Situations: Policy Violation or Not?

The following Sexual Misconduct Policy was in place for students of Occidental College until August 24, 2013. Any incident reported during the time the old policy was in place follows the procedures of the old policy. Any incident reported after August 24, 2013 will fall under the current Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Below are some general examples of sexual misconduct policy violations. Those people who are unsure if their encounter may have resulted in a policy violation are welcome to speak to a representative from the Dean of Students Office. Project SAFE is another on-campus resource for students who want to learn more about sexual harassment related topics.

1. Amanda and Bill meet at a party. They spend the evening dancing and getting to know each other. Bill convinces Amanda to come up to his room. From 11:00pm until 3:00am, Bill uses every line he can think of to convince Amanda to have sex with him, but she adamantly refuses. He keeps at her, and begins to question her religious convictions, and accuses her of being "a prude." Finally, it seems to Bill that her resolve is weakening, and he convinces her to give him a "hand job" (hand to genital contact). Amanda would never had done it but for Bill's incessant advances. He feels that he successfully seduced her, and that she wanted to do it all along, but was playing shy and hard to get. Why else would she have come up to his room alone after the party? If she really didn't want it, she could have left. Bill is responsible for violating the college Non-Consensual or Forced Sexual Contact policy. It is likely that a college hearing board would find that the degree and duration of the pressure Bill applied to Amanda are unreasonable. Bill coerced Amanda into performing unwanted sexual touching upon him. Where sexual activity is coerced, it is forced. Consent is not effective when forced. Sex without effective consent is sexual misconduct.

2. Jiang is a junior at the college. Beth is a sophomore. Jiang comes to Beth's dorm room with some mutual friends to watch a movie. Jiang and Beth, who have never met before, are attracted to each other. After the movie, everyone leaves, and Jiang and Beth are alone. They hit it off, and are soon becoming more intimate. They start to make out. Jiang verbally expresses his desire to have sex with Beth. Beth, who was abused by a baby-sitter when she was five, and has not had any sexual relations since, is shocked at how quickly things are progressing. As Jiang takes her by the wrist over to the bed, lays her down, undresses her, and begins to have intercourse with her, Beth has a severe flashback to her childhood trauma. She wants to tell Jiang to stop, but cannot. Beth is stiff and unresponsive during the intercourse. Is this a policy violation? Jiang would be held responsible in this scenario for Non Consensual Sexual Intercourse. It is the duty of the sexual initiator, Jiang, to make sure that he has mutually understandable consent to engage in sex. Though consent need not be verbal, it is the clearest form of consent. Here, Jiang had no verbal or non-verbal mutually understandable indication from Beth that she consented to sexual intercourse. Of course, wherever possible, students should attempt to be as clear as possible as to whether or not sexual contact is desired, but students must be aware that for psychological reasons, or because of alcohol or drug use, one's partner may not be in a position to provide as clear an indication as the policy requires. As the policy makes clear, consent must be actively, not passively, given.

3. Kevin and Amy are at a party. Kevin is not sure how much Amy has been drinking, but he is pretty sure it's a lot. After the party, he walks Amy to her room, and Amy comes on to Kevin, initiating sexual activity. Kevin asks her if she is really up to this, and Amy says yes. Clothes go flying, and they end up in Amy's bed. Suddenly, Amy runs for the bathroom. When she returns, her face is pale, and Kevin thinks she may have thrown up. Amy gets back into bed, and they begin to have sexual intercourse. Kevin is having a good time, though he can't help but notice that Amy seems pretty groggy and passive, and he thinks Amy may have even passed out briefly during the sex, but he does not let that stop him. When Kevin runs into Amy the next day, he thanks her for the wild night. Amy remembers nothing, and decides to make a complaint to the Dean. This is a violation of the Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse Policy. Kevin should have known that Amy was incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision about sex. Even if Amy seemed to consent, Kevin was well aware that Amy had consumed a large amount of alcohol, and Kevin thought Amy was physically ill, and that she passed out during sex. Kevin should be held accountable for taking advantage of Amy in her condition. This is not the level of respectful conduct expected of students.

4. Laura is kicking back at an off-campus party, enjoying some down time and a few drinks with friends. She spies her friend, Taylor, across the room and approaches her from behind, wraps her hands around Taylor’s breasts and gives them a good squeeze, saying "Looking hot tonight, girlfriend."  That's when Laura realizes she's made a mistake, and that while this student looked like her friend Taylor from behind, she has just fondled a perfect stranger.  Not quite sober, Laura says, "Oops my bad. Didn't enjoy it, anyway" and walks away (Sokolow, 2012).

While this behavior is inappropriate, it does not meet the severe and pervasive standard of harassment under Title IX.  If the woman who looked like Taylor was irritated enough to report Laura’s behavior, then the College would speak to Laura about her lack of appropriateness and caution her against such behavior in the future.

Reference: Sokolow, B. (2012, July). ATIXA tip of the week. ATIXA. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from http://atixa.org/resources/tip-of-the-week/#casestudy

Last updated September 19, 2012