II. Definitions

(Back to Sexual Misconduct Protocol Table of Contents)

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad umbrella term used to identify a number of forms of discrimination based on sex.

Sexual misconduct includes:

  1. Sexual harassment,
  2. Sexual assault,
  3. Sexual exploitation, and
  4. Dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking when those acts are perpetrated against a person because of their sex.

This protocol also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

A violation of this protocol will be found when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made as express or implicit term or condition of an individual's employment, performance, appraisal, or evaluation of academic performance; or
  2. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive working or academic environment.

Sexual Harassment

Defined in Interim Title IX Policy and Procedure.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as:

  1. Sex Offenses, Forcible: Any sexual act directed against another person without the consent of the Complainant, including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.
  2. Forcible Rape: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the Complainant.

See the Interim Title IX Policy and Procedure for a full definition.

Examples of behaviors that may constitute sexual assault include the following:

  • Having sex with a mentally or physically incapacitated person
  • Forcing someone to perform oral sex on you or another.
  • Touching someone's breasts without consent.
  • Putting your intimate parts on or in another without consent.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes advantage of another without that individual's consent for the initiator's own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses.

Examples of behaviors that may constitute sexual exploitation include the following:

  • Prostituting another.
  • Allowing a third party to watch consensual sexual contact without the permission of both parties involved in the sex act.
  • Recording a voluntary sex act without the other person's knowledge or permission or showing voluntarily recorded sexual activity to others without knowledge or permission.
  • Knowingly giving another a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or HIV.
  • Allowing others to have sex with an incapacitated person.

Dating Violence

Dating violence is defined as violence on the basis of sex committed by a person who is in or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant.

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.

For the purposes of this definition:

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

Examples of behaviors that may constitute dating violence include the following:

  • Taking away a person's cell phone during an argument in order to prevent the person from calling a friend or the police for help.
  • Threatening to do self-harm if another does not do what is said.
  • Threatening to physically assault someone the individual is dating if the person does not do what is said.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence* ("Family Violence" under Texas law) is defined as violence, on the basis of sex committed by a:

  1. Current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant, or
  2. Person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, or
  3. Person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, or
  4. Person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of Texas13, or
  5. Any other person against an adult or youth Complainant who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of Texas.

Examples of behaviors that may constitute domestic violence include the following:

  • Hitting, punching, pinching, slapping, or choking someone with whom the person is intimately involved.
  • Violating a protective order.
  • Harming a person's animals or children while in an intimate relationship.


Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct, on the basis of sex, directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  1. fear for the person’s safety, or the safety of others; or
  2. suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of this definition:

  1. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent 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.
  2. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
  3. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. 

Examples of stalking  include the following:

  • Being followed, spied on, or watched at home, or at work.
  • Receiving unwanted phone calls, text messages, letters, or gifts, or having restraining or protective orders violated.

Other Misconduct Offenses

Will Fall Under Title IX when Gender-based

  1. Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;
  2. Discrimination, defined as actions that deprive other members of the community of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities on the basis of gender;
  3. Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another;
  4. Hazing means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization if the act:
    1. Is any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity.
    2. Involves sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, or other similar activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student.
    3. Involves consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance, other than as described by item 5, that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student.
    4. Is any activity that induces, causes, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Penal Code.
    5. Involves coercing, as defined by Penal Code 1.07, the student to consume a drug or an alcoholic beverage or liquor in an amount that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the student is intoxicated, as defined by Penal Code 49.01. (Policy FLBC(Legal))
  5. Bullying, defined as repeated and/or severe aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally (that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the 1st Amendment). (Defined further in Policy FFE(Local)).

Updated January 20, 2023