Title IX

  • Definitions

  • Affirmative Consent
    Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicate a willingness by all parties to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent must be informed, freely and actively given. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement. Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent. For example, a position of influence could include supervisory or disciplinary authority. Silence, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in themselves, be taken to imply consent. While nonverbal consent is possible (through active participation), it is best to obtain verbal consent. Similarly, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly.
    Domestic, Dating, and Relationship Violence

    Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control. This may include verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Domestic violence occurs in heterosexual as well as same-sex partnerships and crosses all ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines.

    In Massachusetts, “domestic violence” refers to abuse committed by a member of a family, a household, or an intimate partner against another member of the family, household, or against the intimate partner. “Abuse” is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts:

    • attempting to cause or causing physical harm
    • placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
    • causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress

    “Family or household members” are persons who:

    • are or were married to one another
    • are or were residing together in the same household
    • are or were related by blood or marriage
    • having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together
    • are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate, or municipal courts in consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

    Campus SaVE Act
    While the Campus SaVE Act differentiates between domestic violence and dating violence for reporting purposes, there is no specific statutory definition or crime of “dating violence” in Massachusetts other than what might exist within Massachusetts domestic violence law.

    Throughout the Title IX website, we use the term “relationship violence” to encourage the broad conceptual understanding of domestic violence, including dating violence.


    Retaliation is adverse employment or educational action against a person who:

    • files claims, complaints, or charges under the campus procedures, or under applicable local, state, or federal statute, who is suspected of having filed such claims, complaints, or charges
    • has assisted or participated in an investigation or resolution of such claims, complaints, or charges
    • has protested practices alleged to be violated of the non-discrimination policy of WSU, the Board of Higher Education, or a local, state, or federal regulation(s) or statute(s)

    Retaliation, even in the absence of provable discrimination in the original complaint or charge, constitutes as serious a violation of WSU policy as proved discrimination under the original claim, complaint, or charge.

    Sexual Harassment
    Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, and/or physical behavior of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; and/or (2) submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment.

    Sexual harassment incidents can involve a male harasser and a female victim, a female harasser and a male victim, or members of the same gender. Sexual harassment also can take place on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment explicitly includes rape, sexual assault, and all other forms of sexual violence.
    Sexual Assault and Rape

    Sexual assault and rape are crimes of violence and control, using sex acts as a weapon. Rape and sexual assault are not sexually motivated acts; rather, they stem from aggression, rage, sexism, and the determination to exercise power over someone else.

    Rape is a legal term that is defined in Massachusetts by 3 elements: penetration of any orifice by any object; force or threat of force; and against the will of the victim.

    Sexual assault is often more broadly defined as any sexual activity that is forced or coerced or unwanted. Sexual assault is charged as indecent assault and battery in Massachusetts. It is defined as a crime that occurs when the offender, without the victim's consent, intentionally has physical contact of a sexual nature with the victim. (Massachusetts General Law c. 265, § 13H)

    Stalking, as defined in Massachusetts, is a willful and malicious pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or the making of a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury. (Massachusetts General Law c. 266, § 43)

    Jennifer Quinn M.Ed., CHES, CTTS
    Director of Title IX
    Drug and Alcohol Education Prevention
    Student Center
    Office SC338

    On-Campus Emergencies

    Off-Campus Emergencies
    Worcester Police Department