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.

Complainant: The individual complaining of Sexual Misconduct. See also Respondent.

Respondent: The individual accused of Sexual Misconduct. See also Complainant. 

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: 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 insure 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.

Incapacity: 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 student is a violation of PLU policy. 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 non-verbally, valid Consent.

Coercion: 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.

Investigator: An appropriately trained individual, who may be a PLU employee, who reviews and investigates reports of Prohibited Conduct under this policy.

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

Support Person: An individual or individuals chosen by the Complainant, Respondent, Reporter, or witness to provide support during the investigation of a report of possible Prohibited Conduct under this policy. The Support Person chosen may not already be directly involved in the investigative process (Example – cannot be a witness, or Reporter), and may not speak on behalf of the person they are supporting, but instead may be present only to provide assistance or advice to the individual they are supporting. A Support Person must be part of the PLU community.

Legal Counsel: Either or both a Complainant or Respondent may work with legal counsel at their own expense during the process. Like Support Persons, Lawyers may not speak on behalf of the person they are supporting, but instead may be present only to provide assistance or advice to the individual they are representing. A lawyer need not be a member of the PLU community.

Responsible Employee/Mandatory 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, a Title IX complaint or incident to the Title IX Coordinator on-campus. Responsible Employees on the PLU campus include all faculty/staff/administrators, including Campus Safety student employees and Residential Life 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.