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Q4. Connections with the Harassment Policy?

Read what other schools have to say.

Talking Points

  1. How can an initially consensual relationship become non-consensual over time?
  2. What is a consensual relationship with a significant power differential, and can one exist or not?
  3. Give examples of “gray areas” that are “in between” clear harassment and consent that should be considered by the Committee.
  4. Are you aware that the Title IX Office frequently referees questions of which cases fall under Policy 6.4? To what extent should this be the case?
  5. How can a process determine whether a situation falls under Policy 6.4 or under Policy 6.Consensual while preserving privacy?
  6. What should the policy say about a situation where the participants maintain that they are in a consensual relationship and but an objective third party disagrees?
  7. Virginia Commonwealth University: “Relationships between an employee in a position of authority and a student also have the potential for other adverse consequences, including the filing of charges of sexual harassment and/or retaliation if one party to the relationship wishes to terminate the relationship over the other party’s objection. The initially perceived consensual nature of the relationship can ultimately be seen as inherently suspect due to the fundamental asymmetry of power in the relationship, and it thus may be difficult to establish consent as a defense to such a charge. Further, even when both parties consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for or preclude a charge or subsequent finding of sexual harassment based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct. “
  8. University of Iowa: “[Suppose] one party to the relationship wishes to terminate the relationship to the other party’s objection. In those circumstances when sexual harassment is alleged as the result of a romantic and/or sexual relationship, the existence of the relationship is not a per se violation of the Policy on Sexual Harassment. However, the apparent consensual nature of the relationship is inherently suspect due to the fundamental asymmetry of power in the relationship and it thus may be difficult to establish consent as a defense to such a charge. Even when both parties consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for or preclude a charge or subsequent finding.”

Proposed Prose for the Policy [11/13]

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Last Updated: November 21, 2017 at 6:18 am