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Sexual harassment and sexual assault, including sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking
Oregon State University is dedicated to promoting and fostering a safe environment for all students, staff, and faculty. As an employer and educational institution, OSU has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to eliminate all forms of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. We must also work to prevent their recurrence and to address their effects. The office charged with investigating complaints of harassment is the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the office's Executive Director, Angelo Gomez, is the university's Title IX Coordinator.
University Policy Prohibiting All Forms of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is defined as:
Unwelcome* sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or education-related decisions affecting such an individual; or
- Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it has the effect, intended or unintended, of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance because it has created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment and would have such an effect on a reasonable person of that individual’s status.
*Employee conduct directed towards a student--whether unwelcome or welcome--can constitute sexual harassment under OAR 580-015-0010(2).
Student Conduct Code
A Student or Student Organization found to have committed any of the proscribed acts outlined in Oregon State University's Student Conduct Code is subject to sanctions. According to OSU Policy 576-015-0010(11), sexual assault, or sexual misconduct of any kind are prohibited. Sexual assault or misconduct may be found whenever sexual contact occurs without the recipients' consent, as defined by 576-015-0010(6). The Office of Equity and Inclusion responds to violations of the Student Conduct Code involving sexual harassment and/or discriminatory harassment as well as to allegations of unwanted sexual contact of any kind.
According to OSU Policy 576-015-0010(6), "Consent" is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. To be effective, consent must be informed and reciprocal, freely and actively given, and mutually understandable. These terms are defined as follows:
- Informed and reciprocal: All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. Consent cannot be informed when one is unaware that the act is being committed.
- Freely and actively given: An individual cannot consent who is incapacitated by any drug or intoxicant; or who has been compelled by force, threat of force, or deception; or whose ability to consent is compromised because of a mental or physical condition; or who is coerced by supervisory or disciplinary authority.
- Mutually understandable: Communication regarding consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate an unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity. In the absence of clear communication or outward demonstration, there is no consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to a false conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given.
Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity. Withdrawal of consent can be expressed verbally or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain or is no longer a mutual participant. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately and all parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing further sexual activity.
Prior sexual activity or relationship does not, in and of itself, constitute consent. Consent to some sexual acts does not constitute consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act constitute present or future consent.
Force: Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity. For the use of force to be demonstrated, there is no requirement that a Complainant resists the sexual advance or request; however, resistance by the Complainant will be viewed as a clear demonstration of non-consent.
Coercion: Coercion is the improper use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against their will. Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, threats, and blackmail. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Coercion includes, but is not limited to: threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression; and threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity.
Incapacitation: Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because they lack conscious knowledge of the nature of the act (i.e., to understand the who, what, when, where, why, or how of the sexual interaction) and/or is physically helpless. An individual is incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent, if they are asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring.
Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person, and evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs impact an individual’s:
- decision-making ability;
- awareness of consequences;
- ability to make informed judgments; or
- capacity to appreciate the nature and the quality of the act.
Alcohol and Other Drugs: In general, sexual contact while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs poses a risk to all parties. Alcohol and drugs impair a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of the consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. It is especially important, therefore, that anyone engaging in sexual activity be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication. If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of the other individual’s capacity to freely give consent, the prudent course of action is to forgo or cease any sexual contact or activity.
Being intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for sexual harassment or other forms of prohibited conduct, and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. According to the United States Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" Letter issued on April 4, 2011, sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim's use of drugs or alcohol. An individual may also be unable to give consent due to an intellectual disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.
Confidential support, counseling, and advocacy
- Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV)
Phone: 541-754-0110 Web: Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) Hours: 24-hoursCARDV provides 24-7 confidential crisis response, hospital and legal advocacy, hotline support, and support groups.
- Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS)
Location: 500 Snell Web: OSU Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday (academic year); 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday (summer)
SASS provides confidential support, crisis intervention, and/or counseling for any OSU student who has experienced unwanted sexual contact or relationship violence (students only). SASS also provides confidential consultation for employees who have received a report of sexual harassment or sexual violence.
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE)
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners provide confidential services to any student who is a survivor of sexual assault (students only).
- Oregon Certified SANEs
Employees and students who are not located in Corvallis or who require medical attention outside of Student Health Service's clinic hours should refer to a comprehensive list of examiners certified by the Oregon SANE Certification Commission.
- Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI)
Phone: 541-737-3556 Location: 327/330 Snell Hall Web: Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
The OEI responds to allegations by OSU community members of any form of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, discriminatory harassment, and allegations of unwanted sexual contact of any kind. In addition to providing informal and formal reporting options, the staff offers consultation and advice on what procedure is likely to have the most positive outcome. Learn more about how to report a concern.
- Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Oregon State Police (OSP), Corvallis Campus
Phone: 541-737-3010 (non-emergency); 541-737-7000 (emergency) Location: 200 Cascade Hall Web: Oregon State Police (OSP)
The Department of Public Safety and OSP respond to safety concerns and to violations of Oregon law, which may lead to criminal proceedings.
- Off-campus Local Law Enforcement Agencies
Call 911 for immediate emergency assistance of referral.
*Sexual Assault/Harassment Amnesty Clause
The university will not pursue any conduct violation against a survivor for substance use, possession, or distribution at the time of sexual assault/harassment.
We each have the responsibility to treat others with respect. The most important thing you can do is to refrain from engaging in any harassing behavior and not tolerate such behavior from others. If you stay aware of your responsibility and assert your rights to a respectful work or learning environment, you will have taken an important step toward eliminating sexual harassment. Additionally, each of us can assist the university in taking corrective action by responding appropriately when we learn of situations that may be harassment.
All Oregon State University employees must consult with the University Title IX Coordinator, Angelo Gomez, or his designee in the Office of Equity and Inclusion when they are made aware or have reason to believe that a violation of the University Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment has occurred. Employee responsibilities are detailed in the Oregon State University Policy on Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Harassment or Sexual Violence (.pdf). Exemptions from consultation with the University Title IX Coordinator or designee exist only for employees who serve in a professional role in which communication is privileged under Oregon law (e.g., medical provider, licensed professional counselor).
Please note that this responsibility is distinct from obligations related to the mandatory reporting of child abuse. ORS 419B.005 mandates that employees of Oregon higher education institutions are considered by law to be subject to mandatory reporting of child abuse.
Academic employees found to have engaged in sexual harassment may be subject to an oral or written warning or reprimand in accordance with OAR 580-21-320. Sanctions more severe than an oral or written warning or reprimand, such as removal from an assigned post and reassignment, suspension or termination shall be imposed in accordance with OAR 580-21-325 through 520-21-385.
Classified employees found to have engaged in sexual harassment may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with current collective bargaining agreements. If a proven incident of sexual harassment occurs, sanctions in accord with the progressive discipline concept shall be instituted, including written reprimand, suspension, reductions of pay, demotion, and finally, termination of service.
Students found to have engaged in sexual harassment may be subject to sanctions under the Student Conduct Code, OAR 576-15-030. These sanctions may include a warning, required educational activities, restrictions, disciplinary probation, suspension and/or expulsion.
- Office of Equity and Inclusion's Sexual Harassment Prevention educational program
Haven is an online prevention education program required for all incoming OSU students, and AlcoholEdu is a substance abuse prevention program required for all incoming first-year students attending OSU in Corvallis.