Gender-Based Misconduct Policy
Relay does not tolerate gender-based discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and all other forms of gender-based misconduct in our physical spaces or digital spaces. Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and state laws such as the New York Education Law Article 129-B (Enough is Enough) and the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act further require that Relay take specific steps to stop gender-based misconduct, remedy its effects, and prevent its recurrence. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, gender-based harassment, stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence are all forms of gender-based misconduct and will not be tolerated at Relay. These behaviors do not have to be sexual in nature to be considered gender-based misconduct. Similarly, Relay will not tolerate harassing, violent, intimidating, or discriminatory conduct by any member of the Relay community.
The goal of this policy is to create a community not impaired by gender-based misconduct of any kind by providing definitions of gender-based misconduct, avenues for those affected by gender-based misconduct to obtain assistance, and a prompt and equitable complaint-and-investigation procedure for all members of the Relay community. For the purposes of this policy, the Relay community includes, but is not limited to, students, faculty members, staff, applicants, vendors, visitors, and guests.
This policy applies to conduct occurring on campus, during any Relay class, program or activity on or off campus, including academic programs, admissions, recruitment, financial aid, and employment.
The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for ensuring compliance with Title IX, overseeing training and education, and gathering and reporting information to the campus community. The Title IX Coordinator is available to answer any questions related to this policy, definitions, procedures, resources, reporting options, and remedial and safety measures.
Relay’s Title IX coordinator is: Dr. Nichelle Bowes, 25 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10004, firstname.lastname@example.org, or (862) 250–5915.
Relay encourages individuals to report all gender-based misconduct immediately to the Title IX coordinator or an appropriate designee(s), or any other Relay staff member. Relay will fully and promptly investigate all formal reports of misconduct and will take appropriate action.
Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX may also be directed to: U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-1100, (800) 421-3481, email@example.com.
Relay will not tolerate retaliation. Retaliation is prohibited by Title IX and Relay policy. Any attempt by a member of, or visitor to, the Relay community to intimidate, penalize, or threaten a person who reports or who is otherwise involved in a report or investigation of discrimination, misconduct, or harassment is strictly prohibited. Any person found to have participated in an act of retaliation will be disciplined in accordance with Relay’s Code of Conduct. In some cases, knowingly making a false report of discrimination or harassment can amount to retaliation.
Gender-based misconduct encompasses a broad range of behaviors including sex and/or gender discrimination, which may or may not be sexual in nature. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence such as domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are other types of gender-based misconduct prohibited by law and this policy. Gender-based misconduct can be perpetrated by anyone regardless of gender identity and can occur between people of the same or different sex or gender.
Examples of gender-based misconduct include pressure to date or engage in a romantic or intimate relationship; unwelcome touching, kissing, or hugging; inappropriate remarks about a person’s gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation; inappropriate sexual innuendo or humor; unnecessary or unwelcome references to parts of the body; and forced sexual activities.
Definitions Pertaining to Gender-Based Misconduct
Sexual Harassment is a type of sex- or gender-based discrimination and is prohibited by Title IX and by Relay. Sexual harassment may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests to engage in sexual conduct or for sexual favors, and other behavior of a sexual nature where:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s education or employment;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual; and/or
- Such conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access
Sexual harassment can be verbal, visual, or physical, and it can occur regardless of the relationship, position, gender, or sexual orientation of the parties involved. It can be overt (e.g., in a suggestion that a person can get a higher grade by submitting to sexual advances), or implied from conduct or circumstances. Sexual harassment can also consist of unwelcome attempts to transform an educational or professional relationship into a personal one. It may include severe, persistent and pervasive unwelcome sexual flirtation or inappropriate or derogatory language, including jokes involving individuals or classes of people, or persistent requests for dates. A single incident or few incidents may not necessarily amount to harassment, but a single extreme incident could constitute prohibited discrimination or harassment. Sexual harassment can also include the display of offensive materials, unwelcome physical contact, or serious physical abuse such as sexual assault or rape.
Sexual Assault is any nonconsensual, intentional physical contact of a sexual nature. Sexual assault includes:
- Nonconsensual Sexual Contact: Any intentional sexual touching, however slight and with any object or body part, that is without consent (as defined in this policy) and/or by threat, intimidation, coercion, duress, violence, or by causing a reasonable fear of harm. This includes intentional contact with breasts, buttocks, groin, mouth, or genitals, as well as any other intentional bodily contact that occurs in a sexual manner.
- Rape: The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, forcibly or without affirmative consent or where the victim is incapable of affirmative consent due to mental or physical incapacity. Statutory rape is non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent. The age of consent varies by state. In New York and Illinois, the age of consent is 17.
