Policy Definitions

Gettysburg College Definitions

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment can be a single, serious incident or a series of related, repeated incidents. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (verbal or physical conduct) when the conduct:

  • is reasonably perceived as creating an intimidating or hostile work, learning or living environment,
  • unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from any educational program and/or activities, and is
  • based on power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.

In addition to the above, specific types of sexual harassment constituting violations of this Policy include:

Sexual Assault: Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or oral sex, without Consent. Sexual intercourse means anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or inanimate object. Sexual assault includes rape, fondling, incest, and statutory rape.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact: Any intentional sexual touching or attempted sexual touching, without Consent.

Sexual Exploitation:  An act attempted or committed by a person for sexual gratification, financial gain, or other advancement through the abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, non-consensual observation of individuals who are undressed or engaging in sexual acts, non-consensual audio- or video recording or streaming of sexual activity, prostituting another person, and allowing others to observe a personal consensual sexual act without the knowledge or consent of all involved parties.

Coercion: The use or attempted use of pressure and/or oppressive behavior, including express or implied threats, intimidation, or physical force such that the application of pressure or oppression causes the recipient of the behavior to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Coercion includes administering or pressuring another to consume a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance with the intent to impair that person’s ability to consent prior to engaging in sexual activity.

Complicity: Assisting, facilitating, or encouraging the commission of a violation of the

Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Policy.

Harm to Others: Physical violence including (but not limited to) physical abuse, assault, threats of violence, striking, shoving or subjecting another person to unwanted physical contact.

Harassing Conduct: Intentionally or recklessly endangering, threatening, or causing emotional harm to any person. This may also include causing physical damage to their property.

Harassment: Harassment includes any written, verbal or physical acts (including electronically transmitted acts) that is reasonably perceived as creating an intimidating or hostile work, learning or living environment, particularly if questionable behavior is repeated and/or if it continues after the offending party is informed of the objectionable and/or inappropriate nature of the behavior. Harassment can be a single incident, or a series of repeated incidents.

Sexually Inappropriate Behavior: Conduct that is lewd or obscene including sexually suggestive gestures or communication. Public masturbation, disrobing or exposure of one’s self to another person without that person’s consent is one example. This may be an isolated occurrence.


Dating Violence: Dating violence can be a single event or a pattern of behavior that includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse.


Domestic Violence: Behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, LGBTQA; living together, separated or dating.


Intimate Partner Violence: Physical violence, sexual violence, and/or psychological abuse by a current or former intimate partner.


Stalking: “Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to—

  1. A) Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
  2. B) Suffer substantial emotional distress.”


Other Definitions

Adjudicator(s): The College administrative official who will be responsible for disposition and resolution of a Sexual Misconduct or Relationship Violence complaint. Typically, this will be a panel or the Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students or designee, based on availability.  The adjudicator has the discretion to consult with others as appropriate or refer to the appropriate designee.

Advisor: Someone who acts as an advisor to the Complainant or Respondent involved in an investigation or disciplinary proceeding under this Policy. Once a complaint has been filed, the Complainant and Respondent may each select an Advisor of their choice. The Advisor is permitted to be a part of any meetings their student may have. College employees who provide confidential support services (Advocates, Counseling Services staff, Health Services staff, and pastoral counselors) may not serve as Advisors. Additionally, the Title IX Director, Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Department of Public Safety, and the Dean of Students, for example have an actual or perceived conflict of interest preventing them from serving in this role. A student should select as an advisor a person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for any meetings because delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor.

The Advisor may not speak aloud during meetings involving the student and an investigator/adjudicator, but may confer quietly or by means of written notes with their advisee. The Student Conduct Administrator keeps a list of trained Advisors. Although the Parties are not required to select a trained Advisor, because knowledge of the disciplinary process is important to the Advisor’s role, it is highly recommended that they do so.

The Complainant and Responding Party are not obligated to accept the counsel of an Advisor.

Amnesty: The College will not pursue disciplinary action against any person for possession or consumption of alcohol or drugs when that possession or consumption is revealed in the course of a good faith report of sexual misconduct or relationship violence or other good faith statements made in connection with an investigation under this policy.

Appeals Board: A three-member board charged with hearing an appeal under this Policy. The Appeals Board is drawn from a pool of members of our community who will receive training regarding the purpose and implementation of this Policy as well as the disposition of Complaints in a manner that protects the safety and well-being of the Parties and promotes accountability. The Appeals Board typically is composed of one faculty member and two administrators. The Student Conduct Administrator has the discretion to make exceptions to this composition to ensure a timely appeal hearing. One member of the Appeals Board shall be appointed to serve as the Appeals Board Chair. All three members of the board are voting members.

Complaint: A written statement submitted by a third party, Responsible Reporter or the Complainant to the College for the purpose of initiating disciplinary proceedings under this Policy. This includes complaints submitted through the Community Concern Form.

