The Sexual Misconduct Policy for Students (“policy”) prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual and gender-based stalking, interpersonal violence (including dating and domestic partner violence), sexual exploitation, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, and retaliation against a person for the good faith reporting of any of these forms of conduct or participation in any investigation or proceeding under this policy and associated procedures. This policy protects individuals of any sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation from sexual misconduct.

Reports of sexual misconduct will be processed using the policy in effect at the time an alleged situation occurred. The most current procedures will be used to investigate and adjudicate alleged behavior covered by the policy. Willamette University reserves the right to determine, based on the information available, what constitutes prohibited conduct under the following definitions.

Standard 9. Sexual Misconduct

Prohibited Conduct - Definitions

  1. Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment - Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal, physical, or other conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature when the condition outlined in i. or ii. below is present.
    1. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work, or participation in programs or activities or is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or
    2. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment. A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from the university’s employment, academic or social environment. In evaluating whether a hostile environment exists, the university will consider the totality of known circumstances.
      • The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person (objective perspective) with similar identities and circumstances in the position of a claimant (subjective perspective).
      • The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.
      • A single or isolated incident of sexual or gender-based harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe.
  2. Sexual or Gender-Based Stalking (including via electronic means or on-line activity) – A course of conduct (more than one behavior) targeted at an individual by an individual or group using various forms of contact to pursue, harass, or to make unwelcome contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion that would cause a reasonable person with similar identities and circumstances to feel harassed or afraid, or cause fear for or by a third party.
  3. Interpersonal Violence (including Dating and Domestic Partner Violence) – Harm or threat of harm by a current or former partner or spouse, or a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The harm or threat of harm can involve physical, sexual, psychological, economic, emotional, or other aspects.
  4. Sexual Exploitation – Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another person for one’s own or another’s advantage or benefit.
  5. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (or attempt) – Any intentional sexual contact that occurs without consent or capacity to give consent or by use of force. Sexual contact includes touching of a person’s intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks, or clothing covering any of those areas), or using force to cause a person to touch their own or another person’s intimate parts.
  6. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempt) – Penetration of the vagina or anus with any object or body part, or oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact) without consent or capacity to give consent or by use of force.
  7. Retaliation – Any adverse action taken against a person making a complaint of sexual misconduct, cooperating in an investigation or hearing of alleged sexual misconduct, or against any individual perceived to be involved in reporting, in an investigation, or hearing of sexual misconduct. Retaliation includes but is not limited to, confirmed or implied behaviors or actions (including electronic or on-line activity) which intimidate, threaten, or harass, or result in other adverse actions threatened or taken. An individual reporting sexual misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not substantiated based on the available evidence. Retaliation does not include good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of prohibited conduct.

Consent Defined

The university defines consent as an informed agreement between participants to willingly and actively participate in sexual activity established through continuous communication using mutually understandable words or actions that create clear permission.

About Consent

  • It is the responsibility of all parties to obtain consent prior to sexual activity and to ensure consent is conveyed throughout the entirety of the experience.
  • The use of force or coercion, whether actual or inferred, immediate or future, physical harm, a threat, or intimidation does not constitute consent.
  • Silence, or a lack of physical or other resistance on the part of a participant, does not constitute consent.
  • If any participant communicates a desire to end a sexual activity, it should be stopped immediately.
  • The use of alcohol or other drugs by any participant does not change the need to obtain consent for sexual activity.
  • Incapacitation can be a result of a mental or physical condition, a voluntary or involuntary consumption of alcohol, or other drugs.
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is under the age of 18 years of age unless where allowed by law (Ore. Rev. Stat. § 163.345 (2018).
  • Consent cannot be given by someone who is known to be or should have known to be mentally or physically incapacitated.
  • Consent is required regardless of current or previous dating relationship or history of sexual contact between participants.

Force Defined

Force includes the use of (a) physical violence, (b) threats, (c) intimidation, or (d) coercion.

a) Physical violence means that a person is exerting control over another person through the use of physical force. Examples of physical violence include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, restraining, choking/strangulation, and brandishing or using any weapon.
b) Threats are words or actions that would compel a reasonable person in similar circumstances to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Examples include threats to harm a person physically, to reveal private information to harm a person’s reputation, or to cause a person academic or economic harm.
c) Intimidation is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another person. A person’s size, alone, does not constitute intimidation; however, a person’s size may be used in a way that constitutes intimidation (e.g., blocking access to an exit).
d) Coercion is the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice, or attract another person to engage in sexual behavior. When a person makes clear a decision not to participate in a particular form of sexual contact or sexual intercourse, a decision to stop, or a decision not to go beyond a certain sexual interaction, continued pressure can be coercive. In evaluating whether coercion was used, the university will consider:

  • The frequency of the application of the pressure;
  • The intensity of the pressure;
  • The degree of isolation of the person being pressured; and
  • The duration of the pressure.

Incapacitation Defined

Incapacitation is a state where one cannot make reasoned decisions due to lack of ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why, or how of the sexual interaction. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. A person who is physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary), or who is unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless, is incapable of giving consent. If it is unclear whether or not a person is incapacitated, assume the person is unable to give consent.

Assessment of Incapacitation

In evaluating consent in cases of alleged incapacitation, the university asks two questions; if the answer to either of these questions is “YES,” consent was absent and the conduct is likely a violation of this policy:

  • Did the person initiating sexual activity know that the other party was incapacitated? and if not,
  • Should a sober, reasonable person in the same situation have known that the other party was incapacitated?


To encourage reporting, individuals who report sexual misconduct as claimants or witnesses/third parties, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the university for their personal consumption of alcohol or other drugs at or near the time of reported incidents, provided any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. Educational resources regarding alcohol or other drugs will be offered as appropriate.


Willamette University recognizes that harassing conduct related to an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation may occur in conjunction with conduct related to an individual’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability, or other protected status. Targeting individuals on the basis of these characteristics, in isolation or in conjunction with sexual misconduct, is a violation of the university’s Standards of Conduct. In these situations, the university will usually address, at the investigation and hearing stages, the harassing conduct related to the targeted individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, together with the conduct related to the targeted individual’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability, or other protected status.

Standard 10. Harassment

Behavior that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational or employment opportunities, programs or activities; includes harassment on the basis of sex, race, cultural background, religion, political creed, marital status, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, or disability, as well as the existence of a hostile environment that is created, encouraged, accepted, tolerated or left uncorrected.

Statement Regarding Accessibility

Willamette University is committed to the full access and inclusion of all students in its processes and services. Accessible Education Services will assist with the coordination of reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with documented disabilities, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). If you have questions or need assistance, please contact

  • Status: Under Review
  • Scope: All students
  • Effective Date: August 2016
  • Last Revision Date: August 2016
  • Last Review Date: August 2016
  • Next Anticipated Review: February 2017
  • Responsible University Administrator(s): Director of Rights and Responsibilities
  • Responsible University Office: Student Support and Standards
  • Primary Policy Contact: Questions and Suggestions? Contact the Office of Student Affairs
  • Phone: 503-370-6813, Email:
  • Approved By: Willamette University Title IX Team and Vice President for Student Affairs

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