Definitions

Awareness programs are community-wide and audience specific programming, initiatives, and strategies that increase audience knowledge and share information and resources to prevent violence, promote safety, and reduce perpetration.

Bystander interventions are safe and positive options that may be carried out by an individual or individuals to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This includes recognizing situations of potential harm and understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate violence, overcoming barriers to intervening, identifying safe and effective intervention options, and taking actions to intervene.

Consent is clear permission to engage in sexual activity, given knowingly and voluntarily, by words or action.

  • While consent may be expressed by words or by actions, it is highly recommended that consent be expressed and obtained verbally. Nonverbal consent expressed through actions may lead to confusion and potential for misunderstandings.
  • If consent is not clearly provided prior to engaging in the activity, consent may be ratified by word or action at some point during the interaction or thereafter, but clear communication prior to engaging in the activity is highly recommended. Interim
  • For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Reasonable reciprocation can be implied. For example, if someone kisses you, you can kiss them back (if you want to) without the need to explicitly obtain their consent to being kissed back.
  • A lack of resistance does not grant consent.
  • Previous consent does not grant consent to future sexual acts.
  • Consent to some sexual acts cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual acts.
  • A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.

Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease within a reasonable time.

It is the responsibility of the initiator of any sexual activity to obtain their potential partner’s consent; however, proof of consent or non-consent is not a burden placed on either party involved in an incident. The University must determine whether a policy has been violated based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. 

Consent to a sexual act is not freely given if the consent is obtained by force or coercion.

  • Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent. Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but nonconsensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent.
  • “Coercion” is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on multiple factors, including the type or extent of pressure used. If a person makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activities or that they want to stop, continued pressure beyond that point may constitute coercion.

Incapacitation: A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious, for any reason, including by alcohol or other drugs. Therefore, in situations when the Respondent knew or should have known that the Complainant is physically or mentally incapacitated, any “consent” obtained is invalid. “Should have known” is an objective, reasonable person standard that assumes that a reasonable person is both sober and exercising sound judgment. Incapacitation is based on the totality of the circumstances and all relevant indicator’s of an individual’s state of mind. Situations wherein an individual is deemed to have an inability to give consent in situations where the individual is include:

  • Incapacitated due to alcohol, drugs, or other substances including, but not limited to, prescription medications;
    • Determining consent when alcohol or other drugs are involved: In incidents involving alcohol, drugs, or other substances, the totality of the circumstances is analyzed to determine whether the use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances caused an inability make rational, reasonable decisions about sex activity. Whether a Respondent knew or reasonably should have known of the Complainant’s inability to give knowing consent is an element of the policy violation. An individual’s use of alcohol or drugs does not diminish that individual’s responsibility to obtain consent if that individual is the one who initiates sexual activity. Incapacitation differs from drunkenness or intoxication. Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because they lack the capacity to make informed judgments about the situation.
    • Some factors considered to determine whether an individual is incapacitated due to alcohol, drugs, or other substances and therefore not able to give consent include, but are not limited to:
      • whether the individual was conscious or unconscious,
      • whether the individual became sick due to intoxication,
      • the individual’s ability to communicate and/or slurred speech,
      • the individual’s coordination (ex. ability to walk, dress/undress, perform simple tasks),
      • and any other action that would be indicative of a level of cognitive functioning.
    • The existence of any one of these factors may support a finding of incapacitation for purposes of this policy. The mere presence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances does not equate to an inability to give consent. Stated differently, it is possible for an individual to have alcohol, drugs, or other substances in their system and not be incapacitated.
  • Unconscious, asleep, or in a state of shock.
  • Under the age of consent as defined by the jurisdiction in which the act occurred, which, in Alabama, is less than 16 years of age. 
  • Mentally or physically incapacitated and not reasonably able to give consent.

Dating violence is 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:

  1. the length of the relationship,
  2. the type of relationship, and
  3. the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Domestic violence is 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 Alabama law, 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 State of Alabama.

A hostile environment may be created by verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity.

A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious, for any reason, including by alcohol or other drugs.

Programming, initiatives and strategies that are sustained over time and focus on increasing understanding of topics relevant to and skills for addressing dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, using a range of strategies with audiences throughout the university.

Preponderance of evidence is the standard of proof used in investigation process. Evidence that suggests that the individual charged with misconduct “more likely than not” actually engaged in the alleged misconduct.

Programming, initiatives, and strategies informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness, or outcome that are intended to stop dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking before they occur through the promotion of positive and healthy behaviors that foster healthy, mutually respectful relationships and sexuality, encourage safe bystander intervention, and seek to change behavior and social norms in healthy and safe direction.

A reporting party is a person who reports he or she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation.

An individual, or group of individuals such as a student organization, who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.

An individual’s adverse action against another person because that person has filed a complaint or participated in an investigation. Retaliation is prohibited by UNA policy.

Sexual Assault occurs when the following incidents of forcible and non-forcible sex offenses occur.

Forcible sex offenses are defined as any sexual act, directed against another person, without the consent of the Complainant, including instances where the Complainant is incapable of giving consent. Forcible sex offenses include the following:

  • Rape is 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 Complainant.
  • Sodomy is oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the Complainant.
  • Sexual assault with an object occurs when an object or instrument is used to penetrate, however, slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the Complainant.
  • Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person, including the buttocks, groins, and breast, for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of the Complainant.

Non-forcible sex offenses include:

  • Incest is nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other as prohibited under the laws of the state in which the intercourse occurs.
  • Statutory Rape is nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent in the state in which the intercourse occurs.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regard Sexual Harassment, a specific form of discriminatory harassment, as an unlawful discriminatory practice.

The University has adopted the following definition of Sexual Harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community, which consists not only of employer and employees, but of students as well. Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved. Sexual Harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking as defined below.

Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:
i. Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
ii. 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 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.
  • 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