Oberlin College prohibits all forms of sexual or gender-based harassment, discrimination, and violence, including sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence. 

Behavior that blocks another individual’s access to education or employment because of the individual’s sex, gender identity, and or expression, or sexual orientation, constitutes harassment, is not allowed on campus, and will be addressed quickly and decisively.

The terms mentioned in the previous paragraph encompass a broad range of behaviors that are explained more fully below. For a detailed explanation of all forms of sexual and or gender-based harassment, see the Sexual Misconduct Policy  that covers Title IX.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated without a person’s consent or where a person is incapable of giving consent for any reason, including incapacitation.

Sexual Assault

Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual without consent. This includes sexual intercourse achieved by the use or threat of force or coercion, where an individual does not consent to the sexual act, or where an individual is incapacitated and thus incapable of consent.

  • Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part or object, or oral copulation by mouth-to-genital contact.

Non-consensual Sexual Contact

Having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent.

  • Sexual contact includes kissing, touching the intimate parts of another, causing the other to touch one's intimate parts, or disrobing of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.

Sexual Exploitation

When an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.

Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • surreptitiously observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • non-consensual sharing or streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • exposing one’s genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in non-consensual circumstances (such behavior may also constitute public nudity);
  • knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infection without their knowledge;
  • hazing and or bullying related to sex or gender; and
  • inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.

Intimate Partner Violence

Refers to any act of violence or threatened act of violence (sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, economic, or otherwise) against a person who is or has been involved in a sexual, dating, domestic, or other intimate relationship with that person.

  • Often referred to as dating violence, domestic violence or relationship violence
  • Can encompass a broad range of behavior including all of the above categories of sexual misconduct
  • May involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior
  • May take the form of threats, assault, property damage, violence or threat of violence to one's self, one's sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner

Intimate partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientation and all racial, social, and economic backgrounds.

Stalking

A course of conduct directed at another individual that could be reasonably regarded as likely to alarm, harass, or cause fear of harm or injury to that person or to a third party.

  • A course of conduct consists of at least two acts
  • The feared harm or injury may be physical, emotional, or psychological, or related to the personal safety, property, education, or employment of that individual
  • Includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic media (ex: the Internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts) are used to pursue, harass, or to make unwelcome contact with another person

Sexual Harassment

Any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment occurs when any of the following conditions are present:

  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual's employment, evaluation of academic work, or participation in any aspect of a college program or activity;
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; and
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance.

Sexual and gender-based harassment:

  • May be blatant and involve an overt action or may be subtle and indirect
  • May or may not include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents
  • May be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, position or authority
  • May be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the reporting party has an intimate or sexual relationship
  • May be committed by or against an individual or group
  • May occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation
  • May occur in the classroom, in the workplace, in athletic facilities, in residential settings, or in any other setting
  • May be a one-time event or part of a pattern of behavior
  • May be committed in the presence of others, when the parties are alone, or through the use of technology
  • May affect the reporting party and/or third parties who witness or observe harassment and are affected by it

Examples also include one or more of the following:

Physical conduct

  • Unwelcome touching, sexual/physical assault, impeding, restraining, or blocking movements
  • Unwanted sexual advances

Verbal conduct

  • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or humor
  • Intentionally using incorrect pronouns or an incorrect name when a person has clearly stated their preferred name and pronouns.
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual's body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations
  • Objectively offensive comments of a sexual nature, including persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes

Visual conduct

  • Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive or demeaning objects or pictures, cartoon or posters in a public space or forum
  • Severe, persistent, or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic, or degrading images. This example should not be understood to constrain academic freedom in teaching, research, or creative activity, or to limit intellectual and or expressive rights.
  • Letters, notes or electronic communications containing comments, words, or images described above

Quid pro quo conduct

  • Direct propositions of a sexual nature between those for whom a power imbalance or supervisory or other authority relationship exists
  • Offering educational or employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Making submission to sexual advances an actual or implied condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation, including subtle pressure for sexual activity, an element of which may be repeated requests for private meetings with no academic or work purpose
  • Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances

Retaliation

Any adverse action or attempt to retaliate or seek retribution against a reporting party, responding party, or any individual or group of individuals involved in a report, investigation and or resolution of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

  • Including threats, intimidation, pressuring, continued abuse, violence or other forms of harm to others, and in varying modes, including in person and in electronic and online communication

Public Nudity

Occurs when a person exposes one’s private parts or engages in sexual conduct or masturbation in any public place or in any place where the person’s conduct is likely to be viewed by and affront others who are in the person’s physical proximity.

  • This prohibition is not intended to place constraints on academic freedom, which protects intellectual and expressive representations of the body and classroom materials which may include nudity.

Power Dynamics within the College

  • Oberlin College prohibits employees from participating in evaluative personnel decisions (including those related to hiring, performance review, compensation, and termination) about other employees with whom they are in a sexual, intimate, and or familial relationship.
  • Faculty and staff members are prohibited from engaging in sexual relationships with students to whom they are not married or in formal domestic partnerships, even when both parties believe the conduct is consensual, because of the potential negative impact on individuals as well as the college learning and working community. This prohibition reflects an understanding that power inequalities due to role differences between faculty/staff and students affect the possibilities of effective consent.