Frequently Used Terms

Complainants and respondents can have a supportive person, also known as an advisor of choice, with them at any meetings and proceedings with the Title IX Office including investigation meetings. An advisor of choice can be anyone that a complainant or respondent chooses. The advisor of choice does not have to have any specific knowledge or qualifications. The advisor of choice is someone who offers support. 

  • During formal complaint investigations proceedings, an advisor of choice may be present with the party they are supporting but an advisor of choice may not speak for the person they are supporting during the investigation.
  • If a formal complaint is being investigated under Policy 1346, the complainant’s advisor of choice and the respondent’s advisor of choice receive access to all the investigation files that the party they are supporting does, as long as the party they are supporting has provided the Title IX Office with the name of their advisor of choice in writing and an email address for the advisor of choice.
  • For formal complaints being investigated under Policy 1340, the Title IX Office must receive written permission from the party that the advisor of choice is providing support for, in order for Title IX to provide access to investigation files.
  • For formal complaints that are adjudicated under Policy 1340 the advisor of choice may not speak for the party they are providing support for during the formal complaint hearing.
  • For formal complaints adjudicated under Policy 1346, the advisor of choice must be able to conduct questioning (cross examination) on behalf of the party they are supporting durign the formal complaint hearing.

For more information on advisors of choice refer to Policy 1340 and 1346.

The complainant is the individual who is described as having directly experienced the harm that is the focus of a report or formal complaint made to the Title IX Office. Refer to Policy 1340 and 1346 for more information.

An outward demonstration through understandable words or actions that convey a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be obtained by physical or verbal coercion that is express or implied, which includes the use of intimidation, threats, force, or duress. Consent cannot be obtained by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, by previous consent, or by taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation or physical helplessness where one knows or a reasonable person should have known of such incapacitation or helplessness. An individual who is incapacitated because of age, disability, voluntary activity, or through the acts of others cannot give consent. Silence or absence of resistance does not imply consent. Consent is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time by communicating the withdrawal through an outward demonstration of understandable words or actions. See Policy 1340 and 1346.

Confidential resources are the employees who are exempt from reporting information about incidents of sexual misconduct involving JMU community members to Title IX. At JMU, the Counseling Center, University Health Center, Victim’s Advocacy, health coaches in UREC, and undergraduate student employees (excluding RA’s) are all designated as confidential. See Policy 1340 and 1346 for more information.

A form of sexual violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with another person, where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
• The length of the relationship.
• The type of relationship.
• The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

See Policy 1340 and 1346.

Crimes of violence committed by any of the following:
• A current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim
• A person with whom the victim shares a child in common
• A person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner
• A person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia
• 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 Commonwealth of Virginia

See Policy 1340 and 1346.

A report is any information that the Title IX Office receives from a complainant or a third party (such as a responsible employee) about an alleged incident of sexual misconduct involving one or more JMU community members. Upon receipt of a report the Title IX office reaches out the complainant to provide information about resources, supportive measures, and options for addressing the harm including through the filing of a Formal complaint.

A formal complaint is a written signed document submitted by a complainant to the Title IX Office requesting that the Title IX Office investigate the incident alleged in the complaint so that an outcome can be determined through a university adjudication process or requesting referral to alternative resolution or adaptable resolution to reach an outcome. Also refer to Policy 1340 and 1346.

Policy 1302 defines discrimination as inequitable treatment that conditions any element of a person’s employment, enrollment as a student, receipt of student financial aid, or participation in university programs or activities on that person's protected characteristics (such as gender expression, gender identity, sex, sexual identity, pregnancy status) in violation of applicable law. Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are examples of discrimination on the basis of sex or gender.

Physical or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. States of incapacitation
include, without limitation, sleep, blackouts, unconsciousness, and the inability to make such
decisions due to the voluntary or involuntary use of alcohol or drugs. Incapacitation may occur
because of age, disability, voluntary activity, or through the acts of others. See university Policy 1340 and 1346.

A sexual relationship between members of the university community is prohibited if it is influenced by any form of fear or coercion, such that it causes one party to believe that they must submit to unwelcome sexual conduct in order to accept or continue employment, achieve an employment or educational benefit, or participate in a program or activity. A sexual relationship is prohibited between individuals where a power differential would imply or raise the inference of exploitation or raise the inference that an educational or employment decision will be based on whether or not there is submission to coerced sexual conduct. The university prohibits sexual relationships between faculty members and students in their classes or under their supervision, e.g., teaching or graduate assistants. See university Policy 1340.

Preponderance of the evidence is the standard of proof that is used to make determination for violations of Policy 1340 and 1346 in student and employee adjudication processes. Preponderance of the evidence means that there is a greater than fifty-percent likelihood that a respondent violated policy.

The respondent is the individual who is described as having directly caused the harm that is alleged in a report or formal complaint received by the Title IX Office. In general the Title IX Office will only make initial contact with respondents if the complainant has requested a supportive measure that involves the respondent, such as a two-way supportive measure no contact order, or if the complainant has filed a formal complaint. For more information refer to Policy 1340 and 1346. The Title IX Office presumes that no policy violation has occurred unless proven otherwise by a preponderance of the evidence as a result of an adjudication process.

All JMU employees except for those who are specifically designated as confidential resources are responsible for reporting to Title IX any disclosures they receive or information they learn about an incident of sexual misconduct involving JMU community members. This is limited to disclosures or information they learn about or receive while carrying out their paid responsibilities. See Employee Reporting Obligations, Policy 1340, and Policy 1346 for more information.

Retaliation is intimidation, interference, threats, coercion, or discrimination against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege under Policy 1340 or Policy 1346, or because the individual has made a report or formal complaint, or has participated or refused to participate in a formal complaint or other matter that would fall under Policy 1340 or 1346.

Refer to the policies for the full definition.

A sexual act committed against another person without consent. Sexual assault includes any of the following offenses:
• Rape: 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 victim. Attempts to commit rape are included.
• Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim.
• Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
• Statutory rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent. The statutory age of consent in the Commonwealth of Virginia is 18 years old.

See Policy 1340 and 1346.

Taking sexual advantage of another person without that individual’s consent. Examples include, but are not limited to, prostituting another person; causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person for a sexual purpose; recording, photographing, creating, or transmitting sexual utterances, sounds, or images, whether real or fake, of another person without that person’s consent; allowing a third party to observe sexual activity without the consent of the participants; knowingly transmitting sexually transmitted infections or other diseases without the knowledge of the person’s sexual partner; inducing another to expose their body for sexual purposes; intentionally altering, removing, or sabotaging contraceptive or prophylactic measures without the knowledge of the other party, including but not limited to condoms and/or birth control measures; and viewing another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy without that person’s consent. See university Policy 1340.

Sexual misconduct is a singular term that is used in Policy 1340 to refer to sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, and non-consensual relationships.

Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving
consent (e.g., due to the person’s age, mental state, use of drugs or alcohol, or because an
intellectual or other disability prevents the person from having the capacity to give consent). 

See Policy 1346, Policy 1340, and Virginia § 23.1-806. Reporting of acts of sexual violence.

Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. See university Policy 1340 and 1346.

Supportive measures are non-punitive resources offered and available for complainants and respondents involved in reports and formal complaints made to the Title IX Office.

Title IX sexual harassment is the singular term used in Policy 1346 to refer to sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

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