Domestic Violence may include violent acts by a current or former spouse; by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; by a person who is or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse; by a person similarly situated to a spouse; between a parent and child; between members of the same household in an intimate relationship; or by any other person similarly situated. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, or economic in nature.
Dating Violence can be violence or abusive behavior used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another partner. It can be violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social, romantic, or intimate relationship with the victim. The existence of such a relationship will be determined by factors such as the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved.
Intimidation is implied threats or acts that reasonably cause another to fear for their safety or well-being.
Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking may include the monitoring of an individual online via social media, email, or other technology. It may also include unwanted observation or surveillance.
Affirmative Consent (“Consent”) is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. This definition does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act;
- Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol;
- Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time;
- Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent;
- Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm;
- Consent cannot be inferred by an individual’s manner of dress;
- When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop; and
- The age of consent varies by state. According to New York and Illinois law, children under 17 years of age cannot legally consent to sex or sexual contact with an adult (i.e., someone who is 17 years of age or older). Any sexual contact in New York and Illinois between a child under 17 and an adult is a crime, and any such illegal behavior between Relay students under 17 and a Relay employee or employee of a contracted service provider to Relay will be reported to an appropriate law enforcement agency. Other jurisdictions may have different standards, and any illegal behavior in such jurisdiction also will be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Incapacitation occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent. Evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of an individual’s:
- Decision-making ability;
- Awareness of consequences;
- Ability to make informed judgments;
- Capacity to appreciate the nature and the quality of the act; and
- Level of consciousness.
An individual is in violation of this policy if they engage in sexual activity with a person the individual knows or reasonably should know is incapable of making a knowing, reasonable decision about whether to engage in sexual activity.
Confidentiality may be offered by an individual who is not required by state or federal law to report known incidents of sexual assault or other crimes to institution officials. For a list of confidential resources at Relay, please see Appendix B. Members of Relay faculty and staff are mandatory reporters and cannot offer confidentiality, although they can offer privacy to the extent appropriate. Pursuant to the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, students at Relay Chicago are entitled to confidential advisors. Relay Chicago students may contact our community-based sexual assault crisis partner, Resilience, by calling (773) 907-1062. This is not a crisis hotline. If students are in crisis and in the Chicago area, they should call the Rape Crisis Hotline at (888) 293-2080.
Privacy may be offered by an individual when such an individual is unable to offer confidentiality under the law. Privacy means that a person will not disclose information unless necessary to comply with this policy and applicable laws.
Alcohol and/or Drug Use Amnesty
The health and safety of all students at Relay is of utmost importance. Relay recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that violence, including, but not limited, to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. Relay strongly encourages students to report all incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to institution officials. A bystander acting in good faith or a reporting individual acting in good faith who discloses any incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to Relay or law enforcement will not be subject to action for violations of Relay’s alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Relay also reserves the right to grant amnesty for violations of Relay policies or procedures in additional circumstances.
Safe Bystander Interventions
Observers of a sexual assault or other types of gender-based misconduct such as domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking may be able to help the victim. However, it is important that students do so in a positive manner and in a way that keeps students and the victim safe. Appropriate interventions will depend on the situation. Safe and appropriate options for bystanders may include calling the public-safety office in violent or potentially violent situations, intervening if students believe someone is in a potentially uncomfortable or unsafe situation, and/or encouraging the target of such conduct to report the incident and seek support.
It is imperative that bystanders report sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of gender-based misconduct, even if those involved in reporting the alleged misconduct may be violating other Relay policies. Relay expects that members of the community will look out for one another and immediately report troubling behavior so that Relay can put a stop to it, address the effects of the behavior, and prevent its recurrence.
Any Relay official (e.g., faculty member, dean) informed of possible discrimination, harassment, or gender-based misconduct must report it to the Title IX coordinator.
However, should students prefer to report an incident confidentially, resources outside of Relay are available. Confidential resources are only those listed in Appendix B and in Confidential Advisors.
Relay officers and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain students' privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information students provide to a nonconfidential resource will be shared only as necessary for the Title IX coordinator to investigate and/or seek a resolution.
If a reporting individual discloses an incident to a Relay employee who is responsible for responding to or reporting gender-based misconduct and does not wish to share their identity with certain parties or does not consent to Relay’s initiation of an investigation, Relay may still elect to investigate the allegations and address the conduct in an effort to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory environment or all members of its community.
Should students want to report or discuss an incident confidentially, resources outside of Relay are available. Confidential resources are only those listed in Appendix B and in Confidential Advisors.
Should students want to report or discuss an incident without confidentiality, they should contact Relay’s Title IX coordinator, Dr. Nichelle Bowes at firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting a support request or contact the Office of Student Affairs.