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Policies and Grievance Procedures

Key Policy Terms

Sexual Harassment

All forms of sexual harassment are prohibited under the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy violence includes, but is not limited to:

Sexual Harassment

The Universities prohibit, under this Policy, conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following conditions:

  1. An employee of the University conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; or,
  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 University’s education program or activity.

Sexual Assault

An offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Attempts to commit any of these acts are also prohibited.

Sexual Assault – Rape

The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person without the consent of the victim (or attempts to commit the same). This includes any gender of victim or Respondent.

Sexual Assault – Fondling

Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of age and/or because of temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

Statutory Rape

Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent, which is 16 years old in Massachusetts.


Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

Dating and Domestic Violence

Domestic and dating violence are acts of abusive or coercive behavior (physical, sexual, financial, verbal and/or emotional) used by a perpetrator to gain or exercise control over another, including any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Domestic Violence

Includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Dating Violence

Any act of violence or threatened violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of the relationship, (ii) The type of relationship, and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual, emotional or physical abuse, or the threat of such abuse.


Engaging in a course of conduct directed (directly, indirectly, through a third party or other means) at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.


Neither the Universities nor any other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under Title IX.

Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, including charges against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve sexual harassment, but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, constitutes retaliation.

Understanding Consent

What is consent?

An understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicate a willingness by all parties to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

Consent must be informed, freely and actively given. While nonverbal consent is possible (through active participation), it is best to obtain verbal consent.

What is not consent:

  • Silence
  • Consent to previous sexual experiences
  • Incapacitation
  • Force
  • Coercion
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to another form of sexual activity. Obtain clear and affirmative consent at each stage of sexual involvement. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly


An individual who is incapacitated may not give consent.

Due to Alcohol or Drugs

An individual who is incapacitated because of alcohol or drugs either voluntarily or involuntarily consumed may not give consent. Alcohol or drug related incapacitation is more severe than impairment, being under the influence, or intoxication.

Generally, the University may elect not to pursue disciplinary action against a student who, in good faith, reports sexual violence. However, the use of alcohol and/or drugs by the respondent does not excuse a violation of the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy.

Other Types of Incapacitation

Persons under age 16; persons who are intellectually incapable of understanding the implications and consequences of the act or actions in question; and persons who are physically helpless, among others. A physically helpless person is one who is asleep, blacked out, involuntarily physically restrained, unconscious or, for any other reason, unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in any act.


Unreasonable pressure or emotional manipulation to persuade another to engage in sexual activity. When someone makes it clear that they do not want to engage in sexual behavior, or they do not want to go beyond a certain point of sexual activity, continued pressure beyond that point can be considered coercive. Being coerced into sexual activity is not consent to that activity.


The use of physical strength or action (no matter how slight), violence, threats of violence or intimidation (implied threats of violence) as a means to engage in sexual activity. A person who is the object of actual or threatened force is not required to physically, verbally or otherwise resist the aggressor, and lack of such resistance cannot be relied upon as the sole indicator of consent.

Important Information: For questions regarding any of these policy terms, please call the Office of Equal Opportunity at (508) 531-2744 or email For complete policy definitions and further examples, please see the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy. For criminal definitions, please select “The Laws” tab under “More.”