Roanoke College

What is Sexual Misconduct?


Sexual misconduct refers to unwelcome sexual words or conduct that have the effect of denying or limiting a community member from participating in or experiencing the benefits of our educational program.  Sexual misconduct includes both specific instances when equitable participation in the community is conditioned by unwelcome sexual conduct (for example, if a coach says, "If you want playing time, you will have to sleep with me") and incidents where that participation is jeopardized by the creation of a hostile educational environment through unwelcome sexual words or conduct (for example, you are unable to attend class because a fellow student continually pressures you to have sex).

Both men and women can perpetrate sexual misconduct; both men and women can be victims of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct can be perpetrated against a person of the same or different sex.  All community members, regardless of sex, gender identification, and sexual orientation, are equally protected from sexual misconduct.

A hallmark of sexual misconduct is that it is unwelcome. Participants in sexual acts demonstrate that sexual contact is welcome by giving consent.  Words or actions that clearly demonstrate a knowing and voluntary willingness to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity constitute consent. Consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring objections, or by taking advantage of another's incapacitation. Consent may not be inferred from silence or any other lack of active resistance. It may not be implied by attire or inferred from an individual spending money on another. Prior consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts, and consent to one type of sexual act does not imply consent to another type of sexual act. Consent may also be withdrawn at any time, at which point sexual contact must end. The person who initiates sexual contact has the responsibility to obtain consent from the other person. Community members are encouraged to obtain verbal consent to avoid misunderstandings.


Consent may never be given by:

Individuals who are threatened or intimidated by physical force or violence. It does not matter what the threatened individual says, any apparent consent ("do whatever you want, just don't kill me") is considered invalid due to the application or threat of violence.

Individuals who are incapacitated at the time of sexual contact.  Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments; in this context an incapacitated individual would be unable to understand the nature or consequences of the sexual activity involved.  Incapacitation may be caused by a permanent or temporary physical or mental impairment; it may also result from alcohol or drug consumption.

Individuals who are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate through words or actions;

Minors-any person under the age of 18 years.

The use or threat of force to have sexual contact with a person is a violation of this policy. A person who knowingly has sexual contact with someone who is unable to give consent has violated this policy.  The test of whether an individual should know about one's incapacitation is whether a reasonable person would know about the incapacitation.


Below are some types of sexual misconduct:


Sexually Harassing Behavior-persistent, pervasive, or severe conduct or speech that is connected to a person's sex, gender identification, or sexual orientation, and that limits a person's ability to participate in or benefit from being a member of the Roanoke College community by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.  Sexual Harassment includes, but is not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, gestures, looks, spreading sexual rumors, and gender-based bullying.

Sexual coercion-pressure to convince someone to engage in sexual activity; coercion may include intimidation or threats of any form of retaliation.

Stalking/cyber stalking-a pattern of non-consensual sexually-related conduct that causes reasonable alarm or fear of harm; this conduct may take place through a person's physical proximity or through written and electronic media.

Sexual exploitation-a non-consensual act by which one attempts to achieve one's own sexual gratification or financial gain, or by which one attempts to induce shame or physical suffering to another through abusing his or her sexuality. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to observing/recording other's sexual activity without consent; forcing another person to commit prostitution; failing to inform a partner before sexual contact that one has a sexually transmittable virus or infection.

Complicity-assisting or encouraging another in a violation of this policy.

Sexual Contact-any non-consensual, non-accidental sexual touching; this includes contact with any object.

Sexual Assault-also termed "Sexual Violence"; any non-consensual sexual intercourse (which includes vaginal penetration, anal penetration, and oral copulation); this includes penetration with any object.