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Discriminatory Harassment

4. Discriminatory Harassment

Students, staff, administrators, and faculty are entitled to a working environment and educational environment free of discriminatory harassment. MICA's harassment policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane but controversial or sensitive subject matters protected by academic freedom. The sections below describe the specific forms of legally prohibited harassment that are also prohibited under the College's policy.

4.1 Discriminatory and Bias-Related Harassment

Harassment constitutes a form of discrimination that is prohibited by law. The College harassment policy explicitly prohibits any form of harassment, defined as unwelcome conduct on the basis of an individual's actual or perceived membership in a protected class.

MICA condemns and will not tolerate discriminatory harassment against any employee, student, visitor or guest on the basis of any status protected by College policy or law. The College will remedy all forms of harassment when reported, and may impose sanctions for violation of this policy, whether or not the harassment constitutes unlawful discrimination.

A hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is sufficiently persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits, or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities or employment access, benefits or opportunities.

MICA reserves the right to address offensive conduct that does not violate this policy (e.g., is not on the basis of a protected status) through appropriate discipline, facilitated conversation, remedial actions, education, and/or effective conflict resolution mechanisms. For assistance with conflict resolution techniques, employees should contact the Employee Relations Director, Laura Rossi, and students should contact the Associate Dean for Student Health and Wellness.

4.2 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and, therefore, is an unlawful discriminatory practice. For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  •  Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual's instruction, employment, or participation in any College activity
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting that individual.  Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Some examples of possible Sexual Harassment include:

  • A professor insists that a student have sex in exchange for a good grade. This is harassment regardless of whether the student accedes to the request.
  • A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes around on an email list s/he created, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on campus and in the residence hall in which they both live.
  • Two supervisors frequently "rate" several employees' bodies and sex appeal, commenting suggestively about their clothing and appearance.
  • A professor engages students in class in discussions about their past sexual experiences, yet the conversation is not in any way pertinent to the subject matter of the class. The professor probes for explicit details, and demand that students answer, though they are clearly uncomfortable and hesitant.
  • An individual widely spreads false stories about their sex life with their former partner. The former partner is clearly uncomfortable and feels that they have been viewed as a social pariah on campus.

Anyone experiencing sexual harassment at MICA or any program/activity associated with MICA is encouraged to report it immediately to MICA's Title IX Coordinator or to any deputy coordinator.

4.3 Consensual RelationshipsIn the view of the College, all employees are considered to have professional responsibility for students. Therefore, relationships between students and employees (faculty, administrator, or staff) are prohibited.

There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions (such as faculty and student, supervisor and employee). These relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position
confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of a violation of applicable sections of this policy.

Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party maintains a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are unethical. Therefore, employees (including student employees and graduate teaching assistants) with direct supervisory or evaluative responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must promptly inform their supervisor and Human Resources of the relationship. This report will likely result in a change in supervisory or evaluative responsibility. Failure to self-report such relationships to a supervisor and/or Human Resources as required can result in disciplinary action for an employee.

4.4 Sexual Misconduct 

State law defines various violent and/or non-consensual sexual acts as crimes. These definitions are found in Appendix A of this document. Additionally, MICA has defined categories of sexual misconduct, as stated below, for which action under this policy may be imposed. In general, the College considers Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse violations to be the most serious and therefore typically imposes the most severe sanctions, including suspension or expulsion for students and termination for employees, for these offenses. However, MICA reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any act of sexual
misconduct or other gender-based offenses, including intimate partner or relationship (dating and/or domestic) violence, non-consensual sexual contact, and stalking, based on the facts and circumstances of the complaint.

Acts of sexual misconduct may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity of those involved. Violations include:

4.4.1 Sexual Harassment

4.4.2 Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Defined as: Any sexual penetration, however slight, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object,
and oral sex by mouth to genital contact.

4.4.3 Non-Consensual Sexual ContactDefined as: Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, that is without consent and/or by force.

Sexual touching includes contact with the breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.

4.4.4 Sexual Exploitation

Sexual Exploitation refers to a situation in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another but the conduct does not fall within the definitions of Sexual Harassment, Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse or Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person undressing, using the bathroom orengaged in sexual acts without the consent of the person observed)
  • Taking pictures or video or audio recording another in a sexual act, or in any other private activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity)
  • Disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person's consent
  • Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD/STI) and without informing the other person of the disease or infection.
  •  Administering alcohol or drugs (such as "date rape" drugs) to another person without the individual's knowledge or consent

Resources and Reporting Options for Sexual Misconduct and Gender Based Violence

4.4.5 Consent

Consent is the knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct.

A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has violated this policy. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. A person can withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity by expressing in words or actions that they no longer wants the act to continue, and, if that happens, the other person must stop immediately.

It is not an excuse that the individual responding party of sexual misconduct was intoxicated and, therefore, did not realize the incapacity of the other. Incapacitation is defined as a state in which someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because the individual lacks the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the "who, what, when, where, why or how" of their sexual interaction). This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, involuntary physical restraint and/or from the taking of incapacitating drugs.

Last Updated 2.2.16

This page was last updated on 09/08/2016.