Northwest College

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Understanding Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct

The Northwest College Sexual Misconduct Policy addresses acts of sexual misconduct, such as sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sex-based discrimination.

Acts of sexual misconduct are prohibited at Northwest College.

Northwest College policy, as well as applicable federal and state laws, prohibits retaliation, intimidation, or reprisal against anyone who files a complaint and/or who cooperates with or participates in any procedures or investigations related to complaints of sexual misconduct.

The following definitions detail different types of sexual misconduct.

Dating/Acquaintance Rape:

Date rape involves act(s) of sexual violence committed in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The most prevalent form of sexual assault on college campuses is “acquaintance rape (assault).” Those involved know each other either through classes, activities, mutual friends, in a residence hall, or in another social venue.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), 7 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim (RAINN, 2016).

Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence is committed by a current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, or any other person who has or had a primary legal or social connection. The following domestic violence behaviors from the Northwest College Sexual Misconduct Policy involve the perpetrator having a substantial relationship with the victim:

  • physically abusing, threatening physical abuse, attempting to cause physical harm, or engaging in acts that unreasonably restrain a person’s personal liberty
  • placing an individual in fear of imminent physical harm
  • causing an individual to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress
  • physical action done in self-defense is not included in the definition of domestic violence

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) broadens the definition of Domestic Violence to include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone can also be a part of domestic violence (DOJ, 2016).

The following descriptions from the Department of Justice provide more details about the different types of domestic violence:

  • Physical Abuse: hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, and pulling hair are types of physical abuse. Physical abuse can also include denying a partner medical care or forcing a person to drink alcohol or use drugs
  • Sexual Abuse: coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without someone’s consent. Sexual abuse includes—but is not limited to—marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex, or treating someone in a sexually demeaning manner
  • Emotional Abuse: undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. Emotional abuse can include—but is not limited to—constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children
  • Economic Abuse: making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment
  • Psychological Abuse: elements of psychological abuse include—but are not limited to—causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends, hurting pets or property, or forcing isolation from family, friends, school, and/or work

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It affects people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. It can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating (DOJ, 2016).

Dating Violence

Dating violence involves controlling, abusive, or aggressive behaviors in a romantic relationship. Dating violence behaviors can include:

  • physically abusing, threatening to physically abuse, or attempting to cause physical harm to an individual
  • placing an individual in fear of imminent physical harm
  • causing an individual to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force and threat of force (NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy) 

The National Center for Victims of Crime expands on the behaviors involved in dating violence to include:

  • controlling behaviors: not letting you hang out with your friends, calling or texting you frequently, telling you what to wear, having to be with you all the time
  • verbal and emotional abuse: calling you names, showing jealousy, belittling you, and threatening to hurt you, someone in your family, or himself/herself if you don't do what he/she wants
  • physical abuse: shoving, punching, slapping, pinching, hitting, kicking, hair pulling, strangling

Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault is a general term that covers a range of crimes, including the following:

  • rape (also known as non-consensual or forced sexual intercourse)
  • acquaintance rape
  • stranger rape
  • non-consensual sodomy (anal intercourse)
  • gang rape (rape by multiple perpetrators)
Sexual Coercion:

Sexual coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity OR the use of words or actions that cause a person to fear the “coercer” shall inflict bodily harm.

When a person says “no” or “stop” or physically indicates a desire to stop the sexual activity, any further coercive pressure to continue constitutes as sexual coercion.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact:

Non-consensual sexual contact is any unwarranted or unwanted touching of another’s body on areas such as the breasts, buttocks, genital area, or the inner thigh. It could also involve subjecting another person to sexually suggestive acts or gestures.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse (Rape):

Non-consensual sexual intercourse is any sexual intercourse or penetration, no matter how slight (anal, oral, or vaginal), by a penis, tongue, finger, or other body part or any object. This penetration is without consent or is via force.

Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, written, electronic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It also includes acts of intimidation, bullying, aggression, or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

The following are examples of sexual harassment explained in the NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy:

Consequences to education or employment

Sexual harassment could include a situation when submission or consent to the unwelcome behavior is reasonably believed to carry consequences for the individual’s education, employment, on-campus living environment, or participation in a college activity. This type of harassment could include the following situations:

  • pressuring an individual to engage in sexual behavior for some educational or employment benefit
  • making a real or perceived threat that rejecting sexual behavior shall carry a negative educational or employment consequence for the individual
Severe or Pervasive Conduct

Sexual harassment could include a situation when the behavior is so severe or pervasive that is has the effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a college activity. Examples of this situation may be:

  • one or more instances of sexual assault
  • persistent unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship
  • unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors
  • unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities
  • repeated and unwelcome sexually-oriented teasing, joking, or flirting
  • verbal abuse of a sexual nature
Determining a Hostile Environment

Offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment; however, repeated incidents increase the likelihood that this harassment has created a hostile environment. A serious incident, even if isolated, can be sufficient to constitute a hostile environment.

In determining whether harassment creates a hostile environment, the harassment shall be considered not only from the perspective of the individual who feels harassed, but also from the perspective of a reasonable person in a similar situation. Also, factors such as the following shall be considered (this list is not exhaustive):

  • the degree to which the conduct affected one or more students’ education or
  • the individual’s employment
  • the nature, scope, frequency, duration, and location of the incident or incidents
  • the identity, number, and relationships of the person involved

Harassment does not include verbal expressions or written material that is relevant and appropriately related to course subject material or curriculum, and the NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy shall not abridge academic freedom or the College's educational mission. In particular, the NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy does not limit classroom teaching concerning topics legitimately related to the content or purposes of a course, even though such topics may elicit discomfort in a class member. Nor is the policy intended to limit scholarly research, publication, or public speaking on gender-related or protected class-related topics (NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy). 

Sexual Exploitation:

Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit anyone other than the one being exploited.  The NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy provides the following examples of sexual exploitation:

  • an invasion of sexual privacy
  • non-consensual electronic recording of sexual activity
  • engaging in or encouraging others to engage in voyeurism
  • knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or HIV to another person
  • exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances for one’s sexual gratification (NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy)


Stalking, according to the NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy, means engaging in a course of conduct, either directly or indirectly, that is directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  • fear for his or her safety or the safety of others OR
  • suffer substantial emotional distress (NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy)

The National Center for Victims of Crime expands the definition of stalking. Stalking is a pattern of behaviors that make a person feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. It could involve repeated contact, following a person, sending someone items, unwanted verbal contact, or threats. Stalking behaviors can include:

  • knowing a person’s schedule
  • showing up at places where the desired person is
  • sending someone emails, mail, and pictures
  • calling or texting someone repeatedly
  • contacting someone on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • posting about someone on social networking sites
  • damaging someone’s property
  • creating a web site about someone
  • stealing items that belong to someone

Sex-based Discrimination:

Conduct that is based upon an individual’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation that excludes an individual from participation, denies the individual the benefits of, treats the individual unfavorably, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a college program (NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy)