Definition of Sexual Misconduct

Davidson College ("Davidson" or the "College") does not condone and will not tolerate sexual misconduct, sexually exploitative or harassing behavior of any kind, stalking, or relationship abuse or violence.  The College community is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is not only free of sexual misconduct, stalking, and relationship abuse and violence, but which promotes a healthy spirit of responsibility, dignity, and respect in matters of sexual conduct and interpersonal relationships.  Davidson students share an ethical tradition of abiding by the highest moral standards, taking responsibility for their actions, and treating people with integrity and respect. 

Definition of "Sexual Misconduct"

For purposes of this policy "Sexual Misconduct" includes any non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature and sexually exploitative behavior.  "Non-consensual" means without either explicit verbal consent or overt action clearly expressing consent.  Such signals of consent must be mutual and ongoing, as well as offered freely and knowingly.  If at any time during a sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to stop and clarify the other's willingness to continue.  Non-communication constitutes lack of consent.  As well, a verbal "no," even if it may sound indecisive or insincere, constitutes a lack of consent.

Likewise, incapacitation constitutes a lack of consent.  By definition, it is not possible for a person to give consent if incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, or other physical or mental impairment; or if they have been threatened or coerced into giving their consent; or if the person is under the age of 16.  Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is incapacitated is considered by law and the College to be Sexual Misconduct.  Such behavior runs contrary to the College community's expectation to respect the inherent worth and dignity of another human being.  Indications of consent are irrelevant if the person is incapacitated. 

Examples of incapacitation include, but are not limited to, being highly intoxicated, passed out, or asleep.  Indicators of incapacitation may include the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot or unfocused eyes
  • Unsteady gait
  • Vomiting
  • Outrageous or unusual behavior
  • Concern expressed by others about the individual
  • Expressed memory loss or disorientation

Consumption of alcohol, in and of itself, does not relieve a party of responsibility to obtain ongoing consent.

Sexual Misconduct encompasses a broad range of behavior, from inappropriate touching to criminal sexual assault.  The gender identity of the parties involved is irrelevant.  It includes, but is not limited to, any of the following, if non-consensual:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Penetration of anybody opening with any object, no matter how slight
  • Touching of intimate body parts such as genitalia, groin, breast, buttocks, or mouth or any clothing covering them
  • The removal of another person's clothes
  • Touching a person with one's own intimate body parts
  • Compelling another to touch one's intimate body parts

For purposes of this policy, Sexual Misconduct also includes sexually exploitative behavior, which occurs when a student takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own benefit, or to benefit anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, engaging in voyeurism; forwarding of pornographic or other sexually inappropriate material via email or otherwise to non-consenting students/groups; and any activity that goes beyond the boundaries of consent, such as recording of sexual activity, letting friends watch consensual sex, and knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student.

For purposes of this policy, Sexual Misconduct also includes sexual harassment.  Harassment is conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person's work or educational opportunity; creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment; or otherwise negatively affects an employee's or student's work or educational opportunities.  Sexual harassment denies an individual dignity and respect and may take on different forms.  It includes, but is not limited to:

Unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of that individual's gender (or that of an individual's relatives, friends, or associates);

Unwelcome threats, derogatory comments, jokes, innuendos, insults, slurs, epithets, negative stereotyping, and other similar conduct that relates to gender; or

The placement, dissemination, or circulation on campus of any unwelcome written or graphic material (in hard copy or electronic form) that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of gender.

Sexual harassment may further include unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature where:

Submission to or tolerance of such conduct is made either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment or student admissions, enrollment, participation, and programming;

Submission to or tolerance or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or for academic, athletic, or other educational decisions affecting an individual;

The conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work or academic, athletic, or other educational performance; or

The conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

If an individual has welcomed sexual advances or other harassing conduct (whether sexual or otherwise) by active participation in or encouragement of such activity, he or she should specifically inform the alleged harasser if such conduct is no longer welcome in order for any subsequent conduct to be deemed unwelcome.  However, failure to give such notice in no way prevents the college from taking appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action against the alleged harasser for his or her behavior.

Definition of "Relationship Abuse and Violence"

For purposes of this policy, "Relationship Abuse and Violence" means coercion, abuse or violence between partners in a personal, intimate relationship.  The coercive, abuse, or violent behaviors can be physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, and/or emotional.  Relationship Abuse and Violence can occur between current or former intimate partners who have dated, lived together, or been married.  The gender identity of the parties involved is irrelevant.   

Relationship Abuse and Violence encompasses a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to, any of the following, if it occurs between current or former intimate partners:

Attempting to cause or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact;

Coercion used to compel another to act as directed or otherwise exercise control and power;

Attempting to place or placing another person in fear through a course of conduct, including threatening, manipulating, intimidating, verbally and/or emotionally abusive behaviors, or exhibiting extreme possessiveness or jealousy;

Repeated telephonic or other forms of communication - anonymously or directly - using coarse language or threats in order to intimidate, terrify, annoy, harass, threaten, or offend;

Knowingly restricting the movements of another person, including removing a person from residence; isolating or confining a person for a substantial period of time; depriving a person of personal freedom of movement or access to friends, family, or support systems;

Forcible denial of use or access to owned or shared assets, or limiting or controlling access to educational or work opportunities; and/or

Sexual assault or harassment. 

Definition of "Stalking"

For purposes of this policy, "Stalking" is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that is unwanted, unwelcome, or unreciprocated and that would cause a reasonable person to: (a) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress.  A "course of conduct" means the commission of an additional incident(s) after the initiator has been given notice that the conduct is unwanted, unwelcome, or unreciprocated.  The following are examples of stalking behavior:

Unwelcome communication and/or contact; unwelcome gifts or flowers, etc.

Threatening or obscene gestures and/or pursuing or following;




Unwelcome touching or physical contact; and/or

Gaining unauthorized access to personal, medical, financial, and/or other identifying information.

The Davidson College Student Sexual Misconduct Policy sets forth and governs procedures for charges involving Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Relationship Abuse and Violence.