Definitions of consent and retaliation

Consent is informed, freely given, and a mutually understood agreement to sexual activity. Consent requires an affirmative act or statement by each person; a person’s lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the use or threat of force does not constitute consent. If coercion, intimidation, threats and/or physical force are used, there is no consent. If a person is under age, mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the person cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent; this includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption or being asleep or unconscious. A person’s manner of dress does not constitute consent. A participants consent to past sexual activity does not constitute consent to future sexual activity, their consent to sexual activity with one person does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity with another and consent may be withdrawn at any time. Whether one has taken advantage of a position of influence over another may be a factor in determining consent.

Retaliation
It is a violation of the Governors State University Policy 52 to retaliate against any person making a complaint of prohibited conduct or against any person participating in the investigation of any such allegation. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Title IX Coordinator. Retaliation is grounds for University disciplinary action.

Complainants and their supporters have the unfettered right to be free from retaliation. Retaliation is defined as any adverse reaction taken against a person for alleging any form of prohibited conduct, supporting a party bringing a grievance, or for assisting in providing information relevant to a claim of prohibited conduct and will be investigated immediately and adjudicated separately.  Retaliation includes, but is not limited to intimidation, threats or menacing behavior, coercion, or discriminatory actions. Retaliation is a serious violation and may result in immediate removal from the University.

Options for reporting to law enforcement and/or the institution either with or without confidentiality

To report a Title IX concern of Prohibited Conduct, please contact GSU’s Title IX Officer: Sandra Alvarado at Title IX Coordinator or call the Title IX phone line at (708) 534-4571. Complaints may also be submitted electronically by visiting http://www.govst.edu/TitleIX/. Electronic submissions may also be done anonymously, may be done by third parties or bystanders.

There is no time limit for reporting Prohibited conduct to the University under this policy; however, a delay in reporting may hinder the University’s ability to respond, as evidence may erode, memories of incident may face and Respondents may no longer be a member of the University community.

Any GSU student who believes he/she has been subjected to Prohibited Conduct is encouraged to report such concern and may request that an investigation be conducted. Except for University-recognized confidential resources, the following University staff members with knowledge of unreported prohibited conduct (or potentially prohibited conduct) are considered

Responsible Employees and must report such allegation(s) to the Title IX Coordinator:

  • Faculty and teaching staff
  • Unit/department heads
  • Staff within the offices of Residence Housing, Student Affairs, Enrollment, Deans, and Associate Provosts, and other administrators.
  • Additionally, any person with knowledge of prohibited conduct is obligated to report the concern to the Title IX Coordinator.

The University will not pursue disciplinary action against students for disclosure of illegal personal consumption of drugs or alcohol where such disclosures are made in good faith regarding a report or investigation of Prohibited Conduct.
In addition, students who wish to have their case handled criminally should contact the Governors State University Department of Public Safety 708-534-4900 or the University Park Police Department 708-534-0913.

Information about confidential reporting and the services available to student survivors

The University will make reasonable and appropriate efforts to preserve the Complainant’s and/or Respondent’s privacy and to protect the confidentiality of information. Should an Complainant request confidentiality, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the Complainant that the University’s ability to respond may therefore be limited – but that where feasible, the University will take reasonable steps to prevent Prohibited Conduct and limit its effects.

The Title IX Coordinator will further inform the Complainant that it is not possible to provide confidentiality in all cases and that the University’s decision to share information with others is subject to the balancing test described below in Section VI. In summary, although the University’s goal is to limit the number of individuals who may learn about an allegation of Prohibited Conduct or an investigation, the University cannot guarantee confidentiality in all matters.

Strategies for bystander intervention/risk reduction

Risk reduction tips can often take a victim-blaming tone, even unintentionally. With no intention to victim-blame, and with recognition that only those who commit sexual violence are responsible for those actions, these suggestions may nevertheless help you to reduce your risk of experiencing a non-consensual sexual act.

These suggestions to avoid committing a non-consensual sexual act are also offered:

  • If you have limits, make them known as early as possible.
  • Tell a sexual aggressor “NO” clearly and firmly.
  • Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.
  • Find someone nearby and ask for help.
  • Take affirmative responsibility for your alcohol intake/drug use and acknowledge that alcohol/drugs lower your sexual inhibitions and may make you vulnerable to someone who views a drunk or high person as a sexual opportunity.
  • Take care of your friends and ask that they take care of you. A real friend will challenge you if you about to make a mistake. Respect them when they do.

If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe sexual respect to your potential partner.

These suggestions may help you to reduce your risk for being accused of sexual misconduct:

  • Clearly communicate your intentions to your sexual partner and give them a chance to clearly relate their intentions to you.
  • Understand and respect personal boundaries.
  • DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about consent; about someone’s sexual availability; about whether they are attracted to you; about how far you can go or about whether they are physically and/or mentally able to consent. If there are any questions or ambiguity then you DO NOT have consent.
  • Mixed messages from your partner are a clear indication that you should stop, defuse any sexual tension and communicate better. You may be misreading them.  They may not have figured out how far they want to go with you yet. You must respect the timeline for sexual behaviors with which they are comfortable.
  • Don’t take advantage of someone’s drunkenness or drugged state, even if they did it to themselves.
  • Realize that your potential partner could be intimidated by you, or fearful. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender or size.  Don’t abuse that power.
  • Understand that consent to some form of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
  • Silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent.  Read your potential partner carefully, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal communication and body language.   

And most importantly, as a bystander you have the ability to intervene and help prevent Prohibited Conduct, if you see something that doesn’t look right…speak up! Get help…dial 911.

Training Information

    1. Annual training requirements include:
      1. Survivor-centered, trauma-informed training
      2. Ability to understand policy
      3. Relevant state and federal laws
      4. Roles of responding entities
      5. Effects on survivor
      6. Types of prohibited conduct
      7. Consent
      8. Role of alcohol and drugs
      9. Bystander Intervention