Definitions and Supplemental Definitions

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Discrimination involves unfair treatment of a person or group based on prejudice regarding their personal characteristics. Rider University does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, handicap/disability, age, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, status as a Vietnam-era, qualified disabled veteran or other protected veteran, or status as a member of any other protected class under federal or state law, in employment or in the application, admission, operation, participation, access and treatment of employees and students, in any of the University’s programs and activities as specified by federal law and regulations. Additionally, it is the policy of Rider University to provide an environment for prospective and current students, job applicants, employees and other third parties that is free from harassment and intimidation on account of an individual’s race, creed, color, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, handicap/disability, age, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, status as a Vietnam-era, qualified disabled veteran or other protected veteran, or status as a member of any other protected class under federal or state law.

Harassment is any action that may reasonably be expected to (a) threaten, coerce, or intimidate an individual or a class of individuals or (b) substantially interfere with an individual’s work or education experience. Where the alleged harassment involves a potential violation of federal or state anti-discrimination laws, the University’s Affirmative Action Officer (or designee) will be called upon to investigate the allegations, using procedures outlined in the Policy. Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed either to (1) limit the legitimate exercise of free speech, including but not limited to written, graphic, electronic or verbal expression that can reasonably be demonstrated to serve legitimate education, artistic, or political purposes, or (2) infringe upon the academic freedom of any member of the University community.

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances (including, but not limited to, sexual assault and sexual misconduct), requests for sexual favors, and/or physical, verbal, electronic*, written conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities, or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for decisions pertaining to an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities, or
  • Such speech or conduct is directed against another and is abusive or humiliating and persists after the objection of the person targeted by the speech or conduct, or
  • Such conduct would be regarded by a reasonable person as creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment that substantially interferes with an individual’s work, education, or participation in University programs or activities.

*Electronic refers to communication using/including the Internet, email, text messages, instant messages, photo messages, discussion boards, digital images/ video/audio, blogs or social networking sites.

In the educational setting within the University, as distinct from other work places within the University, wide latitude for professional judgment in determining the appropriate content and presentation of academic material is required. Conduct, including pedagogical techniques, that serves a legitimate educational purpose does not constitute sexual harassment. Those participating in the educational setting bear a responsibility to balance their rights of free expression with a consideration of the reasonable sensitivities of other participants.

Supplemental Definitions

These supplemental definitions are more likely to be relevant in harassment and discrimination cases involving alleged student misconduct, but also will be utilized in cases where employee or third-party misconduct is alleged, when appropriate. These supplemental definitions will be used during the Formal Hearing stage to determine charges and sanctions.

Advisor is a person chosen by each of the Complainant and Responding Party who is permitted to accompany the Complainant and Responding Party respectively to any meeting or disciplinary proceeding (including, but not limited to, fact finding investigations, formal or informal meetings, hearings and/or mediation sessions). An advisor is an individual (friend, parent, attorney or anyone else) who provides the Complainant and Responding Party respectively with support, guidance or advice. The advisor is not permitted to be an active participant in meetings or disciplinary proceedings. It is the responsibility of the Complainant and Responding Party to provide notice of meetings or disciplinary proceedings to their respective advisor. Meetings and/or disciplinary proceedings generally will not be canceled or delayed because an advisor could not be present. However, reasonable requests to reschedule based on compelling circumstances may be considered.

Complainant is anyone who submits a report alleging that an individual violated the Policy and/or anyone who is alleged to have been the subject of a violation of the Policy. Oftentimes the individual submitting the report and the individual who is the subject of the violation are the same. In instances where the subject of the violation is different from the individual submitting the charge, both individuals will have the same rights afforded to the Complainant under the Policy. The University may initiate an investigation in cases where a Complainant chooses not to move forward or participate in the process, but the University decides to move forward with an investigation and/or disciplinary action because it has information that raises concerns regarding the safety and welfare of the Complainant and/or campus communities. Factors that may be considered but are not limited to, the following: the increased risk that the Responding Party will commit additional acts of sexual or other violence; whether a weapon is involved; whether the individual(s) targeted by the alleged behavior is a minor; and/or whether the Complainant’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration by the Responding Party. Both the Complainant and Responding Party will be notified of such a decision by the University.

