Consent and Prohibited Conduct


The voluntary and knowing consent of all parties to any sexual activity is crucial. “Consent” is defined as clear, unambiguous, voluntary, positive agreement by word or action between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Additionally:

  • Consent to sexual activity can be communicated in a variety of ways, but one should presume that consent has not been given in the absence of clear, positive agreement.
  • Consent must be clear and unambiguous for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter.
  • Silence, the absence of verbal or physical resistance, or submission resulting from the use or threat of force does not constitute consent.
  • A prior relationship or prior consent to sexual activity does not indicate consent to future sexual activity.
  • Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another person.
  • Consent can also be withdrawn at any time through clear communication in words or actions.
  • A person cannot consent to sexual activity if that person is unable to understand the nature of the activity or give knowing consent because they are underage, asleep, unconscious, or mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the use of drugs or alcohol, because of a disability, or for any other reason.
  • A person’s manner of dress does not constitute consent.
  • Coercion, force, or threat of force invalidates consent.

When there is a lack of mutual consent about sexual activity or there is ambiguity about whether consent has been given, a student can be alleged to have, and may be found responsible for having committed sexual assault or another form of sexual harassmen.

For additional information regarding consent, please see the Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy.

Prohibited Conduct

The University’s Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy prohibits sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Additionally, the Policy prohibits retaliation. Brief descriptions of these prohibited behaviors are included below, and full definitions are available in Section 4 of the Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes the actual or attempted offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, and is defined as conduct on the basis of sex or that is sexual that is either quid pro quo harassment or 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

Sexual assault is any sexual act directed against a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent. This includes non-consensual sexual penetration and forcible fondling. This also includes non-forcible sex offenses such as incest and statutory rape.

Dating Violence

Dating violence means violence on the basis of sex 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 length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is violence on the basis of sex committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of Illinois, or 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 Illinois.


Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct on the basis of sex directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.


Retaliation exists when the institution or an individual intimidates, threatens, coerces, or discriminates against any individual to interfere with any right or privilege secured by the Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy, or because an individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing as outlined in the Policy.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding each of these types of prohibited conduct, please see the Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy.

Reviewed September 2021

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