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.


An individual or individuals chosen by the Complainant, Respondent, or Reporter 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 (For example – cannot be a witness or Reporter). An advisor’s role is to provide guidance through the process and conduct cross-examination of the other party, as applicable. Parties are not permitted to conduct cross-examination themselves.


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.


Any individual submitting notice to the University that they have been the alleged survivor of Prohibited Conduct. See also Respondent

  • 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.

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; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence

A pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Washington State additionally defines domestic violence as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member.

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.

Impacted Party

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


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.

Informal Resolution

An option for addressing the formal complaint is facilitated by a trained, unbiased third-party facilitator. This option requires both impacted parties to agree to this process.


An appropriately trained individual, who may be a PLU employee, who reviews and investigates reports of Prohibited Conduct that meets the criteria set forth in Title IX legislation.

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.

Prohibited Content

Prohibited conduct is the collective term for discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), and abuse of authority. (Global HR Portal)

The two forms of prohibited conduct below cover both sex-based harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation, as well as harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes. Sample definitions for italicized terms in the two provisions are offered in the next section. In addition, in the sample definitions, terms that are further defined are also italicized.

  1. No person may engage in sex-based harassment that creates a hostile environment in or under any program or activity of this College.
  2. No person who is an employee or agent of this College (including a student employee) may condition a decision or benefit on a student’s submission to sex-based harassment This document was created by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, April 2014 2 (regardless of whether the student resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and avoids the threatened harm). (U.S. Department of Justice)

Relationship Violence

Dating Violence and/or Domestic Violence


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.


The individual accused of Prohibited Conduct. See also Complainant.

  • 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.”

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, 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.


Pacific Lutheran University prohibits retaliation against any person who reports a Sexual Misconduct violation, any witness who participates in an investigation related to allegations of Sexual Misconduct, or anyone who engages in any similarly protected activity. Retaliation is an adverse action taken against another for reporting a complaint or supporting another’s complaint. Anyone who believes they are experiencing retaliation is strongly encouraged to report that concern to SRR.

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.

Sexual Assault

Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without the consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. Falling under the definition of sexual assault is sexual activity such as forced sexual intercourse, sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape. It includes sexual acts against people who are unable to give consent either due to age or lack of capacity.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is gender-based verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone of educational access, benefits or opportunities. There are three types of Sexual Harassment:

  1. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: This exists when there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.
  2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; or
  3. “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct includes Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence or Domestic Violence (“Relationship Violence”), and Stalking.


A pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

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.