Sexual Misconduct & Sexual Assault

Statement of Purpose

Georgetown University is committed to promoting an environment which supports its educational mission and Jesuit heritage and which preserves the safety and dignity of its members. In particular, the university views, with the utmost seriousness, offenses against the individual such as stalking, sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual touching, sexual assault and any other form of non-consensual sexual activity.

A university is a place where learning to make wise choices is a constant concern for students, faculty and staff. At Georgetown University, choices are framed by a moral commitment to honesty, to the dignity of the individual and to responsibility to others.

Sexual Misconduct 

handled by Office of Student Conduct w/ possible referral to Hearing Board

Engaging in, or attempting to engage in, sexually explicit touching or indecent actions with or directed at another person that are unwanted and/or offensive.

For the purposes of the Sexual Misconduct, the following definition(s) shall apply:

  • Sexually explicit touching is the unwanted touching of another person in a sexual manner. Examples of sexually explicit touching include, but are not limited to, the touching either directly or through clothing, of another person’s genitalia, breasts, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with a clothed or unclothed body part or object.
  • Indecent actions include, but are not limited to voyeurism, exposure, sexually explicit communication (i.e., electronic and voice messages, photos, pictures, graphics, etc.)
Sexual Assault

handled by Office of Student Conduct w/ possible referral to Hearing Board

Engaging in, or attempting to engage in, unwanted sexually explicit touching or unwanted sexual penetration with another person through the use of coercion or where the person is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

For the purposes of the Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault violations, the following definitions shall apply:

Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexually explicit touching or sexual penetration. Consent must be informed, and freely given. The willingness to participate must be clearly indicated prior to any sexual activity, and again, prior to sexual penetration. If at any time during the sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to stop and clarify, verbally, the other’s willingness to continue.

  • A verbal “no,” even if it may sound indecisive or insincere, constitutes lack of consent.
  • When consent is requested verbally, absence of any explicit verbal response constitutes lack of consent.
  • It is expected that, after consent has been established, a person who changes his/her mind during the sexual activity will communicate through words or actions, his/her decision to no longer proceed.
  • Past consent to sexual activity does not imply future ongoing consent, and the fact that two persons are in an on-going relationship shall not preclude the possibility that sexual misconduct or sexual assault might occur within that relationship.
  • A student’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs shall not diminish a student’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Coercion is the use of force, or the threat of force, the use of a threat of immediate or future harm, or the use of physical or severe and/or pervasive emotional intimidation to cause or attempt to cause another person to engage in or submit to certain activities. Coercion also includes the administration of a drug, intoxicant or similar substance that impairs the faculties of a person.

Incapacity – a person is considered incapable of giving consent if he/she is asleep, unconscious and/or losing and regaining consciousness, or clearly mentally or physically incapacitated, for example, by alcohol and/or other drugs (signs of being incapacitated include, but are not limited to, difficulty walking, inability to speak in a coherent manner, vomiting or the presence of vomit, etc.).

Sexually explicit touching is the unwanted touching of another person in a sexual manner. Examples of sexually explicit touching include, but are not limited to, the touching, either directly or through clothing, of another person’s genitalia, breasts, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with a clothed or unclothed body part or object.

Sexual penetration is defined as any degree of insertion of a penis, hand, finger, tongue, or any object into a person’s anus or vulva, or any degree of insertion of genitalia into the mouth.

Communication

Clear communication is required by Georgetown University's Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault definitions, which require each participant to obtain and give consent before engaging in any sexual activity. Relying solely upon nonverbal communication can lead to miscommunication. Communication is a foundational process that affects all of our relationships and interactions. Basic elements of communication take on even greater significance when they pertain to intimate and possible sexual relationships. Healthy communication demonstrates a respect for the dignity of each person, allows mutual self-expression and requires careful listening. Individuals take responsibility to communicate effectively by articulating their thoughts and feelings and asking for clarification when they are uncertain or where they do not understand. The effectiveness of communication increases when individuals are aware of their own personal motivations and when individuals are sensitive to the meaning intended by another. Open, honest and direct communication requires courage and commitment to the process of communication and to each other.

