Definitions

[NOTE: The following are general definitions pertaining to Title IX, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and NYS Education Law 129B related matters. For specific Code of Student Conduct definitions, policies, and procedures, please refer to the current Code of Student Conduct located at the following link: SUNY Cortland Code of Student Conduct. For specific employee definitions, policies, and procedures,  please refer to the Affirmative Action Program definitions found at the following link: Affirmative Action Program.]

Accused
a person accused of a violation who has not yet entered an Institution's judicial or conduct process.
Affirmative consent
is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.  Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Additionally:
  • Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.
  • Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.
  • Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent.  Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
  • Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion*, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.
  • When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.

* Note: Sexual Coercion is the act of using pressure (emotional and/or verbal), alcohol, or drugs in a persistent manner in order to wear down a victim making them feel obligated to engage in sexual activity with another person when they had already refused or would be doing so against their will.

Amnesty
The Policy for Alcohol and/or Drug Use Amnesty in Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Cases states that the health and safety of every student at the State University of New York and its State-operated and community colleges is of utmost importance. SUNY Cortland recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that violence, including but not limited to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. SUNY Cortland strongly encourages students to report incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to institution officials. A bystander acting in good faith or a reporting individual acting in good faith that discloses any incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to SUNY Cortland officials or law enforcement will not be subject to SUNY Cortland's code of conduct action for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
Bystander
a person who observes a crime, impending crime, conflict, potentially violent or violent behavior, or conduct that is in violation of rules or policies of an institution.
Clery Act
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act is a federal statute (20 U.S.C. §1092(f)) that requires colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose statistics about crime on or near their campuses. Compliance is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education.
Code of Conduct
the written policies adopted by an Institution governing student behavior, rights, and responsibilities while such student is matriculated in the Institution. At SUNY Cortland, the Code of Student Conduct can be found on the Student Conduct Office's website
Confidentiality
may be offered by an individual who is not required by law to report known incidents of sexual assault or other crimes to institution officials, in a manner consistent with State and Federal law, including but not limited to 20 U.S.C. 1092(f) and 20 U.S.C. 1681(a). Licensed mental health counselors, medical providers and pastoral counselors are examples of institution employees who may offer confidentiality. (See also "Privacy".)
Dating violence
any violent act or acts committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.  Violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. The existence of a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim is determined based on the reporting party's statement, the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.  
Domestic violence
a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by any of the following individuals:  current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; or a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; or a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; or a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.
Institution
any college or university charged by the regents or incorporated by special act of the legislature that maintains a campus in New York.
Privacy
may be offered by an individual when such individual is unable to offer confidentiality under the law but shall still not disclose information learned from a reporting individual or bystander to a crime or incident more than necessary to comply with the New York State and other laws, including informing appropriate Institution officials. (See also "confidentiality".)
Reporting Individual
encompasses the terms victim, survivor, complainant, claimant, witness with victim status, and any other term used to reference an individual who brings forth a report of a violation.
Respondent
means a person accused of a violation who has entered an Institution's judicial or conduct process.
Retaliation
adverse action against another person for reporting a violation or for participating in any way in the investigation or conduct process. Retaliation includes harassment and intimidation, including but not limited to violence, threats of violence, property destruction, adverse educational or employment consequences, and bullying.
SaVE Act
The SaVE Act is an acronym for the Campus Sexual Violence Act provision of the 2013 reauthorized Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). The SaVE Act provision, Section 304, requires colleges and universities to report domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking beyond the crime categories the Clery Act already mandates; adopt certain student conduct procedures, such as for notifying victims of their rights;  and adopt training protocols and policies to address and prevent campus sexual violence.
Sexual activity
has the same meaning as "sexual act" and "sexual contact" as provided in 18 U.S.C. 2246(2) and 18 U.S.C. 2246(3).
Sexual assault
a physical sexual act or acts committed against another person without consent. Sexual assault is an extreme form of sexual harassment. Sexual assault includes what is commonly known as “rape” (including what is commonly called “date rape” and “acquaintance rape”), fondling, statutory rape and incest. For statutory rape, the age of consent in New York State is 17 years old. Please refer to the SUNY Cortland Code of Student Conduct for a more detailed definition.
Sex discrimination
behaviors or actions that deny or limit a person's ability to benefit from, and/or fully participate in the educational programs or activities or employment opportunities because of a person's sex.  Sex discrimination includes all forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other sexual violence by employees, students, or third parties against employees, students, or third parties. Students, employees, and third parties are prohibited from harassing others whether or not the harassment occurs on the SUNY campus or whether it occurs during work hours. All acts of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, are prohibited by Title IX and College policy. Title IX protects students, employees, applicants for admission and employment, and other persons from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression or not conforming to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.
Sexual harassment
unwelcome, gender-based verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that is sexual in nature and sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program and/or activities, and is based on power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation. Sexual harassment in the educational setting is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature which denies or limits a student's ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, and opportunities in the College's programs. Conduct of a sexual nature (verbal, non-verbal, or physical), which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment is prohibited. [Note: for specific student and employee policy definitions, policies, and procedures, please refer to the hyperlinked documents at the top of this page, Code of Student Conduct and Affirmative Action Program websites, respectively.]
Sexual violence
refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (as defined by the SUNY affirmative consent policy). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be carried out by other students, college employees, or third parties. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX and College policy. (U.S. Office for Civil Rights guidance)
Stalking
intentionally engaging in a course of conduct, directed at a specific person, which is likely to cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or causes that person to suffer substantial emotional damage.   Examples include, but are not limited to, repeatedly following such person(s), repeatedly committing acts that alarm, cause fear, or seriously annoy such other person(s) and that serve no legitimate purpose, and repeatedly communicating by any means, including electronic means, with such person(s) in a manner likely to intimidate, annoy, or alarm him or her. [A course of conduct is two or more acts, including but not limited to acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly or through third parties by any action, method, device or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person or interferes with a persons' property. Substantial emotional distress is significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily require, medical or other professional treatment or counseling. A reasonable person is one under similar circumstances with similar identities to the victim.]
Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R., Part 106) Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence.
Title IX Coordinator
the Title IX Coordinator and/or his or her designee or designees.
VAWA
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law initially passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times, most recently in 2013 (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355). VAWA's initial focus has expanded from domestic violence and sexual assault to also include dating violence and stalking. The Act provides funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes mandatory restitution by those convicted, and allows civil remedy in certain cases. The Act created the Office on Violence Against Women within the U.S. Department of Justice. While the title of the law refers to women victims of violence, the actual text is gender-neutral, providing coverage for male victims of domestic violence as well.
Victim/survivor
a person who suffers personal, physical, or psychological injury. These college policies use reporting individual” as encompassing the terms victim, survivor, complainant, claimant, witness with victim status, and any other term used by an institution to reference an individual who brings for a report of a violation.

[NOTE: All SUNY Cortland students must abide by the provisions outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. Additional Code provisions and definitions may be found at cortland.edu/student-conduct. Employee policies may be found at the Human Resources/ Affirmative Action website at https://www2.cortland.edu/hr/.]