Responding Party is anyone who is alleged to have violated the Policy.

Third Party is anyone who is not a student or employee of the University (e.g., vendors, alumni/ae, guests, contracted employees).

Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexually explicit touching or sexual penetration. Consent is active, not passive, and must be informed and freely and actively given. Coercion, force or threat of coercion or force invalidates consent.

It is incumbent upon the individuals involved in the activity to obtain consent prior to any sexual activity, and again, prior to sexual penetration. If at any time during the sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon the individuals involved in the activity to stop and clarify, verbally, the other’s willingness to continue.

  • A verbal “no,” even if it may sound indecisive or insincere, constitutes lack of consent.
  • When consent is requested verbally, absence of any explicit verbal response constitutes lack of consent.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time. But it is expected that, after consent has been established, a person who changes their mind during the sexual activity will communicate through words or actions, their decision to no longer proceed.
  • Consent can be conditional. For example, a person may consent to sexual activity only if a safer sex product (i.e. internal or external condom) is used. If the other person removes the safer sex product and wishes to continue the sexual activity, they would need to ask before continuing since consent was only previously given for sexual activity with a safer sex product.
  • Past consent to sexual activity does not imply future ongoing consent, and the fact that two persons reside together or are in an on-going relationship does not preclude the possibility that sexual misconduct or sexual assault might occur within that relationship.
  • A person who is asleep, incapacitated, or is not reasonably capable of assessing the situation and surrounding circumstances, whether due to the effect of drugs, alcohol, or for any other reason, is not capable of giving valid consent. Consent is not valid if a reasonable person would understand that such a person is incapable of giving consent.
  • A person’s use of alcohol, other drugs, and/or other intoxicants does not diminish their responsibility to obtain informed and freely given consent.

Sexual Exploitation is any act committed by an individual(s) that violates the sexual privacy of another or takes unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another who has not provided consent, and that does not constitute sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: voyeurism, recording, photographing, transmitting, viewing, or distributing intimate or sexual image or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

Intimate Partner Violence includes dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence and occurs when an individual(s) threatens, intimidates, or commits an act of violence against a current or former intimate partner. Dating violence means 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 Complainant’s statement, taking into consideration, (i) the length of the relationship, (ii) the type of relationship, and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Domestic violence is committed by a current or former spouse, a sexual or intimate partner, a person who is living as a spouse or who lived as a spouse with the alleged victim, parents or children, other persons related by blood or marriage, or a person with whom the alleged victim shares a child in common. For purposes of clarity, to constitute Intimate Partner Violence, the relationship must be more than just two people living together as roommates.

Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal personal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression refers to the way an individual communicates gender identity to others through outward presentation and behavior. This includes, but is not limited to: clothing, hairstyle, voice, and body characteristics.

Hostile Environment exists when sexual harassment (including all forms of sexual violence) is sufficiently serve, or persistent, or pervasive, and objectively offensive to limit or deny a member of the University community the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational or employment programs or activities.

Sexual Assault occurs when an unwelcomed physical contact of a sexual nature is intentional and is committed either by (a) physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation; (b) ignoring the objections of another person; (c) causing another’s intoxication or impairment through the use of drugs or alcohol; or (d) taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation, state of intimidation, helplessness, or other inability to provide consent. For purposes of the University’s annual security report, a sexual assault is an offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape as used in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.

Sexual Misconduct occurs when the act is committed without the intent to harm another and where, by failing to correctly assess the circumstances, a person believes unreasonably that consent was given without having met his/her responsibility to gain such consent. Situations involving physical force, violence, threat or intimidation fall under the definition of Sexual Assault, not Sexual Misconduct, and will be treated as such under these procedures.

Stalking occurs when an individual engages in 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. “Substantial emotional distress” under this policy is defined as significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. A “course of conduct” under this policy is defined as 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.