NOTE: This policy is outdated and has been replaced as of 08/2020. Please see the Policy Prohibiting Sex-Based Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct.

Statement of Purpose

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Under Title IX, all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of gender, are protected from any sex-based discrimination, which includes sexual harassment or violence that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” This policy addresses sexual misconduct prohibited by Title IX. 

In addition, this policy is informed by an understanding that sexual misconduct destroys the respect, dignity, and trust necessary to form a vibrant community. The emotional trauma experienced by survivors and its ripple effect throughout the campus impedes the ability of community members to thrive and flourish. In addition to seeking to curb sexual misconduct, the policy is an effort to affirm Puget Sound’s care and fairness for all of its constituents and seeks to preserve the university as a welcoming place for exploration, self-expression, and the deep work of learning.

This policy is binding upon all members of the university including faculty, students, staff, and administrators as well as third parties affiliated with the university community. It is a charter for creating an environment in which each person is liberated to pursue intellectual potential. It contains standards of behavior for all of us in the shared community of the university. Enforcement of this policy and reports of violations are to be fairly and impartially expedited by the Title IX Coordinator (or their designee), the Dean of Students, the Dean of the University, and/or Human Resources. The expectation is that all members of the community are participants and bear a shared responsibility for upholding these standards. 

Policy Statement 

The university prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual contact, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence, and all other forms of nonconsensual sexual conduct.

This policy applies to all members of the Puget Sound community, including students, faculty, and staff, as well as off-campus visitors, vendors, independent contractors, work-study employers, internship supervisors, prospective students, volunteers, and third parties. These standards apply regardless of the sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of any of the individuals involved. Adherence to these standards is expected regardless of location either on or off campus. 

All members of the campus community have a responsibility to govern their own conduct in accordance with this policy. All employees of the University of Puget Sound have a special responsibility to report discriminatory harassment or sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment. It is the policy of the University of Puget Sound to respond promptly and fairly to reports of sexual misconduct. Violations of this Policy that are reported, investigated, and adjudicated may result in sanctions up to, and including termination, dismissal, or expulsion. The university is committed to providing educational and preventative training programs regarding sexual or gender-based harassment and to providing a safe, private, and accessible reporting process.

This policy is intended to meet and may generally exceed the requirements of applicable federal, state, and local laws. However, this policy does not provide a substitute procedure for redressing any person's legal rights, or create legal rights separate from applicable laws. Additionally, the university is not prevented by this policy from acting to remedy a problem that could also be remedied by resort to legal action. The university may take appropriate protective and administrative action even in situations where the complainant is absent. An intentionally false complaint will also constitute a violation of this policy and may subject the offender to disciplinary action. A complaint is not considered to be falsely reported merely because the evidence does not suffice to support a formal charge or finding of responsibility.

Policy Definitions

Sexual Consent
Consent is a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed outwardly through mutually understandable words and/or actions, to engage in a particular activity. Consent must be given voluntarily and cannot be obtained through coercion or force. An incapacitated person is unable to give consent. Coercion, force, and incapacitation are defined in subsequent sections. 

Consent is not to be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance. Relying on non-verbal communication alone may not be sufficient to ascertain consent.

A person under the age of sixteen cannot consent to sexual activity of any kind.

Consent is not to be inferred from an existing or previous intimate relationship. 

Consent to engage in one sexual activity is not consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage in the same sexual activity on a later occasion. Consent must be given at the time of the sexual activity.

Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person is not consent to engage in sexual activity with any other person. Consent cannot be conveyed by a third party but must be communicated between participants.

Consent must be on-going and may be withdrawn by any party at any point. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately.

Sexual Coercion
Coercion is conduct that would reasonably place an individual in fear and is employed to compel someone to engage in sexual activity. Coercion includes, but is not limited to, intimidation and expressed or implied threats of physical, emotional, reputational, academic or financial harm to any person. The intentional use of alcohol or other drugs to render a person incapacitated also constitutes coercion. 

Sexual Force
Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to compel someone to engage in sexual activity. 

Incapacitation constitutes a state in which a person can no longer adequately process information to make an informed, reasoned judgement. Incapacitation may result from the consumption of alcohol or other drugs. In addition, a person is incapacitated and cannot consent if that person is asleep, seriously ill, unconscious, intermittently conscious, or physically or mentally unable to make informed, reasoned judgments. Incapacitation will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and will involve an analysis of whether a responding party “should have known” that the complainant was incapacitated, or played a role in the complainant becoming incapacitated.  

