The  definitions and examples on this page provide a common language for the Dartmouth community. These terms, such as "consent," "sexual assault," and "retaliation," are found in the College's policies and procedures.

Effective 14 August, 2020

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, electronic, or otherwise (sexual harassment); or, any act of intimidation or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise based on sex or gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature (gender-based harassment); when one or more of the following conditions are present:

1.            Submission to or rejection of such conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of, or is used as the basis for decisions affecting, an individual’s employment or advancement in employment, evaluation of academic work or advancement in an academic program, or basis for participation in any aspect of a Dartmouth program or activity (quid pro quo); or

2.            The conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with, limiting or depriving an individual from participating in or benefiting from Dartmouth’s learning, working, or living programs under both an objective and subjective standard (hostile environment).

Sex or Gender-based Discrimination

Sex/gender-based discrimination is subjecting an individual to adverse action—including unfavorable or unfair treatment—based on or because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), or the individual's perceived sex, sexual orientation, or gender (including gender identity and gender expression). Sex/gender-based discrimination can occur in either an employment or an educational context.

Examples of conduct that can constitute sex/gender-based discrimination include:

  • Refusing professional or learning opportunities to an individual because of their sex/gender;
  • Singling out or targeting an individual for different or less favorable treatment (e.g., more severe discipline, lower salary increase) because of their sex/gender;
  • Failing or refusing to hire or admit an individual because of their sex/gender; and
  • Terminating an individual from employment or an educational program based on their sex/gender.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent (see above for definition of consent).  Sexual contact includes:

1.            sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), including penetration with a body part (e.g., penis, finger, hand, or tongue) or an object, or requiring another to penetrate themselves with a body part or an object, however slight; or

2.            sexual touching, including, but not limited to, intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, or other intimate part of an individual’s body.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual Exploitation is intentionally taking sexual advantage of another person without consent. It may involve use of one’s own or another individual’s nudity or sexuality.

Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:

1.            voyeurism (such as watching or taking pictures, videos, or audio recordings of another person in a state of undress without their consent or of another person engaging in a sexual act without the consent of all parties);

2.            disseminating, streaming, or posting images, pictures or video of another in a state of undress or of a sexual nature without the person’s consent;

3.            knowingly exposing one’s genitals to another person without consent;

4.            prostituting another individual; or

5.            knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without the other individual’s knowledge and consent.

Dating or Domestic Violence

Dating or Domestic Violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a Complainant who is or has been involved in a sexual, dating, domestic or other intimate relationship with the Respondent, or against a person with whom the Respondent has sought to have such a relationship.

Dating or Domestic Violence may include, but is not limited to, threatening or causing physical harm or engaging in other conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person. It may also include forms of Prohibited Conduct under this policy, including Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, and Stalking. Dating or Domestic Violence includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual, emotional, economic and/or psychological actions or threats of action, including threatening to reveal personal or confidential information (including, but not limited, to information regarding one's gender identity and/or sexual orientation), that are intimidating, frightening, terrorizing or threatening. It also includes threats of violence or harm to one's family member(s) or friends.


Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct toward another person under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or experience substantial emotional distress.

Course of conduct means two or more instances including but not limited to unwelcome acts in which an individual 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. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish.

Stalking includes the concept of cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used.

Provision of Alcohol and/or Other Drugs for Purposes of Prohibited Conduct

The provision of alcohol and/or other drugs to an individual for the purpose of committing or facilitating Prohibited Conduct under this policy is also in and of itself a form of Prohibited Conduct. Such behavior may include provision of a drink or food which contains alcohol and/or other drugs without the knowledge of the individual to whom it is being provided or other actions taken with the intention of impairing the senses, judgment, and/or physical and mental ability of another person in order to engage in other forms of Prohibited Conduct. An individual does not have to engage in sexual activity with another person to be found responsible for the prohibited provision of alcohol and/or other drugs.


Retaliation means any adverse action or threat taken or made against an individual for making a report of Prohibited Conduct or participating in any investigation or proceeding related to this policy. Retaliation includes threatening, intimidating, harassing, or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under this policy, such as seeking services, receiving protective measures and accommodations, and/or reporting Prohibited Conduct. Retaliation includes such conduct through associates or agents of a Complainant, Respondent, Reporting Party, or participant in any investigation or proceeding related to this policy.  


Consent:  Consent is an affirmative and willing agreement to engage in specific forms of sexual contact with another person. Consent requires an outward demonstration, through mutually understandable words or actions, indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual contact. Consent cannot be obtained through:

1.         the use of coercion or force; or

2.         by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.

Silence, passivity, or the absence of resistance does not imply consent. It is important not to make assumptions; if confusion or ambiguity arises during a sexual interaction, it is essential that each participant stop and clarify the other's willingness to continue.

Consent can be withdrawn at any time. When consent is withdrawn and outwardly communicated as such, sexual activity must cease. Prior consent does not imply current or future consent; even in the context of an ongoing relationship, consent must be sought and freely given for each instance of sexual contact.

An essential element of consent is that it be freely given. Freely given consent might not be present, or may not even be possible, in relationships of a sexual or intimate nature between individuals where one individual has power, supervision or authority over another. More information, policy and guidance regarding such relationships can be found in VIII of the Dartmouth Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy.

In evaluating whether consent was given, consideration will be given to the totality of the facts and circumstances, including but not limited to the extent to which a Complainant affirmatively uses words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in sexual contact, free from intimidation, fear, or coercion; whether a reasonable person in the Respondent's position would have understood such person's words and acts as an expression of consent; and whether there are any circumstances, known or reasonably apparent to the Respondent, demonstrating incapacitation or lack of consent.

Coercion or Force

Coercion is verbal and/or physical conduct, including manipulation, intimidation, unwanted contact, and express or implied threats of physical, emotional, or other harm, that would reasonably place an individual in fear of immediate or future harm and that is employed to compel someone to engage in sexual contact.

Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to overcome an individual's freedom of will, to choose whether or not to participate in sexual contact.


An individual who is incapacitated lacks the ability to make informed judgments and cannot consent to sexual contact. Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that sexual activity is occurring. Mentally helpless means a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling one's own conduct. Physically helpless means a person is physically unable to verbally or otherwise communicate consent or unwillingness to an act.

Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond impairment or intoxication. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs affects a person's decision-making ability; awareness of consequences; ability to make informed, rational judgments; capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of the act; or level of consciousness. The assessment is based on objectively and reasonably apparent indications of incapacitation when viewed from the perspective of a sober, reasonable person.


The individual reported to have experienced Prohibited Conduct will be referred to as the "Complainant."


The individual who is reported to have violated the policy will be referred to as the “Respondent.”

Reporting Party

There may be instances where another person, who has not experienced but is aware of the occurrence of Prohibited Conduct, may report conduct, and that person is referred to as the "Reporting Party." In those limited circumstances, Dartmouth will determine which of the protections provided to the Complainant, if any, are also applicable to the Reporting Party.