Complainant | Respondent | Mandatory ReporterUSHIBWitnesses | Complaint | Preponderance of Evidence  | Sanctions | Consent | CoercionDating Violence | Domestic Violence | Incapacitation |  Stalking

Definitions of Key Parties

Complainant: The Complainant is any individual (whether a WashU student, faculty, staff or an individual outside of our WashU community) who reports behavior that may constitute a violation of the University Student Conduct Code (USCC) and initiates a complaint.

Respondent: The Respondent is an individual reported in a Complaint to have violated the USCC.

Mandatory Reporter: A Mandatory Reporter is 1) any WashU employee who has the authority to take action to redress sexual harassment, or 2) any WashU employee that a student could reasonably believe has the authority to do so.

A Mandatory Reporter has a duty to report all incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking or other misconduct that violates the USCC to the Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office.

These individuals include, but are not limited to: all WashU faculty members, WashU Residential Life employees, WashU athletic coaches and trainers, WashU academic deans, WashU advisors and WashU Assistants to Course Instructors. Any employee who can help a student is considered a Mandatory Reporter.

USHIB: The University Sexual Harassment Investigation Board (USHIB) is comprised of faculty, staff, and students appointed by the Chancellor who are trained to investigate Complaints involving reports of sexual assault and some reports of sexual harassment, domestic/dating violence and stalking. The USHIB investigates and decides the outcome of Complaints referred to it by the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

Witnesses: Witnesses are individuals who may have seen the alleged conduct or have other information related to an investigation. The Complainant and Respondent are encouraged to provide the Investigator with names of potential witnesses who could provide additional information to the investigation.

Procedural Terms

Complaint: The submission of information to the Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office reporting a violation of the USCC involving sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking. Complaints can be filed by students, faculty, staff or third parties.

Preponderance of Evidence: In order for the Respondent to be found responsible for violating the USCC or other WashU policies, the evidence must show that it is more likely than not that the Respondent committed the reported violations.

The concept of “preponderance of the evidence” can be visualized as a scale, with the totality of evidence presented by each side resting on the respective trays on either side of the scale. If the scale tips ever so slightly to one side or the other, the heavier side will prevail. If the scale does not tip toward either side the Respondent will prevail.

Sanctions: Consequences imposed after a finding of responsibility through the USHIB process or the USCC process. A list of possible sanctions can be found in Section VI of the USCC.

Additional Definitions   

Consent: Consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. In the absence of such words and/or actions, consent does not exist.

Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of physical resistance, or lack of verbal refusal alone.

Consent to engage in sexual activity must be knowing and voluntary. For example, when any participant is physically forced, passed out, asleep, unconscious or beaten, sexual activity is not knowing and voluntary and, therefore, not consensual. Sexual activity that is coerced is also not knowing and voluntary and, therefore, not consensual.

Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from the beginning to the end of each instance of sexual activity, and for each form of sexual contact. Consent may be withdrawn by either party, at any time.

An individual who is incapacitated is unable to give consent. In such circumstances, the Respondent will be held responsible if the Respondent either knew or a reasonable person in the same position would have known that the other party was incapacitated and therefore could not consent to the sexual activity.

Coercion: Any words or conduct that eliminate the other person’s ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity is considered coercion. Examples of coercion could include the following (so long as the conduct rises to a level that eliminates the other person’s ability to choose whether to engage in sexual activity): threats, whether expressed or implied, of substantial emotional or psychological harm or any physical harm, confinement, or other similar conduct.

Dating Violence: 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 reporting party’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.

For the purposes of this definition:

  • Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
  • Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence: A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed:

  • By a current or former spouse, or intimate partner of the victim;
  • By a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
  • By a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
  • By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or
  • By 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 the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.

Incapacitation: Incapacitation is the inability – whether temporarily or permanently – to give consent because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to a medical condition or the voluntary or involuntary consumption of drugs and/or alcohol, or because the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring.

Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  • Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
  • Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the 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 means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  • ‘Reasonable person’ means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  • ‘Substantial emotional distress’ means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.