Harassment Policy

 

Introduction

Kingsland University is a community for the intellectual exploration and teaching of disruptive technologies. Given the orientation of our teachings, Kingsland students exist on the cusp of innovation — pushing boundaries, and shifting norms. Accordingly, intellectual and expressive freedoms are integral to our teaching and learning processes. Ensuring those freedoms for each autonomous individual in attendance at Kingsland University includes preventing, correcting, and, where applicable, disciplining any discrimination, including harassment, as these infringements of student rights are directly contradictory to Kingsland’s integrity.

Sexual misconduct violates both the laws and standards of our community and will not be tolerated by Kingsland University. Anyone who believes they have experienced sexual misconduct of any kind is encouraged to report the incident and seek medical care and other appropriate means of support as soon as possible.

Basis and Application

This policy serves to express Kingsland University’s commitment to establishing and maintaining a legally compliant learning environment unburdened by discrimination, sexual harassment and other unlawful forms of harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. All students, program participants, staff, researchers, faculty, visiting or assisting lecturers, all other academic appointees, and volunteers are responsible for adhering to this policy and are covered by its provisions, as is anyone on whom the University has formally conferred a title, regardless of employment status.

Kingsland University provides educational material and resources regarding prevention of these crimes, as well as offers support services and referrals for anyone who has experienced unlawful harassment or other crimes against them addressed in this policy. We encourage our community to report incidents — a process we will facilitate — as this may assist in the discipline and/or prosecution of anyone whom University procedure determines to have violated this policy.

This policy applies to misconduct that occurs both on University property or off University property. Events that occur off University property fall under the jurisdiction of this policy if (a) the conduct occurred in connection with a University or University-sponsored or -recognized program or activity; or (b) the conduct has or reasonably may have the effect of creating a hostile educational or work environment for a member of the University community.  For example, this policy applies to misconduct that occurs between students during an off-campus party in a private residence, during a University-sponsored study abroad program, during research- or conference-based University-supported travel, or during off-site occupational work or training as part of Kingsland University studies. Misconduct that occurs off-campus and involves an alleged student perpetrator and an unaffiliated complainant is subject to investigation and adjudication, though the ultimate inquiry presented in such an investigation may be as to the threat to the campus community posed by the accused.

Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment

It violates University values to discriminate based on factors irrelevant to admission, employment, or program participation. Admission, employment, and program access are all determined on the basis of individual merit. Kingsland University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information or other protected classes under the law. Such discrimination is unlawful.

Harassment based on any of the above factors is defined as verbal or physical conduct or conduct using technology that is so severe or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational program participation, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

A person’s subjective belief that behavior is intimidating, hostile, or offensive does not make that behavior harassment, though anyone who believes they have experienced harassment — regardless of these definitions — is encouraged to report their experience and seek fitting support. Behavior that constitutes harassment must be objectively unreasonable. Academic freedom broadly protects expression occurring in an academic, educational or research context and as such this expression will not constitute harassment unless it is targeted at a specific person or persons, is abusive, serves no justifiable and authenticated academic purpose, and meets the outlined definition of harassment given above.

Harassment includes same-sex harassment and peer harassment among students, program participants, staff, researchers, faculty, visiting or assisting lecturers, all other academic appointees, volunteers, and anyone on whom the University has formally conferred a title, regardless of employment status. Of especial seriousness to Kingsland University is harassment by faculty members, instructors, teaching assistants or other personnel occupying authoritative positions of students or other classes of subordinate individuals.

Sexual Misconduct and Definitions of Prohibited Behavior

Sexual misconduct encompasses a range of conduct, from sexual assault (a criminal act that the U.S. Department of Education defines as a form of sexual harassment) to conduct such as unwanted touching or persistent unwelcome comments, e-mails, or pictures of an insulting or degrading sexual nature, which may also constitute unlawful harassment, depending upon the specific circumstances and context in which the conduct occurs. For example, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexually-directed remarks or behavior constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct becomes, explicitly or implicitly, a basis for an academic or employment decision, or a term or condition of either; or (2) such conduct directed against an individual persists despite its rejection.

In compliance with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”) and the Clery Act, Kingsland University uses the State of Georgia’s Criminal Code’s definitions of sexual assault and sexual abuse. The University incorporates the State’s definitions of several other important terms, including domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking and recognizes that sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are not gender-specific crimes. To aid searches, definitions are provided in alphabetical order.

“Accused” or “Respondent” means a person accused of conduct prohibited by this policy and does not imply pre-judgment.

“Consent” means voluntary, active and clear agreement, communicated by words or actions, to participate in specific sexual activity.  Consensual sexual activity happens when each participant willingly chooses to participate.

