Discrimination, Harassment & Sexual Misconduct

Discrimination is inequitable and unlawful treatment based on an individual's protected characteristics or statuses -- race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, genetic information, disability, or any other status protected by law – that excludes an individual from participation in, denies the individual the benefits of, treats the individual differently or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in an Institute program or activity. This includes failing to provide reasonable accommodation, consistent with state and federal law, to persons with disabilities.

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. It is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g., sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures); or physical (e.g., touching, pinching, brushing the body, any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity, including sexual assault). Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or different sexes. Sexual harassment may also include sex-based harassment directed toward stereotypical notions of what is female/feminine versus male/masculine or a failure to conform to those gender stereotypes.

Term or condition of employment or education. This type of sexual harassment (often referred to as "quid pro quo" harassment) occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, living environment, or participation in an Institute activity are conditioned upon, either explicitly or implicitly, submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or such submission or rejection is a factor in decisions affecting that individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in an Institute program or activity.

A hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits, or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the Institute's educational programs, services, opportunities, or activities or the individual's employment access, benefits, or opportunities. Mere subjective offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment. In determining whether conduct is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive and thus creates a hostile environment, the following factors will be considered: (a) the degree to which the conduct affected one or more individuals' education or employment; (b) the nature, scope, frequency, duration, and location of the incident(s); (c) the identity, number, and relationships of persons involved; (d) the perspective of a “reasonable person” in the same situation as the person subjected to the conduct, and (e) the nature of higher education and the Institute's military training program.

Sexual misconduct includes sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

1) Sexual assault is non-consensual contact of a sexual nature. It includes any sexual contact when the victim does not or is unable to consent through the use of force,
fear, intimidation, physical helplessness, ruse, impairment or incapacity (including impairment or incapacitation as a result of the use of drugs or alcohol, such that a reasonable person would determine that the victim is unable to knowingly consent); intentional and non-consensual touching of, or coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force another to touch, a person's genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks or breast; and non-consensual sexual intercourse, defined as anal, oral, or vaginal penetration with any object.

2) Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. Past consent to sexual activities, or a current or previous dating relationship, does not imply ongoing or future consent. Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred.

3) Sexual coercion means the application of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Continued pressure after an individual has made clear that he or she does not want to go beyond a certain point of sexual interaction can be coercive. In evaluating coercion, the Institute will consider: (a) frequency of the application of pressure; (b) the intensity of the pressure; (c) isolation of the person being pressured; and (d) duration of the pressure.

4) Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for anyone's advantage or benefit other than the person being exploited, and that behavior does not meet the definition of sexual assault. Sexual exploitation includes prostituting another person, non-consensual visual or audio recording of sexual activity, non-consensual distribution of photos or other images of an individual's sexual activity or intimate body parts with an intent to embarrass such individual, non-consensual voyeurism, knowingly transmitting HIV or an STD to another, or exposing one's genitals to another in non-consensual circumstances.

5) 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 victim. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on the reporting party’s statement 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. Dating
violence can be a single event or a pattern of behavior that 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.

6) Domestic violence is a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed: (i) by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (ii) by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (iii) by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (iv) by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia; or (v) by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Domestic violence can be a single event or a pattern of behavior that includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse.

7) Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: (i) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (ii) suffer substantial emotional distress, meaning significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. A "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 victim. “Substantial emotional
distress” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.”

  If you feel you have been a victim of any of these: Please reach out to our Reporting Contacts, whether on post or anonymously in the community, for assistance and guidance.

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