Clarity in communication, both verbal and non-verbal is essential during a sexual encounter. Physical expression between two individuals marks the integration of thoughts, feelings and actions in a way that values, esteems and respects the dignity of oneself and another. This expression should reflect the depth of intimacy shared in the context of a relationship. Any sign of reservation or hesitation should be clarified verbally, before proceeding.
Alcohol and Other Drugs

Students are urged to exercise caution if they choose to use alcohol or drugs. The consumption of alcohol and/or the use of drugs often lowers inhibitions, causes some people to become more aggressive, and always impairs judgment. Sexual activity with someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs creates the potential for later confusion over questions of consent. Sexual activity with a person who is thus impaired may be considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Support and Resources

The University encourages students to make use of appropriate resources and will assist all persons involved in an allegation of sexual assault. The primary resource for those who believe a violation has occurred is the Sexual Assault and Health Issues Coordinator, located in Health Education, 2nd floor, Village C West. Other support structures include the Student Primary Care Clinic, Georgetown University Hospital, Residence Life, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, the Women's Center, Campus Ministry, Student Conduct, the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Each office is prepared to offer assistance to students both in an emergency and on an on-going basis. In addition to the previously mentioned resources on campus, referrals for off campus counseling and support services can be provided for both the complainant and the accused at the student's request. All offices respect and support the students’ right to privacy. More detailed information is available in the Women's Center, Health Education, and Student Affairs.

Prevention and Education

The University sponsors a variety of educational programs that seek to raise awareness of sexual assault issues and maximize the possibility of prevention. New Student Orientation includes a dramatic presentation that depicts a sexual assault scenario as a means of raising consciousness. Programs for first-year students continue in the residence halls, presented by the Resident Assistants, university staff, and Peer Educators. Publications concerning risk reduction and prevention, as well as the university’s response to sexual assault are issued by the Sexual Assault Working Group. Many members of the Georgetown community can provide information and referrals to anyone seeking such services. Additionally the Women's Center, Sexual Assault Services, and the Student Take Back the Night Group sponsor events which focus on violence against women, including the annual Take Back the Night rally each fall.

Reporting

When a student is sexually assaulted she/he has reporting options. One option is to file an anonymous incident report with the Sexual Assault and Health Issues Coordinator or other University Official. Anonymous report is a way for a victim to seek personal assistance and information without entering the judicial system, as the university will not initiate proceedings under its student disciplinary process as a result of an anonymous report. Another option is to file an incident report with the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety will investigate the incident and report its findings to the Office of Student Conduct. An additional option is for a victim to contact the Metropolitan Police Department and file a criminal report. Victims may file reports with both the Department of Public Safety and the Metropolitan Police Department as the two systems operate independently. Finally, students may also choose to pursue claims as sexual harassment claims, and file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Office of Affirmative Action Programs. One of the primary roles of the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator is to help a student clarify reporting options.

Enforcement

The University enforces this policy by means of the student discipline system and through penalties for violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Sexual offenses are viewed as a major violation of the Student Code of Conduct, subjecting the persons responsible to sanctions up to and including permanent separation from the University. Complainants will be informed promptly of all available resources and options, as well as the result of any disciplinary action taken.

A student charged with sexual assault may also be prosecuted by the District of Columbia under D.C. criminal statutes and disciplined by Georgetown under the University's Student Code of Conduct. A victim may also choose to file civil charges. The commencement and outcome of these actions are independent of one another.
Oversight

The Student Affairs Disciplinary Review Committee is a standing committee charged with the regular review of the discipline and conduct system. This committee, in consultation with the Georgetown University community, established a new definition for consent, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault in the Spring of 2004, which specifically defined consent. This committee will continue to modify the code when necessary and to review sections in response to community concerns.

The Sexual Assault Working Group is devoted to improving the community's awareness of sexual assault issues on campus and continuing to improve the university's response to students affected by these cases. Organized in January of 1995, it is composed of students, faculty, and staff interested and committed to the issue. Interested parties may contact the Office of Student Affairs for more information.