In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the University System of Georgia (USG) and Valdosta State University (VSU) do not discriminate on the basis of sex in any of its education programs or activities or in employment. The USG and VSU are committed to ensuring a safe learning and working environment for all members of the campus community. To that end, this policy prohibits sexual misconduct as defined herein.

In order to reduce incidents of sexual misconduct, USG institutions, including VSU, are required to provide prevention tools and to conduct ongoing awareness and prevention programming and training for the campus community. Such programs will promote positive and healthy behaviors and educate the campus community on consent, nonconsensual sexual misconduct, alcohol use, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, bystander intervention, and reporting.

When sexual misconduct does occur, all members of the VSU community are strongly encouraged to report the incident promptly through the procedures outlined in this policy. The purpose of this policy is to ensure uniformity in reporting and addressing sexual misconduct.

Definitions and Prohibited Sexual Misconduct

  • Community: Students, faculty and staff, as well as contractors, vendors, visitors, and guests.
  • Complainant: An individual lodging a complaint. The complainant may not always be the alleged victim.
  • Confidential Employee: University employees who have been designated by the Title IX Coordinator to talk with an alleged victim in confidence. Confidential employees must only report that the incident occurred and provide date, time, location, and name of alleged respondent (if known) without revealing any information that would personally identify the alleged victim. This minimal reporting must be submitted in compliance with Title IX and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). Confidential Employees may be required to fully disclose details of an incident in or to ensure campus safety.
  • Consent: Words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary willingness to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, intimidation or coercion, by ignoring or acting in spite of objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the respondent knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. Consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of consent previously given. Past consent does not imply present or future consent. Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent. Minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent under Georgia law. Either party can withdraw consent at any time by using clear words or actions.
  • Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the alleged victim. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
  • Domestic Violence: Violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the alleged victim; by a person with whom the alleged victim shares a child in common; by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; or, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the alleged victim.
  • Incapacitation: The physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments, and can result from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from intentional or unintentional taking of alcohol and/or other drugs. Whether someone is incapacitated is to be judged from the perspective of an objectively reasonable person.
  • Nonconsensual Sexual Contact: Any physical contact with another person of a sexual nature without the person’s consent. Sexual contact includes but is not limited to, touching (or penetrating) of a person’s intimate parts (such as breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals); touching (or penetrating) another person with one’s own intimate body parts; or forcing a person to touch his or her own or another person’s intimate body parts.
  • Privileged Employees: Individuals employed by the institution to whom a complainant or alleged victim may talk in confidence, as provided by law. Disclosure to these employees will not automatically trigger an investigation against the complainant’s or alleged victim’s wishes. Privileged Employees include those providing counseling, advocacy, health, mental health, or sexual assault related services (e.g., sexual assault resource centers, campus health centers, pastoral counselors, and campus mental health centers) or as otherwise provided by law. Exceptions to confidentiality exist where the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor (in Georgia, under the age of 18) or otherwise provided by law, such as imminent threat of serious harm.
  • Respondent: Individual who is alleged to have engaged in conduct that violates this policy.
  • Responsible Employees: Those employees who must promptly and fully report complaints of or information regarding sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. Responsible Employees include any administrator, supervisor, faculty member, or other person in a position of authority who is not a Confidential Employee or Privileged Employee. Student employees who serve in a supervisory, advisory, or managerial role are in a position of authority for purposes of this policy (e.g., teaching assistants, residential assistants, student managers, orientation leaders). Responsible Employees are not required to report information disclosed at public awareness events (e.g., “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak-outs” or other public forums in which students may disclose incidents of prohibited conduct).
  • Sexual Exploitation: Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit, or to the benefit or advantage of anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Invasion of sexual privacy.
    2. Prostituting another individual.
    3. Nonconsensual photos, video or audio of sexual activity.
    4. Nonconsensual distribution of photos, video or audio of sexual activity, even if the sexual activity was consensual.
    5. Intentional observation of nonconsenting individuals who are partially undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts.
    6. Knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another individual through sexual activity.
    7. Intentionally and inappropriately exposing one’s breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals in nonconsensual circumstances.
    8. Sexually-based bullying.
  • Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct, based on sex or gender stereotypes, that is implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment or status in a course, program or activity; is a basis for employment or educational decisions; or is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to interfere with one’s work or educational performance creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment or limiting one's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.
  • Sexual Misconduct: Includes, but is not limited to, such unwanted behavior as dating violence, domestic violence, nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and stalking.
  • Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly or through third parties , by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.