James Madison University prohibits sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct encompasses sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, relational violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, and nonconsensual relationships.  Sexual Misconduct can involve persons of the same or different sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.

All acts of Sexual Misconduct are covered by the terms of this policy, provided that the Reporting Party reasonably believes they have been subjected to sexual misconduct by a current student, as defined by the Student Handbook and any limitations set forth by JMU Policy 1340, and one or more of the following apply:

  • A substantial portion of the alleged sexual misconduct occurred on university-controlled, university-owned, or university-leased property.

  • The alleged sexual misconduct had a significant connection to or effect on official university programs or activities. 

  • The alleged sexual misconduct had a significant connection to or effect on the learning or working environment at JMU of the Reporting Party.

Students who report sexual misconduct will not receive alleged policy violations of J38-101 Alcohol or J38-102 Drugs, even if these substances were involved. Furthermore, student witnesses for the Reporting Party or the Responding Party will not receive alleged policy violations of J38-101 Alcohol or J38-102 Drugs as a result of their statements in the case. Reporting Parties and Responding Parties should review JMU Policy 1340 for their roles in the investigation of an allegation and the OSARP Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process for their roles in the adjudication of an allegation. Both parties will be assigned an advisor in OSARP to guide them through the Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process.

The following behavior is prohibited at JMU:

J34-101 Sexual Assault – Any nonconsensual physical contact of a sexual nature that is forced on another person, including unwelcome sexual touching of any kind. This includes engaging, attempting to engage, or completing any kissing; sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal); penetration, however slight, with any object or body part; intentional touching of oneself or another person’s body part in a sexual manner, directly or through clothing; forcing a person to touch oneself or another person’s body part in a sexual manner, directly or through clothing. 

J34-103 Sexual Exploitation - 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 his/her 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.  

J34-104 Sexual Harassment – A form of sex discrimination consisting of unwelcome or offensive sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendos, 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, or brushing the body; or any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity).

Sexual harassment may include the following: 

  • Term or condition of employment or education ("quid pro quo"). This type of sexual harassment occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, living environment, or participation in a university 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 a university program or activity.  
  • Hostile environment.  Acts of sexual harassment that create a hostile environment, as defined herein. 

J34-105 Relational Violence – A form of violence which consists of physical assaults or serious threats of bodily harm, including domestic violence and dating violence.

J34-106 Stalking - 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.

J34-107 Non-Consensual Relationship - 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.

In adjudicating allegations of violating J34-100 Sexual Misconduct the following definitions will be applied:

Consent: 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 reasonably 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.

Dating Violence: 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.

Domestic Violence: An incident or pattern of physically and/or sexually abusive behavior used by one individual to assert power or maintain control over another in the context of an intimate or family relationship.

Hostile Environment: A hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive in a manner that it interferes with, limits or denies the person the ability to participate in or benefit from the institution’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, persistent or pervasive, 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.

Incapacitation: 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.

Sexual Violence: 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 or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the person from having the capacity to give consent).

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