• Defining campus expectations regarding inappropriate sexual conduct allows all members of the university to be informed. The links on this page provide such definitions.

    Discrimination

    Discrimination is conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a university program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, or genetic information. The university reserves the right to uphold policies based upon biblical standards in all areas.

    Harassment

    Harassment means behavior consisting of physical or verbal conduct that substantially interferes with an individual’s employment, education, or access to university programs, activities, or opportunities. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, verbal or physical attacks, graphic or written statements, threats, or slurs. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the severity and persistence of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs, and the status of the individuals involved.

    Any type of harassment is prohibited by the university. To constitute prohibited harassment which can lead to discipline under this policy, however, the conduct must be such that it detrimentally affects the individual in question and would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances.

    Sexual Harassment

    Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, repeated requests for dates or personal information after being advised not to, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted, inappropriate, or unconsented to. Any type of sexual harassment is prohibited by the university.

    The following are some behaviors (physical and verbal) which may constitute sexual harassment:

    • Sexual jokes, innuendoes, or gestures
    • Unsolicited and unwelcome flirtations, advances, or propositions, however subtle
    • Graphic or degrading comments about a person’s appearance, dress, or body
    • Whistling, cat calls, or leering
    • Unwelcome terms of address such as sweetheart, baby, or dear
    • Regularly offering unwanted personal gifts such as flowers, candy, etc.
    • Display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures
    • Sexual or intrusive questions about an individual’s personal life
    • Explicit descriptions of the harasser’s own sexual experiences
    • Pressure, however subtle, for sexual activity
    • Any unnecessary, unwanted physical conduct such as touching, rubbing, and hugging
    • Physical or sexual assault

    Sexual harassment is demeaning and degrading. It affects an individual’s self-esteem and can have a negative impact on performance at work or in class. It can make an individual feel angry, powerless, or fearful.

    Harassment is not permitted regardless of the working relationship or supervisory status. Sexual harassment committed by an employee or third party can lead to discipline or corrective action when:

    • Submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a condition for employment, promotion, grades, academic status, or participation in the university’s activities
    • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic opportunities or other decisions affecting an individual
    • Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to substantially interfere with the harassed individual’s employment, education, or access to university programs, activities, and opportunities or creates a hostile or offensive environment for that individual or others

    All types of harassment toward any individuals are prohibited by the university, including same-sex harassment. This policy extends to individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual or who are transgender. The fact that someone did not intend to sexually harass an individual is generally not considered a defense to a complaint regarding sexual harassment. In most cases, it is the effect and characteristics of the behavior that determine if the behavior is sexual harassment or not.

    Students subjected to harassment should promptly contact the vice president for student development. An inquiry of any complaint will be initiated, and severe disciplinary measures, including suspension or expulsion, could result for the harasser.

    Consensual Relationships

    Romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty and students, staff and students, or supervisors and subordinate employees are strongly discouraged. Such relationships have the potential for adverse consequences, including the filing of charges of sexual harassment. Given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship where one party has the power to give grades, thesis advice, evaluations, recommendations, promotions, salary increases, or performance evaluations, the consensual nature of the relationship is inherently suspect.

    Even when both parties have consented to the relationship, there may be perceptions of conflicts of interest or unfair treatment of others. Such perceptions undermine the atmosphere of trust essential to the educational process or the employment relationship. Accordingly, the person in the position of supervision or academic responsibility must promptly report the relationship to her/his immediate supervisor. Once the consensual relationship is reported, the immediate supervisor is responsible for eliminating or mitigating the conflict of interest to the fullest feasible extent and ensuring that fair and objective processes are in place for decisions relative to grading, thesis advice, evaluations, recommendations, promotions, salary increases, or performance evaluations. The new supervisory or academic arrangement should be documented.

    Sexual Misconduct

    Sexual misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and refers to sexual offenses including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual coercion, and any other forms of nonconsensual sexual activity. Sexual misconduct can be committed by strangers, acquaintances, and family members, as well as casual and long-term dating partners.

    Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, attempted or unwanted sexual activity, such as sexual touching and fondling. This includes the touching of an unwilling person’s intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast, buttock, or clothing covering them) or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts.

    According to Tennessee law, sexual battery is unlawful sexual contact which may be accompanied by one of the following:

    • Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act
    • The sexual contact is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the person initiating the contact knows or has reason to know at the time of the contact that the victim did not consent
    • he person initiating the contact knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
    • The sexual contact is accomplished by fraud.

    Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, prostituting another person, nonconsensual visual or audio recording of sexual activity, nonconsensual distribution of photos, images, or information of an individual’s sexual activity or intimate body parts, nonconsensual voyeurism, coercing someone against her/his will to engage in sexual activity, or knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) without disclosing STD status.

    Consent must be informed, freely given, and mutual. If coercion—generally defined as intimidation, threats of force, violence, extortion, or kidnapping to be performed immediately or in the future—is used, there is no consent. If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that such person cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent. This includes impairment or incapacitation due to alcohol or drug consumption or being asleep or unconscious. Inducement of incapacitation of another with the intent to affect the ability of an individual to consent or refuse to consent to sexual contact almost always, if not always, negates consent. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. Whether a person has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.

    Stalking

    Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her/his safety or the safety of others or to suffer emotional distress. Stalking may include repeatedly following, harassing, threatening, or intimidating another by telephone, mail, electronic communication, social media, or any other action, device, or method.

    Dating Violence

    Dating violence means 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 will be based on the length and type of relationship and the frequency of interaction with the persons involved in the relationship. It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of dating violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.

    Domestic Violence

    Domestic Violence includes crimes of violence committed against a victim by:

    • a current or former spouse
    • a person with whom the victim shares a child
    • a person who is or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse
    • a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim
    • any other person against whom the victim is protected under Tennessee’s domestic and family violence laws

    It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of domestic violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.

    Retaliation

    Retaliation means any adverse action taken by a member of the university faculty, staff, or student body against any individual on the basis of any of the following:

    • A good faith report made by such individual
    • The individual’s participation in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry by the university or an appropriate authority
    • The individual’s participation in a court proceeding relating to suspected wrongful conduct at the university

    Retaliation shall include, but not be limited to, harassment, discrimination, threats of physical harm, job termination, punitive work schedule or research assignments, decrease in pay or responsibilities, or negative impact on academic progress.