in May 2020 to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the College is required to prohibit certain forms of sexual harassment as defined in those regulations.

Prohibited Conduct meets the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment when:

  • An Employee conditions the provision of an aid, a benefit, or a service on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment), within the United States; or
  • A Student, Employee, or Third Party engages in unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that would be determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies another person equal access to the College’s programs or activities, in the United States; or
  • A Student, Employee, or Third Party engages in Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Sexual and/or Gender-based Stalking as defined below; and
    • The alleged conduct was perpetrated against a person in the United States; and
    • The conduct took place within the College’s programs and activities.

Conduct takes place within the “College’s programs and activities” when that conduct occurs: (1) in a location, at an event, or in a circumstance where the College exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the conduct occurs; or (2) in any building owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by the College. Events that occur off campus or in locations with no connection to the College are unlikely to be considered a College program or activity. Conduct that does not meet this strict definition for Title IX Sexual Harassment is still prohibited by this policy if it otherwise constitutes Prohibited Conduct as further defined below. Prohibited Conduct under the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment will follow the disciplinary resolution procedures outlined in Appendix A of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The following Prohibited Conduct definitions apply for purposes of the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment:

Title IX Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Conduct on the basis of sex by which an employee of the College conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the College on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.

Title IX Severe, Pervasive and Objectively Offensive Sexual Harassment
Conduct on the basis of sex that constitutes unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a student or employee equal access to the College’s education program or activity.

Title IX Sexual Assault
Title IX sexual assault includes rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape, defined as follows:

  • Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral-genital contact of another person without affirmative consent.
  • Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without affirmative consent.
  • 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. Under California law, individuals younger than 18 years of age are legally incapable of giving consent to sexual penetration or contact by an adult (someone 18 years of age or older) who is three or more years older than the individual.

Title IX Domestic Violence
Conduct, on the basis of sex, that constitutes a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed:

  • By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the complainant;
  • By a person with whom the complainant shares a child in common;
  • By a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the complainant as a spouse or intimate partner;
  • By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or
  • By 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 crime of violence occurred.

Title IX Dating Violence
Conduct that constitutes violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on the parties’ statements 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. For the 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.

Title IX Stalking
Conduct on the basis of sex that constitutes a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s 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 respondent 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 complainant.

Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling

Non-Title IX Misconduct

Non-Title IX Misconduct is Prohibited Conduct that falls within the Scope of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and the definitions below but that does not fall within the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment, either due to the nature of the conduct or because it did not reportedly occur within a program or activity of the College in the United States. Non-Title IX Misconduct will follow the disciplinary resolution procedures outlined in Appendix B or Appendix C of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Such conduct is defined as:

Non-Title IX Sexual Harassment
Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature (including sexual battery, sexual violence, and sexual exploitation, as defined below), made by someone in the work or educational setting, under any of the following conditions:

  • Submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic status, or progress; or

  • Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting the individual; or

  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual’s work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or education environment; or

  • Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs, or activities available at or through the educational institution.

Non-Title IX Sexual Violence
Physical sexual acts committed against a person without the person’s affirmative consent. “Physical sexual acts” includes:

Non-Title IX Rape: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any part or object, or oral copulation of a sex organ by another person, without affirmative consent.

Sexual Battery: The intentional touching of another person’s intimate parts without affirmative consent, intentionally causing a person to touch the intimate parts of another without affirmative consent, or using a person’s own intimate part to intentionally touch another person’s body without affirmative consent.

Non-Title IX Stalking
Stalking as defined in the Title IX Stalking definition above that did not reportedly occur in a program or activity of the College in the United States, or that otherwise fits within the definition of stalking but does not fall within the Title IX Stalking definition because the reported conduct is not directed at the alleged victim on the basis of sex.

Non-Title IX Dating Violence
Dating violence as defined in the Title IX Dating Violence definition above that did not reportedly occur in a program or activity of the College in the United States.

Non-Title IX Domestic Violence
Domestic violence as defined in the Title IX Domestic Violence definition above that did not reportedly occur in a program or activity of the College in the United States.

Sexual Exploitation
Taking sexual advantage of another person for the benefit of anyone other than that person without that person’s affirmative consent, including, but not limited to, any of the following acts:

  • The prostituting of another person;

  • The trafficking of another person, defined as the inducement of a person to perform a commercial sex act, or labor or services, through force, fraud, or coercion;

  • The recording of images, including video or photograph, or audio of another person’s sexual activity or intimate parts, without that person’s affirmative consent;

  • The distribution of images, including video or photography, or audio of another person’s sexual activity or intimate parts, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted in the images or audio did not affirmatively consent to the disclosure; and/or

  • The viewing of another person’s sexual activity or intimate parts, in a place where that other person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s affirmative consent, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.

