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Office of Title IX

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Title IX

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs, activities, admission and employment. Complaints of sex-based discrimination, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual or gender-based harassment are governed by NOVA's Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct. Title IX states that:

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.

Educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance are covered by Title IX. In compliance with Title IX, NOVA prohibits discrimination in employment as well as in all programs and activities on the basis of sex.

Here are some things you should know about your Title IX rights at NOVA:

  • NOVA must respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence
  • NOVA must provide interim measures as necessary
  • NOVA should make known where you can find confidential support services
  • NOVA must conduct an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation
  • NOVA must provide remedies as necessary

NOVA’s Sexual Misconduct Policy covers a wide range of behaviors prohibited under Title IX. Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and relationship violence.

Definitions & Types of Sexual Misconduct

The following are some of the important terms that are used frequently, with their definitions.

Consent is a clear, mutual understanding between two people that both of them are willing to engage in sexual activity.

Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. Any sexual activity or sex act committed against one’s will, by the use of force, threat, intimidation, or ruse, or through one’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness is without consent. Past consent to sexual activities, or a current or previous dating relationship, does not imply ongoing or future consent. Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). An individual cannot consent who is under the age of legal consent. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred.

  • Mental incapacity means the condition of a person existing at the time which prevents the person from understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual act involved (the who, what, when, where, why, and how) and about which the accused knew or should have known. This includes incapacitation through the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Physical helplessness means unconsciousness or any other condition existing at the time which otherwise rendered the person physically unable to communicate an unwillingness to act and about which the accused knew or should have known. Physical helplessness may also be reached through the use of alcohol or drugs.

Relationship violence (also called domestic violence, intimate partner violence or dating violence) is verbal, physical or sexual abuse inflicted on a dating, domestic, or intimate partner to gain power or control.

  • Dating Violence: Dating violence is violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury, sexual assault, or death committed by a person who is or has been in a close relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the other person. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury, sexual assault, or death and that is committed by a person against such person's family or household member, which includes a current or former spouse, a person with whom the complainant shares a child in common, or who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the person as a spouse or intimate partner.

Sexual assault is any sexual activity that occurs without the victim’s consent. These behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-consensual kissing and fondling
  • Non-consensual vaginal, oral, or anal sex
  • Non-consensual vaginal, oral or anal penetration with an object or a finger

Sexual assault is defined as the intentional physical sexual contact with a person against that person’s will by the use of force, threat, or intimidation, or through the use of a person’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness. Sexual assault includes intentionally touching, either directly or through clothing, the complainant’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the person’s consent, as well as forcing someone to touch or fondle another against his or her will. Sexual assault may also include inanimate and animate object sexual penetration.

Sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

  • Quid Pro Quo: The submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for educational or employment decisions affecting the student or employee either explicitly or implicitly;
  • Hostile Environment: Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to an education program or activity of the College, including a student's educational experience or an employee's work performance;
  • Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (as those offenses are defined in the Clery Act, 20U.S.C.§1092 (f), and the Violence Against Women Act, 34U.S.C.§12291(a)).

Stalking is repeated threats or unwanted attention from one person that induces fear. Covering a range of behaviors, the key elements of stalking are repetition and inducing fear.

Stalking occurs when someone, on two or more occasions, engages in conduct directed at another person with the intent to place, or knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, criminal sexual assault, or death to that other person or to that other person's family or household member. Sex/gender-based stalking is a violation of NOVA’s Interim Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.

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