St. John's Policies
Sexual Misconduct Policy
The purpose of the Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures for the St. John’s University Community is to ensure that all community members live, work and learn in a safe and respectful environment free from any form of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct includes a broad range of behaviors that will not be tolerated in the University’s education programs or activities. The University strictly prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, including the offenses of sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking (collectively, “sexual misconduct”). The University also prohibits retaliation against a person for the good faith reporting of any alleged violation or for participating in any investigation or hearing. You can read the full text of the Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures on St. John’s website.
The health and safety of every student at the University is of utmost importance. The University realizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that sexual misconduct occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. The University strongly encourages students to promptly report any incident of sexual misconduct to University officials. A bystander acting in good faith or a reporting individual acting in good faith who discloses any incident of sexual misconduct to University officials or law enforcement will not be subject to the University’s Code of Conduct for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the sexual misconduct.
St. John's Definitions
Affirmative Consent is defined as a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The following principles will be used to help evaluate whether affirmative consent was given:
- Consent to one form of sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other forms of sexual activity or to sexual activity in the future.
- A current or previous dating relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.
- Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time during sexual activity by expressing in words or actions that they no longer want the sexual activity to continue.
- Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
- Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force or threat of harm.
- In accordance with New York state law, a person who is less than 17 years of age is incapable of consenting to sexual activity.
- When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.
Dating violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
Domestic violence means a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by (i) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, (ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, (iii) a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, (iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of New York, or (v) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of New York.
Intimidation means unlawfully placing another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack.
Retaliation means taking any adverse action or attempting to take adverse action, including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against an individual because of the individual’s complaint of sexual misconduct or participation in an investigation or proceeding related to alleged sexual misconduct.
Sexual assault includes non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact.
- “Non-consensual sexual intercourse” means any form of sexual penetration or intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral), however slight, with any body part or object by an individual upon another individual without consent and/or by force.
- “Non-consensual sexual contact” means any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object by an individual upon another individual without consent. Intentional sexual contact includes contact with the breasts, buttocks, or groin, or touching another with any of these body parts; making another person touch any of these body parts; and any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner.
Sexual coercion is the application of unreasonable pressure, including emotionally or physically manipulative actions or statements, or direct or implied threats, in order to compel the person to engage in sexual activity.
Sex discrimination is an act that disadvantages a person and that occurs because of the affected individual’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Examples of sex discrimination include, but are not limited to, denying a student a research opportunity because of the student’s gender; giving a student a lower grade than s/he deserved because of the student’s gender; denying an employee a raise or promotion because of the employee’s gender.
Sexual exploitation means any act whereby one person takes sexual advantage of another who has not provided consent. Sexual exploitation occurs when the perpetrator acts for his or her own advantage or benefit, or for the benefit or advantage of anyone other than the person being exploited. Sexual exploitation includes the exposure of one’s self to another person without that person’s consent; it also includes recording, photographing, transmitting, viewing or distributing intimate or sexual images or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved, observing others who are engaged in intimate or sexual situations without permission, acts of incest, or engaging in consensual activity with another person while knowingly infected with HIV or some other sexually transmitted disease without informing the other person of such infection.
Sexual harassment means unwelcome conduct, based on sex or on gender stereotypes, that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education or campus life activities, or used as the basis of any academic, student life or employment decision (quid pro quo or “this for that”); or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive such that it limits an individual’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, the University’s education or work programs or activities, thus creating a hostile environment.
- A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the University’s education or employment programs and/or activities when judged against a reasonable person standard.
- In evaluating whether a hostile environment exists, the University will consider the totality of known circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- The frequency, nature and severity of the conduct;
- Whether the conduct was an isolated incident or repeated;
- Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
- The effect of the conduct on the complainant’s mental or emotional state;
- Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
- The relationship of the individuals involved in the conduct;
- Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
- Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the complainant’s educational or work performance and/or University programs or activities; and
- Whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or protected speech.
Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, posting sexually explicit or offensive material that does not serve an academic purpose; obscene or sexually offensive gestures and comments; lewdness; repeatedly subjecting a person to unwelcome sexual attention or sexual advances; requesting sexual favors; conditioning a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; engaging in inappropriate or unnecessary touching or rubbing against another; or making sexually suggestive or degrading jokes.
Sexual misconduct includes exposing a person to a range of unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by intimidation, coercion, threat or force. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, as well as people involved in intimate or sexual relationships. Sexual misconduct can occur between individuals of the same gender or opposite gender and in heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: (1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (2) suffer substantial emotional distress. For purposes of this definition:
- “Course of conduct” means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or other means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person's property.
- “Substantial emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
- “Reasonable person” means reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
Similar conduct to what is defined above may also violate New York State laws and subject an individual to criminal prosecution. Sex Offenses under New York law are described in Sections 130.00 to 130.96 of the New York State Penal Code.Back to top
Your Title IX Rights
Title IX is a federal law that protects students against sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence regardless of the student’s real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual violence you have an additional set of rights and protections under Title IX. (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681)
Your school must:
- Have a clear published procedure for responding to reports of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence.
- Have a Title IX Coordinator to handle complaints. The Coordinator’s contact information should be readily available.
- Inform you of your reporting options, including notifying you of your right to report to the police and supporting you through this process should you choose to do so.
- Allow you to have an advisor you choose present throughout the process.
- Allow you to present evidence against the perpetrator(s) and/or bring in witnesses.
- Give you timely access to any information that will be used in a hearing.
- Allow you to attend any pre-hearing meetings that would give you and the perpetrator(s) a chance to testify.
- Provide you with any final decision made as the result of a hearing in writing at the same time as the perpetrator(s), and allow you to appeal that decision.
- Use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when determining the outcome of a complaint. This means the perpetrator(s) should be found responsible if the investigation shows it is more likely than not that the violence occurred.
- Conclude any investigation within a semester’s time of the report being filed.
- Support you in obtaining a no-contact order that prevents the perpetrator from contacting or interacting with you, whether directly or indirectly. Campus safety or police should enforce any no-contact order obtained.
- Make any reasonable changes to your housing, class schedule, campus job, and/or extracurricular activity schedule to enable you to continue your education in a non-hostile environment. These accommodations should be made at no cost to you and cannot overburden you or limit your educational opportunities. The changes can be in place before, during, and after a complaint is filed, investigated, and adjudicated.
- Provide you with tutoring, counseling, or other remedies at no cost to you if you need them to continue your education.
- Protect you from retaliation or harassment of any kind due to your report.
Your school may not:
- Force you to report to the police.
- Discourage you from continuing to pursue your education. This includes telling you to take a leave of absence or to drop a club or class.
- Wait to conduct an investigation until the conclusion of an ongoing legal investigation.
- Retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
- Make you sign a non-disclosure agreement for the result of the hearing.
- Encourage or allow mediation to take the place of a formal disciplinary process in cases of sexual violence.
If you believe your Title IX rights have been or are being violated, you can contact your Title IX Coordinator and/or report to the Department of Education at [email protected].Back to top