In cases where a victim asserts that sexual activity occurred without consent, the standard is whether a sober, reasonable person in the same circumstances as the respondent should have known that the victim did not or could not consent to the sexual activity in question.

Consent is such a critical factor that it has its own section in this policy.

“Dating violence” means the use or threat of use of physical, mental or emotional abuse, or sexual violence by a person who is in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

“Domestic violence” means harassment, interference with personal liberty, intimidation of a dependent, physical abuse, or willful deprivation by a person who is or was a family or household member of the victim. A family or household member includes: a spouse, former spouse, parent, child, stepchild, or other person related by blood or by present or prior marriage; a person who shares or formerly shared a common dwelling; a person who has or allegedly has a child in common or shares a blood relationship through a child; a person who has a dating or engagement relationship; a personal assistant to a person with a disability; and a caregiver.

“Force or threat of force” means the use of force or violence, or the threat of force or violence, including but not limited to (1) when the respondent threatens to use force or violence on the victim or on any other person, and the victim under the circumstances reasonably believes that the respondent has the ability to execute that threat or (2) when the respondent has overcome the victim by use of superior strength or size, physical restraint or physical confinement.

“Harassment” as a form of unlawful discrimination means verbal conduct, physical conduct, or conduct using technology that is based on a protected class and that is so severe or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational program participation, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

“Harassment” for purposes of domestic violence is knowing conduct that is not necessary to accomplish a purpose, would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person and does cause emotional distress to the victim.

“Interference with personal liberty” is committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, or willful deprivation to force a victim to engage in conduct from which that person has the right to abstain, or to abstain from conduct in which that person has a right to engage.

“Interim measures” are steps taken to ensure the safety of the complainant and/or University community before the final outcome of any investigation. Such measures may include changes to academic and extra-curricular activities, adjustments to living, transportation, dining, and working arrangements, issuing and enforcing no-contact orders, and honoring an order of protection or no-contact order entered by a State civil or criminal court.  Depending on the circumstances, interim measures may be modified, supplemented or withdrawn before, during or after the final outcome of any investigation.

“Intimidation of a dependent” is subjecting a person who is a dependent because of age, health or disability to participate in or to witness physical force, physical confinement or restraint of another person.

“Physical abuse” includes sexual abuse and means any of the following: (1) the knowing or reckless use of physical force, confinement, or restraint; (2) knowing, repeated, and unnecessary sleep deprivation; and/or (3) knowing or reckless behavior that creates an immediate risk of physical harm.

“Responsible employee” means any faculty member, other academic appointee, or staff employee who would reasonably be expected to have the authority or duty to report or take action to redress sexual misconduct. A responsible employee is obligated to promptly report sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator for the University.  Responsible employees include (among others) faculty and instructors, RAs, Resident Heads, Resident Masters, TAs, preceptors, administrative assistants, UCPD staff, and other university employees.

“Retaliation” means any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity. Retaliation against an individual for alleging harassment, supporting a party bringing a complaint, or assisting in providing information relevant to a claim of harassment is a serious violation of University policy and will be treated as another possible instance of harassment or discrimination. Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator for the University or Associate Dean of Students in the University for Disciplinary Affairs, and will be promptly investigated.

“Sexual abuse” means an act of sexual conduct:

  • By the use of force or threat of force; or
  • When the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent; or
  • Where the accused is under 17 years of age and the victim was at least 9 years of age but under 17 years of age when the act was committed; or
  • In which the accused delivered (by injection, inhalation, ingestion, transfer of possession, or any other means) to the victim without his or her consent, or by threat or deception, and for other than medical purposes, any controlled substance.

“Sexual assault” means an act of sexual penetration:

  • By the use of force or threat of force, including threatening or endangering the life of the victim or any other person; or
  • Where the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent; or
  • With a victim who was under age 17 when the act was committed, or with a victim who was under age 18 when the act was committed and the accused was age 17 or more and held a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim; or
  • In which the accused delivered (by injection, inhalation, ingestion, transfer of possession, or any other means) to the victim without his or her consent, or by threat or deception, and for other than medical purposes, any controlled substance.

“Sexual conduct” means any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by the victim or the accused, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, anus, or breast of the victim or the accused, or any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age, or any transfer or transmission of semen by the accused upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the victim, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the victim or the accused.

“Sexual penetration” means any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person and an object, the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal penetration.

“Stalking” means a course of conduct (two or more acts) directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her or his safety or the safety of a third person, or to suffer emotional distress. Stalking behavior includes, but is not limited to: following a person; appearing at a person’s home, work, or school; making unwanted phone calls; sending unwanted emails or text messages; leaving objects for a person; vandalizing a person’s property; injuring a person’s pet; and monitoring or placing a person under surveillance.

