Washington Center

Frequent Terms and Questions

Please refer to the University of California Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment found here for official language, definitions, policies, and procedures.

Please refer to the UC Office of the President (UCOP) Sexual Violence Prevention & Response FAQ topics here or listed below:

FAQ: Understanding Sexual Violence And Sexual Assault

FAQ: Getting Help

FAQ: Filing A Report

FAQ: Care Advocates

FAQ: Education And Training

FAQ: If You've Been Accused

FAQ: Investigation And Adjudication Model For Cases Involving Students

FAQ: Investigation And Adjudication Model For Cases Involving Faculty And Staff

FAQ: Responsible Employees

Frequently Used Terms

University of California Policy On Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence - Policy that applies to all UC employees and students at its campuses and University programs and activities and furthers the University’s commitment to compliance with the law and to the higher standards of ethical conduct. You can find the policy in full here.

A. Consent - Consent is affirmative, conscious, voluntary, and revocable. Consent to sexual activity requires of both persons an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person to ensure they have the affirmative consent of the other to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest, lack of resistance, or silence, do not alone constitute consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing and can be revoked at any time during sexual activity. The existence of a dating relationship or past sexual relations between the persons involved should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent (nor will subsequent sexual relations or dating relationship alone suffice as evidence of consent to prior conduct).

The Respondent’s belief that the Complainant consented shall not provide a valid excuse where: 

  1. The Respondent’s belief arose from the Respondent’s own intoxication or recklessness;
  2. The Respondent did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the Respondent at the time, to ascertain whether the Complainant affirmatively consented; or
  3. The Respondent knew or a reasonable person should have known that the Complainant was unable to consent because the Complainant was incapacitated, in that the Complainant was: a. asleep or unconscious; b. due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, unable to understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity; or c. unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

B. Prohibited Conduct

1. Sexual Violence:

a. Sexual Assault - Penetration: Without the consent of the Complainant, penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina, anus, or mouth by a penis; or the vagina or anus by any body part or object.

b. Sexual Assault - Contact: Without the consent of the Complainant, touching an intimate body part (genitals, anus, groin, breast, or buttocks) (i) unclothed or (ii) clothed. 

Note: As this definition encompasses a broad spectrum of conduct, not all of which constitutes sexual violence. The Title IX Officer will determine whether the allegation should be treated as sexual violence or sexual harassment. (See FAQ #4 for more information)

Note: Sexual Assault—Penetration and Sexual Assault—Contact are aggravated when it includes the following:

  • Overcoming the will of Complainant by:
    • force (the use of physical force or inducing reasonable fear of immediate or future bodily injury);
    • violence (the use of physical force to cause harm or injury);
    • menace (a threat, statement, or act showing intent to injure);
    • duress (a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution that is enough to cause a reasonable person of ordinary sensitivity, taking into account all circumstances including age and relationship, to do or submit to something that they would not otherwise do).
    • deliberately causing a person to be incapacitated (through drugs or alcohol);

  • Intentionally taking advantage of the other person’s incapacitation (including voluntary intoxication).

  • Recording, photographing, transmitting, or distributing intimate or sexual images without the prior knowledge and consent of the parties involved.

c. Relationship Violence:

i. Dating Violence: Conduct by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the Complainant that intentionally, or recklessly, causes bodily injury to the Complainant or places the Complainant in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. The nature of the relationship between the Complainant and Respondent is determined by the length, type, and frequency of interaction between them.

ii. Domestic Violence: Conduct by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant; or a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, that intentionally, or recklessly, causes bodily injury to the Complainant or another, or places the Complainant or another in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury.

d. Stalking: Repeated conduct directed at a Complainant (e.g., following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, communicating or interfering with property), of a sexual or romantic nature or motivation, that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking of a non-sexual nature is addressed by other University policies including but not limited to the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline Section 102.10.

2. Sexual Harassment: 

a. Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

i. Quid Pro Quo: a person’s submission to such conduct is implicitly or explicitly made the basis for employment decisions, academic evaluation, grades or advancement, or other decisions affecting participation in a University program; or

ii. Hostile Environment: such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it unreasonably denies, adversely limits, or interferes with a person’s participation in or benefit from the education, employment or other programs and services of the University and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find to be intimidating or offensive.

b. Consideration is given to the totality of the circumstances in which the conduct occurred. Sexual harassment may include incidents:

i. between any members of the University community, including faculty and other academic appointees, staff, student employees, students, coaches, residents, interns, and non-student or non-employee participants in University programs (e.g., vendors, contractors, visitors, and patients);

ii. in hierarchical relationships and between peers; and

iii. between individuals of any gender or gender identity.

c. This Policy shall be implemented in a manner that recognizes the importance of the rights to freedom of speech and expression and shall not be interpreted to prohibit expressive conduct that is protected by the free speech and academic freedom principles discussed in Section III.F of the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment.

3. Other Prohibited Behavior:

a. Invasions of Sexual Privacy

i. Without a person’s consent, watching or enabling others to watch that person’s nudity or sexual acts in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy;

ii. Without a person’s consent, making photographs (including videos) or audio recordings, or posting, transmitting or distributing such recorded material depicting that person’s nudity or sexual acts in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; or

iii. Using depictions of nudity or sexual activity to extort something of value from a person.

b. Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18.

c. Exposing one’s genitals in a public place for the purpose of sexual gratification.

d. Failing to comply with the terms of a no-contact order, a suspension of any length, or any order of exclusion issued under this Policy.

C. Retaliation

Retaliation includes threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse employment or educational actions against a person based on their report of Prohibited Conduct or participation in the investigation, report, remedial, or disciplinary processes provided for in this Policy.

D. Other Definitions

1. Confidential Resources:

The following employees who receive reports in their confidential capacity include:

a. CARE Advocates

b. Ombuds

c. Licensed counselors in student counseling centers and in employee assistance programs,

d. Any persons with a professional license requiring confidentiality (including health center employees but excluding campus legal counsel), or someone who is supervised by such a person.

Designation as a “Confidential Resource” for purposes of this Policy only exempts a person from reporting to the Title IX office but not from other mandatory reporting obligations under UC CANRA (Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act) Policy, the Clery Act as a Campus Security Authority (CSA), and other policies or laws that require reporting to campus or local law enforcement, or Child Protective Services.

2. Complainant: Any person who files a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment or other prohibited behavior or retaliation or any person who has been the alleged subject of such Prohibited Conduct or retaliation.

3. Location: “Location” is any University of California campus, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Medical Centers, the Office of the President, and Agriculture and Natural Resources.

4. Preponderance of Evidence: A standard of proof that requires that a fact be found when its occurrence, based on evidence, is more likely than not.

5. Respondent: A person alleged to have engaged in Prohibited Conduct and about whom a report of sexual violence, sexual harassment, other prohibited behavior, or retaliation is made.

6. Responsible Employee: Any University employee who is not a Confidential Resource and who receives, in the course of employment, information that a student (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) has suffered sexual violence, sexual harassment or other prohibited behavior shall promptly notify the Title IX Officer or designee. This includes Resident Assistants, Graduate Teaching Assistants, and all other student employees, when disclosures are made to any of them in their capacities as employees.

In addition, the following who, in the course of employment, receive a report of Prohibited Conduct from any other person affiliated with the University shall notify the Title IX Officer or designee:

  • Campus Police
  • Human Resource Administrators, Academic Personnel, and Title IX Professionals
  • Managers and Supervisors including Deans, Department Chairs, and Directors of Organized Research Units (ORU)
  • Faculty members

For further definitions, please refer to the UCOP Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Glossary here.