Definitions – General

Pacific Lutheran University, for the purposes of this policy, defines the following terms as follows. Please note that some of these terms may also be used in other contexts, and that they may have different meanings in those contexts.

Impacted Party

The individual(s) having been affected by the alleged Prohibited Conduct.


The individual complaining of Prohibited Conduct. 

  • Reed College Definition of Complainant: “An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute Sexual Harassment.”
  • Wichita State U: Complainant “means an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.


The individual accused of Prohibited Conduct.

  • Wichita State University: “Respondent means an individual who has been reported to have engaged in conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination as defined within this policy; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.”
  • Reed College: “An individual alleged to have violated College policy, who has been named as such in a report or a formal complaint.”


The Complainant and Respondent, as referred to collectively.

Formal Complaint

A signed or affirmed document, electronic or written, alleging a policy violation of PLU’s Prohibited Conduct as outlined in this Sexual Misconduct policy requesting the institution to investigate.

Informal Resolution

An alternate resolution method, if both parties are students, for addressing a Formal Complaint facilitated by a trained, unbiased third party facilitator. This option requires both parties to agree to this process voluntarily.

Sexual Activity

Intentional contact with the breast, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making someone touch another person with or on any of these body parts; any other intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner. Intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object. In the context of this policy, Sexual Activity may also include the conduct preliminary to or involved in Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, and Sexual Intimidation.


Consent is permission explicitly granted by an individual who is physically and mentally capable of providing it. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in Sexual Activity to ensure that they have the valid Consent of the other to engage in the activity. PLU further defines Consent to include the following:

  • Consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as Consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear and mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of Sexual Activity.
  • Consent to one form of Sexual Activity cannot imply Consent to other forms of Sexual Activity, even within the same intimate situation. Previous relationships or Consent cannot imply Consent to future Sexual Activity.
  • Consent cannot be procured by use of force, threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion.
  • Some individuals are unable to give Consent by reason of Incapacity or Physical Helplessness (defined below). It is a violation of this policy to engage in Sexual Activity with someone you know to be, or should have known to be, Incapacitated or Physically Helpless.


For the purpose of this policy, Incapacity is a condition existing at the time of the incident which prevents a person from understanding the nature or consequences of the Sexual Activity whether that condition is produced by the influence of a substance, or from some other cause. Incapacity is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because that individual lacks the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of the sexual interaction.

The use of alcohol or drugs can prevent an individual from giving valid Consent, even if the person appears to agree to Sexual Activity in the moment. Incapacity may also result from the influence of substances commonly known as “date rape” drugs. Possession, use, and/or distribution of any “date rape” substances, including, without limitation, Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another individual is a violation of PLU policy, and possibly local and federal law. Incapacity may also result from, without limitation, developmental disability, mental disorder, chemical dependency, and/or age.

Physical Helplessness

Physical Helplessness refers to a person who is asleep, unconscious, or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate, verbally or nonverbally, valid Consent.


Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to obtain Consent from another. When someone makes it clear that they do not want to engage in Sexual Activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive if Consent is not voluntarily or freely given, or if the individual giving it is not capable of doing so.


 An appropriately trained individual, who may be a PLU employee, who reviews, gathers facts and evidence, and provides an investigative report regarding the alleged Prohibited Conduct that meets the criteria set forth in Title IX legislation.


An individual who reports to the University a concern regarding possible Prohibited Conduct. A Reporter does not need to be an Impacted Party or Complainant.


An individual or individuals chosen by the Complainant and Respondent to provide support during the investigation of a report of possible Prohibited Conduct that meets Title IX criteria. The chosen may not already be directly involved in the investigative process (Example – cannot be a witness, or Reporter). An advisor’s role is to provide guidance through the process, and conduct cross-examination of the opposing party, as applicable. Complainants and Respondents are not permitted to conduct cross-examination themselves. 

Responsible Employee/Mandated Reporter

An individual who is a PLU employee who has the authority to redress sexual violence, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual violence or other student misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty. A responsible employee must report any information about Prohibited Conduct to their supervisor or directly to the Title IX Coordinator on-campus. Responsible Employees on the PLU campus include all faculty/staff/administrators, including Campus Safety student employees and Campus Life Residential Assistant student employees.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination. This includes sexual harassment and sexual assault, and applies to all programs that receive federal financial aid.

Title IX Coordinator

The University official charged with ensuring PLU’s overall compliance with Title IX and related University Policy.