Understanding Key Terms

Key terms and definitions

Familiarity with these key terms will help you understand IU's sexual misconduct policy.


A Complainant is an individual who reports experiencing sexual misconduct committed by a member of the university community, and is named in a complaint of sexual misconduct under this policy. The university may serve as the Complainant when an individual who has alleged sexual misconduct does not wish to participate and the university has determined it is necessary to move forward under the applicable procedures.

Certain university employees who, based on their own professional licensure and the nature of their role on campus, are available to speak about incidents of sexual misconduct with individuals who desire anonymity and absolute confidentiality. Confidential Employees are exempt from the reporting requirements that apply to Responsible Employees. 

Confidential Employees include, but are not limited to

  • Licensed, professional mental health counselors and those they supervise
  • Health care professionals and staff of on-campus health care centers
  • Staff or specialists designated as non-professional sexual assault advocates

Consent is an agreement expressed through affirmative, voluntary words or actions, and mutually understandable to all parties involved, to engage in a specific sexual act at a specific time.

  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time, as long as it is clearly communicated.
  • Consent cannot be coerced or compelled by force, threat, deception, or intimidation.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated, as defined below.
  • Consent cannot be assumed based on silence, the absence of “no” or “stop,” the existence of a prior or current relationship, or prior sexual activity.


An individual is incapable of consent if they are unable to understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the situation due to drugs, alcohol, a mental disability, being asleep or unconscious, or based on their age (pursuant to Indiana law). With respect to alcohol and drugs, intoxication and/or impairment is not presumptively equivalent to incapacitation.

Consent does not exist when the individual initiating sexual activity knew or should have known of the other individual’s incapacitation.

Violence or the threat of violence committed by any individual who is or has been in a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interactions between the individuals involved in the relationship.

Violence or the threat of violence by an individual against another individual who:

  • is or was a spouse of,
  • is or was living as if a spouse of,
  • has a child in common with;
  • is a minor subject to the control of, or
  • is an incapacitated person under the guardianship or otherwise subject to the control of the other individual regardless of whether the act or threat has been reported to a law enforcement agency or results in a criminal prosecution.

A respondent is any member of the university community alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct as defined in this policy.

Pursuant to Title IX, a Responsible Employee is a university employees who has the authority to redress sexual misconduct, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

The university’s Responsible Employees include, but are not limited to:

All instructors, including full-time professors, adjuncts, lecturers, associate instructors (AIs), teaching assistants (TAs), and any others who offer classroom instruction or office hours to students;

  • All advisors
  • All coaches and other athletic staff that interact directly with students
  • All student affairs administrators
  • All residential hall staff
  • All employees who work in offices that interface with students
  • All supervisors and university officials

Protections against retaliation are critical to reducing the prevalence of sexual misconduct within the university community. Retaliation against anyone who has reported an incident of sexual misconduct, provided information, or participated in procedures or an investigation into a report of sexual misconduct is prohibited by the university and will not be tolerated.

Acts of retaliation include intimidation, threats, and/or harassment, whether physical or communicated verbally or via written communication (including through email, texts, and social media), as well as adverse changes in work or academic environments or other adverse actions or threats.

The university will take steps to prevent retaliation, and will impose sanctions on anyone or any group who is found to have engaged in retaliation in violation of this policy. Concerns about potential retaliation in connection with a report of sexual misconduct should be reported to a Deputy Title IX Coordinator or the University Title IX Coordinator.


Sexual Assault includes:

  • Non-consensual sexual penetration, which is committed when an individual subjects another individual to sexual penetration without the consent of the individual, and/or by force.
  • Non-consensual sexual contact, which is intentional sexual touching by an individual of an intimate area of another individual (i.e., genitals, breasts, buttocks) or intentional sexual touching of another individual with any of these body parts, without the consent of the individual, and/or by force.

Sexual exploitation is conduct that extends the bounds of consensual sexual activity with or without the knowledge of the other individual for any purpose, including sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit, or any other non-legitimate purpose. Examples of sexual exploitation include but are not limited to:

  • Non-consensual streaming, audio- or video-recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds, or images without consent of all parties involved;
  • Allowing others to view sexual acts (whether in person or via a video camera or other recording device) without the consent of all parties involved;
  • Engaging in any form of voyeurism (e.g., “peeping”);
  • Prostituting another individual;
  • Compelling another individual to touch their own or another individual’s (third party) intimate parts without consent;
  • Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without that individual’s knowledge;
  • Deception regarding contraceptives; and
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another individual vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct or behavior of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes sexual violence. Both violent and non-violent sexual harassment is prohibited.

Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, written, electronic (e.g., by email, text, social media, etc.), or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo), or when such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent to limit or deny an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational programs or affects employment, creating a hostile environment.

Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, other forms of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and stalking. For purposes of this policy, sex- or gender-based discrimination is considered sexual misconduct.

Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against an individual’s will or where an individual is incapable of giving consent due to use of drugs or alcohol, or due to an intellectual or other disability. Sexual violence includes rape and sexual assault.

Stalking is an intentional course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened. The term does not include statutorily or constitutionally protected activity.

The Title IX Coordinator is the individual designated by the university to coordinate the university’s compliance with Title IX and respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the university community. In some circumstances, this can include the Title IX Coordinator’s designee. Members of the university community may contact this individual to raise concerns regarding the Sexual Misconduct Policy and process.