Sexual Misconduct

At Coe College, Sexual Misconduct, as used in this Policy, is an umbrella term covering sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence (i.e., sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse and/or sexual exploitation), dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. This term will be used throughout this policy when collectively referring to these types of conduct.

Sexual misconduct can occur when the complainant and alleged perpetrator are members of the same or opposite sex, and the College’s prohibition of sexual misconduct applies regardless of national origin, immigration status, or citizenship status.

Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination occurs when persons are excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, any College program or activity because of their sex. Sex discrimination can include adverse treatment based on one’s sex, as well as the other prohibited conduct outlined below. Sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, gender identity, and failure to conform to stereotypical notions of femininity and masculinity .

Sexual Harassment

At Coe College, Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical, graphic, or written conduct of a sexual nature when at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic advancement, and/or athletic participation;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual, and/or;
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, campus living, or academic experience. 

Sexual Harassment may be disciplined when it takes the form of quid pro quo harassment, retaliatory harassment, and/or creates a hostile environment.

  • A  Hostile Environment is created when sexual harassment is:
    • sufficiently severe, or
    • persistent or pervasive, and
    • objectively offensive that it:
    • unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational and/or employment, social and/or residential program
  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment is:
    • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
    • By a person having power or authority over another constitutes sexual harassment when
    • Submission  to  such  sexual  conduct  is  made  either  explicitly  or  implicitly  a  term  or  condition  of  rating  or  evaluating  an individual’s educational or employment progress, development, or performance.
    • This includes when submission to such conduct would be a condition for access to receiving the benefits of any educational or employment program.

Some examples of sexual harassment include: 

  • Pressure for a dating, romantic, or intimate relationship
  • Unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging, rubbing, or massaging
  • Pressure for sexual activity
  • Unnecessary references to parts of the body
  • Sexual innuendos, jokes, humor, or gestures
  • Displaying sexual graffiti, pictures, videos or posters
  • Using sexually explicit profanity
  • Asking about, or telling about, sexual fantasies, sexual preferences, or sexual activities
  • Social media use that violates this policy
  • Leering or staring at someone in a sexual way, such as staring at a person’s breasts or groin
  • Sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • Commenting on a person’s dress in a sexual manner
  • Giving  unwelcome  personal  gifts  such  as  flowers,  chocolates,  or  lingerie  that  suggest  the  desire  for  a  romantic relationship
  • Exposure of genitals without consent
  • Commenting on a person’s body, gender, sexual relationships, or sexual activities
  • Sexual violence (as defined below)

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is a particularly severe form of prohibited sexual harassment. Sexual violence includes physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent because of his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, because he or she is below the minimum age of consent in the applicable jurisdiction, or because of his or her incapacitation due to the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Other types of conduct may also constitute sexual violence.

At Coe College, sexual violence can include sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse and/or sexual exploitation.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is:

  • any intentional sexual touching,
  • however slight,
  • with any object,
  • by a person upon another person,
  • that is without consent and/or by force.
  • Sexual Contact includes:
    • Intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; or
    • Any other intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is:

  • any sexual intercourse
  • however slight,
  • with any object,
  • by a person upon another person,
  • that is without consent and/or by force
  • Intercourse includes:
    • vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

At Coe College, Sexual Assault occurs when a person engages in sexual relations with another person without the person’s affirmative consent. Sexual Assault includes the sexual conduct commonly known as rape, whether forcible or non-forcible. Either males or females can be aggressors in sexual assault, and sexual assault can occur in same-sex relationships. Sexual assault is a violation of a person’s body and mind.

At Coe College, Sexual Exploitation occurs when a student takes non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another; for his/her own advantage or benefit; or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited; and that behavior does not otherwise constitute non-consensual sexual conduct (sexual assault), non-consensual sexual intercourse, or sexual harassment.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Secret video or audio taping of sexual activity;
  • Going beyond the boundaries of consent such as letting your friends secretly watch you have consensual sex;
  • Engaging in voyeurism, which is defined as the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual activity, especially secretly watching;
  • Knowingly transmitting an STI, STD, or HIV to another;
  • Inducing physical and/or mental incapacitation with intent of engaging in sexual activity with another person.

Coercion, Force, and Incapacitation

Consent to sexual interactions cannot occur if coercion or force is used  or if an individual is incapacitated. Following these definitions, the College’s standards for consent are discussed in more detail.

Coercion is direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship or retribution sufficient to persuade a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibility to perform an act which otherwise would have been performed or acquiesce in an act to which one would not have submitted. Coercion can include unreasonable and sustained pressure for sexual activity. When someone makes it clear that she/he does not want to engage in sexual activity, that she/he wants it to stop, or that she/he does not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point is considered coercion.

Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to overcome an individual’s freedom to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity.

Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because that individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. An incapacitated individual lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether or not to engage in sexual activity. A person who is incapacitated in unable to and  cannot give consent to sexual activity. A person can be physically active and in the case of alcohol or drug-induced blackouts.

Affirmative Consent

Lack of consent is a critical factor in determining whether sexual violence has occurred. At Coe College, an affirmative consent standard is used. Consent to engage in sexual activity must be given knowingly, voluntarily, and affirmatively. Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from the beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity, and for each form of sexual contact. Consent demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or clear, unambiguous actions that indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive.

Each participant in a sexual encounter is expected to obtain and give consent each act of sexual activity. Consent to one form of sexual activity does not constitute consent to engage in all forms of sexual activity.

Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Relying on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings. Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of an active response alone. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent.

If at any time it is reasonably apparent that either party is hesitant, confused or unsure, both parties should stop and obtain mutual oral consent to continuing such activity.

Consent can be withdrawn by either party at any time. Withdrawal of consent can also be outwardly demonstrated by mutually understandable words and/or clear, unambiguous actions that indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease.

Individuals with a previous or current intimate relationship do not automatically give initial or continued consent to sexual activity. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly and unambiguously indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity.

Consent is not affirmative if it results from the use or threat of physical force, intimidation, or coercion, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his/her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact.

An individual who is physically incapacitated from alcohol and/or other drug consumption (voluntarily or involuntarily), or is unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless is considered unable to give consent. For example, one who is asleep or passed out cannot give consent.

In the State of Iowa, consent can never be given by minors under the age of 16. For those under the age of 16 the law has two distinctions: First, anybody 13 years of age or younger is considered to be a “child” under Iowa Code, section 702.5 and thus,  incapable of consent. Second, for the ages of 14 and 15, the consenting partner must be less than 5 years of age apart from the teen.

Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking

The crimes of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking can also constitute sexual misconduct when motivated by a person’s sex. These types of conduct, no matter the motivation behind them , are a violation of this policy and will be addressed pursuant to the procedures outlined below.

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 victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of a victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated  with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim 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 victim 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.

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (a) fear for his  or her safety or the safety of others or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking may take the form of harassing telephone  calls, computer communications, letter-writing, etc. Stalking includes the activities generally associated with cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic and social media, including social networks, blogs, cells phones, texts or other similar electronic communication is used.