Types of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation as well as other misconduct of a sexual nature.  

Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment includes “hostile environment” harassment and “quid pro quo” harassment. 

Hostile Environment Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment if such conduct creates a hostile environment. A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s university education, employment, or activities.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment if submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a person’s employment, academic standing, or participation in university activities. This is referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment. 

When sexual harassment occurs within the context of a sexual and/or intimate relationship, it may constitute intimate partner violence.

Unwelcome Sexual Contact
Unwelcome sexual contact is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without the consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. Unwelcome sexual contact includes rape as well as other forms of sexual assault. Rape is the non-consensual penetration of any orifice with any object. Other forms of unwelcome sexual contact include attempted rape, fondling, and other physical sexual activity that occurs without consent.  For definitions of consent, including force, coercion, and incapacitation, see the first section of this document, entitled “Consent”. 

When unwelcome sexual contact occurs within the context of a sexual and/or intimate relationship, it may constitute intimate partner violence.

Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence or dating violence, is defined as an act or pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Not all intimate partner violence is sexual in nature, but sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence can overlap.   

Stalking is the repetitive and/or menacing pursuit, following, and/or harassment of a person which interferes with that person’s well-being and safety or the well-being and safety of that person’s family, friends and/or associates. Stalking and harassment may also occur digitally through cell phones, the internet, social media platforms, or other technology. 

Not all stalking is sexual in nature. Non-sexual stalking is prohibited under the Discrimination and Harassment Policy

When stalking occurs within the context of a sexual and/or intimate relationship, it may constitute intimate partner violence.

Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation may include allowing third parties to observe private sexual activity without consent, engaging in voyeurism (watching private sexual activity without consent or viewing another person’s intimate parts in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy), recording, disseminating, or transmitting private sexual images or sounds without consent, and prostituting another person.

When sexual exploitation occurs within the context of a sexual and/or intimate relationship, it may constitute intimate partner violence.

Other Sexual Misconduct
Any sexual behavior that could reasonably be expected to inflict unwanted harm upon another member of the campus community may fall under the category of sexual misconduct. Other sexual misconduct includes unwanted physical contact, touching oneself sexually for others to view without their consent, and knowingly exposing another person to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without that person’s knowledge. 

When such behavior occurs within the context of a romantic/intimate relationship, it may constitute domestic/intimate partner violence.

Prohibited Relations
The University of Puget Sound prohibits any intimate relations between a faculty member and a student. The university also prohibits intimate relations between a staff member and a student whenever the staff member is in a position of professional responsibility with respect to the student. 

Intimate relations are defined as occurring when romantic or sexual contact, or inappropriate personal attention, is established between one person or persons and another person or persons. Such contact may be a single instance or it may involve an ongoing pattern of contact. This policy should not be understood as prohibiting friendship or mentorship of a platonic nature.

All members of the faculty are by default considered to be in a supervisory role with students. Pre-existing, on-going intimate relationships between a faculty member and someone who is enrolling at the university must be disclosed to the office of the Title IX Coordinator.

In accord with the university’s conflict of interest provisions, this policy prohibits faculty or staff members from exercising supervisory responsibility with respect to another faculty or staff member with whom they are involved in an intimate relationship. A faculty or staff member who enters into an intimate relationship with a subordinate is required to promptly disclose the relationship to appropriate superior(s) so that reassignment, alternative supervision processes, or other arrangements can be facilitated and documented. 

All reported violations of this policy will be investigated as an incident of sexual misconduct.

Retaliation and Violation of Interim Measures

In addition to the behaviors defined above, the policy also prohibits retaliation and the violation of interim measures.

Retaliation includes acts, words, or attempts to seek retribution or take action against a person because of that person’s good faith participation in the reporting, investigation, or resolution of an alleged violation of this policy.  Retaliation may include intimidation, threats, coercion, or adverse educational or employment actions. A good faith pursuit by either party of civil, criminal, or other legal action does not constitute retaliation.

Interim measures are those services, accommodations, agreements, and arrangements that the university secures for complainants after receiving notice of alleged violations of policy, but before any final outcomes have been determined. Failure to comply with interim measures is a violation of this policy.


Origination Date: 5/2017
Owner: President's Cabinet
Contact: Assistant to the President/Secretary of the Corporation
Updated: 8/17/18