Virginia Tech’s Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy
Virginia Tech does not tolerate discrimination or harassment that is based upon a person’s gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Such behavior is inconsistent with the university’s commitments to excellence and to a community in which mutual respect is a core value as articulated in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.
Consent Is Key
Consent is a clear, mutual understanding between two people that both of them are willing to engage in intimate behavior. Virginia Tech defines consent as clear, knowing, and voluntary.
- Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.
- Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in sexual activity.
- Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity. Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.
- Consent may be withdrawn at any time by either person.
What is Lack of Consent?
Lack of consent occurs when the acts are committed either by force or intimidation or by taking advantage of the person’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness. Someone who is incapacitated in any way cannot give consent.
- Incapacitation includes but is not limited to being asleep, drugged, intoxicated, or unconscious.
- Consent cannot be compelled or coerced. Coercion is any attempt to cause another person to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation.
- Consent will not be considered given by someone who is harassed, threatened, or forced into sexual activity.
- Consent cannot be given by a minor as defined by law.
What is Positive Consent?
- Consent is defined as positive willingness in act or attitude. The consenting individual must be of legal age and fully informed about the nature of the act.
- Sexual activity requires positive consent, which means voluntary, positive agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity.
- Positive 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.
- Verbal consent is not an absolute requirement for consensual sexual activity, but verbal communication prior to engaging in sex helps to clarify consent.
- Communicating verbally before engaging in sexual activity is imperative. However potentially awkward it may seem, talking about your own and your partner’s sexual desires, needs, and limitations provides a basis for a positive experience.
- Consent must be clear and unambiguous for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter. The absence of “no” should not be understood to mean there is consent.
- A prior relationship does not indicate consent to future activity.
Creating a Safer Campus by Better Uderstanding of Sexual Assault
The National Institute of Justice finds that one in five college women (and one in 16 men) will experience some form of non-consensual sexual activity by graduation. The widespread impact of sexual violence on students presents an urgent, pressing challenge for our nation’s campuses.
To combat this challenge, Virginia Tech has joined with many top national schools in adopting “Haven - Understanding Sexual Assault” to address this critical issue. No oversimplified, lecture-style diatribe, Haven is a thoughtful, educational program that encourages adults to think about their choices.
This program is a requirement for every new incoming first-year student. Please note all survey responses are strictly confidential. Virginia Tech will only receive information about the student body as a whole and will never see any individual student’s answers.