Sexual Misconduct 

Westminster Collge's Policy on Sexual Misconduct

Westminster College does not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form.  It is the policy of Westminster College that acts of sexual misconduct constitute unacceptable behavior, and are a violation of the College's core values of fairness, integrity, respect and responsibility.  Violations of the College's sexual misconduct policy are damaging not only to the living and learning environment, but compromise the safety, security and comfort of all community members.  Westminster College is dedicated to creating an environment that condemns violence, abuse, intimidation, fear, and discrimination.

Westminster College is committed to educating its community members on all forms of sexual misconduct, and empowering students, faculty and staff to speak out against these acts.  All members of the College community have an obligation to take all violations of our sexual misconduct policy seriously and to report any violations to the appropriate college officials.

Westminster College commits to working with the victim by outlining options and reasonable courses of action, and pursuing recourse if the victim so desires.  All incidents will be thoroughly investigated.  Keeping in mind the varying forms of sexual misconduct, each case may be decided differently.  The College reserves the right to impose differing sanctions based upon the given evidence of each case.  The College may refer cases to the campus judicial system, if appropriate.   

    

Definition of Consent

Informed consent is the core of Westminster's sexual misconduct policy.  It is derived from the notion that humans are rational beings with the right to say what will and will not happen to them.  Sexual misconduct occurs when any form of sexual activity takes place without informed consent.  Informed consent is defined as a decisionally capacitated individual (a person who is capable of making a decision) freely and knowledgably agreeing to take part in any sexual activity.
 
Informed consent includes the following:

  1. All parties involved understand the nature of the sexual activity that is about to take place:This is best understood as "how far we are going to go." Consent (or the lack thereof) can be either verbal or non-verbal, but the absence of clear signals means that you cannot go any further.  A person who is passive, unresponsive, or actively resists is demonstrating defective or withdrawn consent. 

    Examples and Guidelines:

     - A person who consents to kissing does not automatically consent to further sexual activity, including intercourse.
     - Receive consent about a specific sexual activity prior to becoming increasingly more intimate.
     - When in doubt, ask, "Is this okay"? prior to advancing sexual activity.
  2.  Involved parties understand all of the potential risks:These risks include, but are not limited to, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy.  Failure to inform a partner of a STI, or actively lying about one, constitutes a breach of informed consent, as does deception about the presence/nature of birth control.

    Examples and Guidelines:

     - Discuss potential risks with your partner prior to engaging in sexual activity.
     - If you choose to become sexually active with another through sexual intercourse, select a mutually agreeable source of birth control. 
  3. Involved parties are able to freely express a choice: A person is capable of freely expressing a choice if and only if he or she is able to rationally analyze the situation according to a relatively stable set of personal values.  Significant quantities of drugs and alcohol place a person in an altered state of consciousness in which he or she is incapable of making rational decisions.

    Examples and Guidelines:
     - Individuals who are intoxicated or those under the influence of alcohol and other drugs/narcotics cannot give informed consent.

Permission and Responsibilities

  • Consent must be given for any and all sexual activities immediately prior to or at the time of the particular activity in question.  This includes any physical contact with the other person (e.g., intentionally touching another person's intimate parts without permission constitutes sexual assault).
  • If sexual activities are not mutually and simultaneously initiated, it is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain consent from the other person(s) involved. 
  • The obtaining of consent is an ongoing process: it is the responsibility of the initiator of each new level of sexual contact to obtain consent to that contact.
  • Consent may be withdrawn at any time, provided this withdrawal is communicated verbally or non-verbally to the other person. 
  • Just because a person consented to sexual activity sometime in the past does not mean that he or she gives consent to sexual activity in the present or future. 

When informed Consent Cannot Be Given

There are a few very specific situations where consent can never be given.  They are:

  • Consent cannot be given by a person who has been forced, threatened, or coerced.
  • Forcible compulsion includes the use of a substance administered without the knowledge or consent of the victim that produces physical or mental impairment, rendering the victim incapable of giving informed consent.  This includes taking advantage of a person who is already physically or mentally incapacitated (e.g., a person who has passed out after drinking too much).
  • Statutory rape takes place when a person aged twenty-one years or older engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of seventeen.  No child aged thirteen or younger may give consent to sexual activity of any kind.
  • Some mentally disabled persons cannot give effective consent if they are incapable of understanding the nature of the sexual situation in which they are placed.

Sexual Misconduct

Westminster College defines sexual misconduct as any nonconsensual sexual act which occurs between two or more individuals.  Sexual misconduct includes a wide array of incidents, the most extreme of which is sexual assault.  Further examples of sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Taking non-consensual advantage of another person for one's own or another's benefit.  Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Secret video or audio taping of sexual activity
    • Reproduction of a recorded consensual sexual act without consent for distribution (e.g. online posting of videos, photographs, or audios depicting a consensual sexual act);
    • Going beyond the boundaries of consent such as allowing others to secretly watch you engage in consensual sex or sexual activity;
    • Engaging in voyeurism (e.g. peeping Tom);
    • Knowingly transmitting an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) or HIV to another person;
    • Engaging in exhibitionism and intentionally exposing oneself in an unwelcomed manner;
    • Inducing physical incapacitation with the intent of engaging in sexual activity with another person.*  

      *Physically incapacitated persons include those who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless and incapable of giving effective consent.  Incapacitation may result from the voluntary or involuntary consumption of alcohol, or the use of other drugs, including date-rape drugs.
  2. Non-consensual physical contact of an indecent and/or unwelcomed type, including brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging and kissing.
  3. Actual or implied threats of contact of a sexual nature that result in another person's reasonable apprehension of a sexual assault and/or harm. 
  4. Sexual behavior that takes place as a result of pressure, threats, and/or intimidation, and/or that occurs without another person's effective consent.  In the most severe instances, this involves any form of sexual penetration. 

Prevention

Westminster College will take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent incidents of sexual misconduct from occurring, and will address those which do occur in a timely, professional and confidential manner.