What is Title IX?

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

You can look for the St. Olaf Title IX page on the website: https://wp.stolaf.edu/title-ix/

 

Why should I know about this?

 

Sexual harassment, misconduct or assault can be understood differently depending on the culture in which you learnt about it. However, it is important to understand how these terms are defined in the U.S. and especially on campus; how to find resources and get help if you are a victim of any of these crimes and to understand your rights as a student at St. Olaf. Title IX violations for international students can have severe immigration consequences so please make sure you understand these concepts. If you have questions you can always ask your International Student Counselor, any of the Wellness Center Peer Educators, or other appropriate staff. 

 

Terms and Definitions: https://wp.stolaf.edu/title-ix/policy/ 

 

  • Gender Discrimination

 

Gender discrimination is any distinction, preference, or detriment to an individual that is based upon the individual’s gender. It is conduct motivated by an individual’s gender that excludes an individual from participation in, denies the individual benefits of, treats the individual differently, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s participation in a St. Olaf program or activity.

Examples of gender discrimination include:  

  • Treating an employee or job applicant because of gender in decisions involving hiring, promotion, and job assignments;  
  • Treating a prospective or enrolled student adversely because of gender in decisions involving admissions, financial aid or scholarships, grades, academic assignments, or campus housing decisions;  
  • Denying or limiting volunteers or visitors from participating in programs or activities because of their gender. Because sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual exploitation can adversely affect an individual from participating in programs and activities, these are additional forms of gender discrimination.

 

  • Sexual Harassment

 

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when: submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s educational experience or employment, or the individual’s submission or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis of an educational program or activity decision or employment decision affecting such individual (“quid pro quo harassment”); or such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially and unreasonably interfering with an individual’s education or employment or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment (“hostile environment harassment”). Sexual harassment may include harassment based on stereotypical notions of what is female/feminine and male/masculine or a failure to conform to those gender stereotypes. 

Actions that can constitute sexual harassment include:  

  • Unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions;  
  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, obscene language, off-color jokes, verbal commentary about an individual’s body, sexual innuendo, and gossip about sexual relations;  
  • The display of derogatory or sexually suggestive posters, cartoons, drawings, objects, notes, letters, emails, or text messages;  
  • Visual conduct such as leering or making obscene gestures;  
  • Recording video or photographs of a sexual nature without consent;  
  • Cyber harassment, including but not limited to disseminating information, photos, or video of a sexual nature without consent;  
  • Engaging in the conduct of a sexual nature which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive academic or work environment (e.g., sexual assault, sexual exploitation, offensive physical contact, obscene messages and gestures); and  
  • Punishing or threatening to take adverse action against a subordinate or student for refusing to comply with sexual demands.

What is “consent”? See Definition #11 below. 

 

  • Sexual Assault

 

Sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sexual assault is any sexual contact with another person who does not or cannot give consent. This may or may not include force. 

Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to:  

  • Rape (the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of any person, without the consent of the victim);
  • Fondling (the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim);  
  • Incest (sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law);  
  • Statutory rape (sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent — age 16 in MN).

 

 

  • Sexual Violence

 

Sexual violence is a severe form of sexual harassment. It includes sexual assault, dating violence, and other forms of non-consensual sexual violence. Depending upon the circumstances, other forms of sexual violence may include domestic violence and stalking.

 

  • Sexual Exploitation

 

Sexual Exploitation is a form of sexual harassment that involves one or more of the following behaviors committed for any purpose, including sexual arousal or gratification, financial gain, or other personal benefits: taking sexual advantage of another person without consent; taking advantage of another’s sexuality; or extending the bounds of consensual Sexual Contact without the knowledge of the other individual.

Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening to disclose an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; observing another individual’s nudity or sexual contact, or allowing another to observe the same, without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • Non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual contact or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved;
  • Prostituting another individual;
  • Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infection, without the individual’s knowledge;
  • Knowingly failing to use contraception without the other party’s knowledge;
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of taking sexual advantage of another person.

 

  • Dating Violence

 

Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.

 

  • Domestic Violence

 

Domestic Violence is violence committed by an individual who is:

  • A current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
  • A person with whom the victim shares a child in common;  
  • Cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;  
  • Considered to be similar to a spouse under Minnesota’s domestic or family violence laws; or
  • Any other person subject to Minnesota’s domestic or family violence laws.

Minnesota law defines domestic violence to include violence committed between parents and children, blood relatives, persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and persons involved in a significant romantic relationship.

The following are examples of conduct that can constitute domestic violence: physical harm, bodily injury or assault; the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; terroristic threats; criminal sexual conduct; or interference with an emergency call.

 

  • Stalking

 

Stalking means engaging in two or more acts directed at a specific person that would cause reasonable people to: fear for their safety; fear for the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress. It includes actions such as following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or unreasonably communicating to or about a person, or interfering with a person’s property.

Examples of stalking behavior can include:  

  • Repeated, unwanted, intrusive, or frightening communications by phone, mail, text, email and/or social media;
  • Repeatedly leaving or sending unwanted items or gifts;
  • Following or lying in wait for the victim at places such as the victim’s residence hall, school activities, work, or recreational places;  
  • Making direct or indirect threats to harm the victim or the victim’s relatives, friends, or pets;  
  • Damaging or threatening to damage the victim’s property;  
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth; or  
  • Unreasonably obtaining personal information about the victim for no legitimate purposes.