Complainant: An individual who invokes the College’s processes to determine whether this Policy has been violated. The Complainant is normally the Victim. If a Victim chooses not to proceed with charges, the College may, at its discretion, serve as the Complainant.

Consent: Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity. Consent is demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage in, and continue to engage in, a specific sexual activity. 

Consent must be informed and voluntary. To give Consent, a person must be awake, of legal age, and have the capacity to reasonably understand the nature of their actions. Individuals who are physically or mentally incapacitated cannot give Consent. Some indicators that an individual is incapacitated due to intoxication may include, but are not limited to, vomiting, unresponsiveness, inability to communicate coherently, inability to dress/undress without assistance, inability to walk without assistance, slurred speech, loss of coordination, or inability to perform other physical or cognitive tasks without assistance.

Silence, without actions evidencing permission, does not demonstrate Consent. Where force or coercion is alleged, the absence of resistance does not demonstrate Consent. The responsibility of obtaining Consent rests with the person initiating sexual activity. The College encourages verbal consent to be present at all times at each step of sexual activity.


Consent to engage in sexual activity may be withdrawn by either person at any time. A previous or current dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute Consent. Once withdrawal of Consent has been expressed, the sexual activity must cease. Consent is automatically withdrawn by a person who is no longer capable of giving Consent (due to falling asleep or passing out into a state of unconsciousness, for example).

Investigator: The College administrative official who will be responsible for coordinating any investigations into an alleged violation of the Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Policy. Typically, this will be the Department of Public Safety or the Student Conduct Administrator; however, this may also be an external investigator. The Investigator will conduct a fact-finding inquiry, and prepare an Investigation Report for the Title IX Director for the purpose of resolving the complaint.

Party or Parties: A term referring individually or collectively to the Complainant and/or Respondent.

Respondent: Any individual or authorized student organization alleged to have violated this Policy and against whom a Complaint has been submitted.

Responsible Reporters: Responsible Reporters are persons who, as a result of their profession, may be aware of cases of abuse or violence. At Gettysburg College, all faculty, administrators, staff, and student staff (with the exception of, psychological counselors and pastoral counselors while performing that role as their primary employment with the College) are designated as responsible reporters with regard to cases of suspected sexual assault/violence, sexual misconduct, and relationship violence.  It is every person’s responsibility to keep our community safe and free from discrimination and violence. Suspected incidents need to be immediately reported to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). In the State of Pennsylvania, employees of institutions of higher learning who suspect incidents of child abuse (including incidents of suspected child sex abuse) must report such incidents to the Department of Public Welfare’s Child Line (800-932-0313), the police having jurisdiction, and to their supervisor. Pennsylvania recognizes matriculated students under the age of 18 as “children” for purposes of this law and, as such, the college is mandated to report a criminal complaint of abuse or sexual abuse involving anyone victim under the age of 18 immediately to ChildLine and the police having jurisdiction.

Retaliation: Acts or attempted acts to retaliate or seek retribution against anyone who has reported Sexual Misconduct or Relationship Violence or who has participated (or is expected to participate) in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this Policy. Prohibited retaliatory acts include, but are not limited to, intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination. Retaliation constitutes a violation of this Policy.

Student Conduct Administrator: College administrative official responsible for facilitating the adjudication of a Complaint filed under this policy including pre-hearing procedures. Normally, the Student Conduct Administrator will be the Title IX Director or Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Student Conduct Investigative Report: A report prepared by an Investigator and submitted to the Student Conduct Administrator for the purpose of resolving a Complaint.

Title IX: Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§1681 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 32 C.F.R. Part 106, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, or gender expression in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance. Gettysburg College is required to comply with Title IX.

Threshold of Information: Determination as to whether the allegations would provide sufficient information upon which a hearing panel could find a violation of this policy.

Trauma Informed Training:  This training is to help investigators and adjudicators understand, recognize, and respond to the effects of trauma. Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are deeply traumatic crimes that can cause severe damage to survivors’ emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. Survivors can be harmed or retraumatized by insensitive, uninformed, or inadequate community and criminal justice system responses. Gettysburg College provides awareness training to incident responders, counselors, support personnel, and adjudicators on the impact trauma can have on the lives of survivors. Through the It’s On Us PA Grant received during the 2016 – 2017 year, a trauma informed approached training is available to faculty and staff through Human Resources and the Title IX Coordination. This training helps inform the college’s response to victim reports in a way that works to eliminate or significantly reduce the impact of retraumatization.

Victim: A person who has experienced sexual or relationship violence. A Victim may also be identified as a Survivor or as a Complainant when this person invokes the formal College Hearing Process. 

Witness: Any individual who has seen, heard, or otherwise knows or has information about a violation or attempted violation of this Policy. Witnesses are expected to provide a statement during a hearing. Witnesses are protected from retaliation, which includes retaliation from the Complaint, Respondent, or from another party or parties.