Complicity
Any act that knowingly aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of Prohibited Conduct by another person.

Sex or Gender-Based Discrimination
“Discrimination” on the basis of a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression can take two primary forms:

Disparate Treatment Discrimination: Disparate treatment discrimination is any unlawful distinction, preference, or detriment to an individual as compared to others that is based on an individual’s protected characteristic(s) and that: 1) excludes an individual from participation in; 2) denies the individual benefits of; 3) treats the individual differently; or 4) otherwise adversely affects a term, condition, or benefit of an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a College program or activity.

Disparate Impact Discrimination: Disparate impact discrimination occurs when there is sufficient evidence that policies or practices that are neutral on their face disproportionately exclude or adversely impact persons within a protected class, where the policies or practices are not: (1) job-related and consistent with business necessity (for employees) or (2) necessary to meet an important educational goal (for students). In determining whether a facially-neutral policy or practice has a disparate impact on a protected class, the College will consider whether there are alternative policies or practices that would meet the job requirements, business necessities, and/or education goals without resulting in disparate impact.

Gender-Based Harassment
Harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. To qualify as Gender-Based Harassment, the conduct need not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Gender-based harassment can take two primary forms:

Hostile Environment Harassment: Harassment occurs when verbal, physical, written, electronic, or other conduct based on an individual’s protected characteristic(s) is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or denies that individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational program or activity, employment access, benefits, or opportunities, or other College programs and activities (e.g., campus housing, official College list-servs, College-sponsored platforms), when viewed from both a subjective and objective perspective.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of unwelcome conduct is used, explicitly or implicitly, as the basis for decisions affecting an individual’s education (e.g., admission, academic standing, grades, assignment); employment (e.g., hiring, advancement, assignment); or participation in a College program or activity (e.g., campus housing).

Retaliation
Retaliation includes adverse action taken against a person for making a good faith report of Prohibited Conduct or participating in any proceeding under this Policy. Adverse action includes conduct that threatens, intimidates, harasses, coerces, or that seeks to discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under this Policy. Retaliation can be committed by or against any individual or group of individuals, not just a Complainant or Respondent. Retaliation does not include good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of Prohibited Conduct. Retaliation may be present even where there is a finding of “no responsibility” with respect to the allegations of Prohibited Conduct.

Prohibited Relationships

Prohibited Relationships by Persons in Authority
Sexual or romantic relationships in which one party maintains — and fails to promptly report and discontinue — a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are strictly prohibited.

Romantic or sexual relationships where there is a differential in power or authority produce risks for every member of our community and undermine the professionalism of faculty and supervisors. In either context, the unequal position of the parties presents an inherent element of risk and may raise sexual harassment concerns if one person in the relationship has the actual or apparent authority to supervise, evaluate, counsel, coach, or otherwise make decisions or recommendations as to the other person in connection with their employment or education at the College.

If an individual contemplates beginning, or is involved in, a sexual or romantic relationship with another, over whom the individual holds direct supervisory or evaluative responsibilities, the individual must immediately: (1) discontinue any supervising role or relationship over the other person; and (2) report the circumstances to their supervisor and the Chief Human Resources Officer. Failure to comply with these requirements is a violation of the Policy, and the person in authority could be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment.

Prohibited Relationships with Students
Even if an employee of the College (excluding student employees) does not hold a position of authority over a student, any sexual or romantic relationship between an employee and a student of the College could jeopardize the integrity of the academic and living environment of the Occidental community and damage the student. Therefore, sexual or romantic relationships between an employee and any student of the College are prohibited. A sexual or romantic relationship in violation of this section may result in disciplinary action against the employee, up to and including dismissal. 

Exceptions
Exceptions to these prohibitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Chief Human Resources Officer in consultation with the Civil Rights & Title IX Coordinator and the supervisor(s) of the individual(s) involved. The individual with the power or status advantage in the relationship must request the exception in writing. The Chief Human Resource Officer will respond to the request in writing. Possible exceptions may include: 1) the relationship existed prior to the effective date of the Policy; and/or 2) the relationship existed prior to a change in either partner’s status at the College.