“Victim” means a person alleging to have been subjected to conduct prohibited by this policy and does not imply pre-judgment. The term “victim” is used interchangeably with the term “complainant” in this policy.

“Willful deprivation” is the purposeful denial of medication, medical care, shelter, food, or other assistance to a person who requires such things because of age, health or disability, thereby putting that person at risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm.

Understanding Consent

Consent is voluntary and clear agreement communicated actively through actions or speech to engage in specific sexual activity. Each participant must willingly choose to participate in order for sexual activity to be consensual. Consent may also be withdrawn or modified at any time by the use of clearly understandable words or actions.The definition of consent is applied equally to all people; it does not vary based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

As stated, consent serves as an agreement to engage in specific sexual activity. Accordingly, consent provided for one sex act may not be applicable to other acts and consent provided once does not convey consent for future activity. Partners must reach a mutual consensual agreement for any and all acts, in every instance that sexual activity is to take place. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in a sexual activity to obtain the consent of the other person for that sexual activity.

Consent is best obtained through direct communication about the decision to engage in specific sexual activity. Consent need not be verbal, but verbal communication is the most reliable and effective way to seek, assess, and obtain consent.  Non-verbal communication often is ambiguous, and thus may be misleading or altogether unreliable for conveying consent. Certain physiologic behaviors, such as heavy breathing for example, can represent arousal, but is also often associated with panic or distress. To be certain of your partner’s intentions are sentiments, talking with sexual partners about desires, intentions, boundaries and limits can be uncomfortable, but it serves as the best foundation for respectful, healthy, positive and safe intimate relationships.

In cases where a victim asserts that sexual activity occurred without consent, the standard is whether a sober, reasonable person in the same circumstances as the accused should have known that the victim did not or could not consent to the sexual activity in question.

Consent cannot be obtained through the threat of harm, coercion, intimidation, or by us or threat of force. Consent also cannot be derived from the absence of verbal or physical resistance. Silence including the absence of the word “no”, passivity, submission, and/or lack of resistance do not constitute consent.  Consent cannot be obtained from someone unable to understand the nature of the activity or give knowing consent as a result of certain circumstances, including incapacitation.

Mentally or physically incapacitated individuals lack the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity and/or lack the cognitive capacity to make or act on conscious decisions due to impaired judgement or perception. Instances of incapacitation include but are not limited to these circumstances:

  • The person is incapacitated due to the use or influence of alcohol or drugs, or due to a mental disability. Alcohol and drugs can impair judgment and decision-making capacity, including the ability to rationally consider the consequences of one’s actions.  The effects of alcohol and drug consumption often occur along a continuum. For example, alcohol intoxication can result in a broad range of effects, from relaxation and lowered inhibition to euphoria and memory impairment, and to disorientation and incapacitation.  Incapacitation due to alcohol or drug use is a state beyond “mere” intoxication or even being drunk. Indicators of incapacitation may include inability to communicate, lack of control over physical movements, and/or lack of awareness of circumstances. An incapacitated person can also experience a blackout state during which he or she appears to give consent but does not have conscious awareness or the capacity to consent. Some medical conditions also can cause incapacitation.
  • The person is asleep or unconscious.
  • The person is under the legal age of consent. In Illinois, the legal age of consent is 17 but rises to 18 if the accused holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim. This means that there can be no consent when one participant in the sexual activity is under the legal age of consent and any other participant is at or over the legal age of consent.

In sum, an act will be deemed non-consensual if a person engages in sexual activity with an individual who is incapacitated, and who the person knows or reasonably should know is incapacitated, or with an individual who is asleep, unconscious, or under the legal age of consent. The following points should always be considered regarding the obtainment of consent:

  • The existence of a romantic or sexual relationship does not, in and of itself, constitute consent.
  • Consent on a prior occasion does not constitute consent on a subsequent occasion.
  • Consent to one sexual act does not constitute consent to another sexual act.
  • Consent to sexual activity with one person does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity with another.
  • Consent cannot be inferred from a person’s manner of dress or other contextual factors, such as alcohol consumption, dancing, or agreement to go to a private location like a bedroom.
  • Accepting a meal, a gift, or an invitation for a date does not imply or constitute consent.
  • Silence, passivity, or lack of resistance alone or in combination does not constitute consent.
  • Incapacitation by the person initiating sexual activity does not in any way lessen his or her obligation to obtain consent.

Prevention and Education Programs

Kingsland University provides numerous education programs to prevent and promote awareness of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, rape, and acquaintance rape.  In addition to covering the information addressed in this policy, these programs will, among other things, provide information regarding options for bystander intervention and information on risk reduction strategies

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