Stalking behavior can also be a crime. Minnesota law defines stalking as “engaging in conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated, and causes this reaction on the part of the victim regardless of the relationship between the actor and victim.”

 

  • Retaliation

 

St. Olaf College strictly prohibits retaliation against individuals who report Prohibited Conduct or against individuals who assists in an investigation or adjudication of a report of Prohibited Conduct. Encouraging or assisting others to engage in retaliation also violates this Policy. Retaliation means any materially adverse words, actions, or threats against an individual who engages in protected activity that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in such protected activity. Protected activity includes an individual’s good faith: reporting of Prohibited Conduct; participation in an investigation or adjudication of reported Prohibited Conduct; or opposition to policies, practices, or actions that the individual reasonably believes are in violation of this Policy.

Retaliatory acts may include but are not limited to: adverse changes in employment status or opportunities; adverse academic action; adverse changes to academic, educational and extra-curricular opportunities; harassment or intimidation; acts or comments intended to embarrass the individual; or seeking out or attempting to discover the parties and witnesses involved in a report for the purpose of influencing their participation or statements or taking adverse action against them. Retaliation may be committed by either of the parties to the College’s complaint process, their friends or representatives, or any other individuals. Retaliatory conduct by community members and third-parties is prohibited regardless of whether it occurs on or off-campus, in person, or through social media, e-mail, or other forms of communication.

 

  •  Sexual Contact

 

Sexual contact is defined under Minnesota law as the intentional touching by an individual of another’s intimate parts (including an individual’s breasts, inner thighs, buttocks, genitals and/or groin area, whether clothed or unclothed); or the coerced touching by an individual of another’s private parts. Sexual contact also includes the intentional removal or attempted removal of clothing covering an individual’s private parts.

 

 

  • Consent

 

Consent is a verbal or overt action that clearly and positively communicates an agreement to engage in a sexual act. It is important that clear consent is given before attempting to engage in any sexual act. Although consent does not need to be verbal, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and obtaining consent. Even when consent is given, it may be retracted at any time. When consent is withdrawn, the sexual contact for which consent was initially provided must stop immediately. 

A person can only provide consent when that person:  

  • Acts freely and voluntarily, without coercion or force or otherwise feeling unduly pressured, threatened, intimidated;
  • Is informed about the nature of the sexual contact involved;
  • Is not incapacitated, whether from alcohol, other drugs, or other causes, such that he or she cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual contact;
  • Is conscious;
  • Is of legal age to consent (16 years old in Minnesota).

These requirements for consent mean that sexual contact with someone who is threatened, coerced, intimidated, uninformed, incapacitated, asleep, or otherwise unconscious, or not of legal age, is by definition sexual assault. Consent to a particular sexual contact must be clear and cannot be inferred.  

Still not quite sure what this means? Check out this video on consent as compared to offering a cup of tea.

 

  • Coercion or Force

 

Coercion or force includes conduct, intimidation, and express or implied threats of physical or emotional harm, that would reasonably place an individual in fear of immediate or future harm and that is used in order to persuade or compel someone to engage in sexual contact.

Examples of coercion or force include causing the deliberate incapacitation of another person; conditioning an academic benefit or employment advantage on submission to the sexual contact; threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in sexual contact; or threatening to disclose an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or other personal sensitive information if the other party does not engage in the sexual contact.

 

  • Incapacitation or Incapacitated

 

Incapacitation means the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments that are known or reasonably should have been known to the individual initiating sexual contact. An individual who is incapacitated is unable to give consent to sexual contact. States of incapacitation include sleep, unconsciousness, intermittent consciousness, or any other state where the individual is unaware that sexual contact is occurring. Incapacitation may also exist because of a mental or developmental disability that impairs the ability to consent to sexual contact. Alcohol or drug use is a common cause of incapacitation.

There are common signs that should alert a reasonable person as to whether an individual might be incapacitated. Typical signs include slurred or incomprehensible speech, clumsiness, difficulty walking, combativeness, emotional volatility, vomiting, or incontinence. A person who is incapacitated may not be able to understand some or all of the following questions: “Do you know where you are?” “Do you know how you got here?” “Do you know what is happening?” “Do you know who I am?” If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of one’s own or the other individual’s intoxication or incapacitation, the safest course of action is to forgo or cease any sexual contact. 

 

Campus Resources

Two types of campus resources provide ongoing support for anyone affected by sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct:

  • Confidential resources are not required to disclose to anyone else the information you share with them unless that information involves the abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult or an imminent threat to someone’s life.
  • All other college employees, including student employees in their work-related roles, are required to report to the college any information they receive concerning sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct, even if you ask them to keep the information confidential. (However, a report to the college is different from a formal complaint, which results in an investigation and, potentially, disciplinary action, depending on the outcome of the investigation.)

Anyone who has experienced discrimination, harassment, or misconduct is strongly encouraged to report to the college in order to receive support and assistance, and in order for the college to intervene to stop the behavior and prevent it from occurring in the future. However, if you are not sure that you want to report to the college, or if you want assistance in doing so, you are encouraged to contact a confidential resource first.

 

Confidential Resources

(generally not required to report to the college)

St. Olaf Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN)

St. Olaf Counseling Center

St. Olaf College Pastors

St. Olaf Student Health Service

 

Other Campus Resources

(generally required to report to the college)

Kari Hohn, St. Olaf Title IX Coordinator

Members of the St. Olaf Title IX Team

Any trusted faculty or staff member

 

Please let me or any of the other counselors know if you have any questions about Title IX.