Definitions - University of Houston
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A party that makes a complaint of Sexual Misconduct. In some cases, the University can serve as the complainant.

Ex. If an alleged victim of sexual harassment decides to file a formal complaint against the person that harassed them, they would become the complainant. The person they accused would be the respondent.


Consent is an informed and freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity. Consent can be expressed either by words or by clear and unambiguous actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of each instance of sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to initiate a sexual activity to ensure that they have the consent of the other(s) to initiate in each instance of sexual activity before they initiate the sexual activity.

Ex. John asked Jane if he could kiss her and she said yes. John had consent to kiss Jane.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence includes acts of violence committed by a

  • A current or former spouse or intimate partner of an alleged victim
  • A person with whom an alleged victim shares a child in common
  • A person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with an alleged victim as a spouse or intimate partner
  • A person similarly situated to a spouse of an alleged victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Texas.

Ex. Although Xavier and Mark were not legally married in Texas, they were legally married in another state. As such, they were considered intimate partners under UHS policy and Xavier’s physical violence against Mark was considered under the domestic violence provision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Dating Violence

Dating violence includes acts between people who are currently or formerly in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. At UHS, the existence of such a relationship shall be determined by the alleged victim with consideration of the following:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

Ex. After two weeks of dating, Stephanie hit Kevin. Her conduct will be assessed under the dating violence provision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.


A person is incapacitated, cannot consent, if:

  • The person is unconscious or otherwise unable to resist;
  • The person is unaware that sexual activity is occurring;
  • The person does not have the legal capacity to consent.

Further, a person may be unable to consent when they are mentally or physically incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication and as a result are rendered temporarily incapable of understanding, appraising or controlling their conduct. A person’s incapacity to understand, appraise or control their conduct may be analyzed based on surrounding factors including, but not limited to, hallucinations, blackouts, seizures, vomiting, slurred speech, disorientation, or incoordination.

Ex. In their investigation the allegation that the victim was incapacitated, the EOS investigator asked all of the party goers if it appeared that the alleged victim was under the influence of drugs and alcohol to the extent that they were unconscious or unaware of what was going on at the approximate time that the alleged misconduct occurred.

Intimate Partner Violence

A term used to describe a range of prohibited actions that occur between people who have or have had a romantic or sexual relationship. Intimate partner violence can be a single event or a pattern of behavior that includes sexual and/or physical abuse. The term encompasses domestic violence and dating violence.

Non-consensual Sexual Contact

Nonconsensual sexual contact is any intentional touching in a sexual manner, however slight or momentary, or the use of an object to touch another in a sexual manner.

Ex. The complaint alleged Hakeem intentionally touched Sara in a sexual manner without her consent.


A party who has been accused of committing an act of Sexual Misconduct by a Complainant.

Ex. If alleged victim of sexual harassment decides to file a formal complaint against the person that harassed them, that person would be the respondent. The person who filed the complaint would be the complainant.


A disciplinary action taken against the respondent for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Ex. Possible sanctions for a person that commits sexual assault at UHS is suspension or expulsion.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is sexual intercourse that occurs without consent.

  • Sexual Activity – Intercourse, however slight, meaning:
    • Vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger,
    • Anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger,
    • Oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact).

Ex. Even though Peter only meant to haze the pledge, the conduct was considered a sexual activity. If the evidence of the sexual activity showed that it was unwanted or coerced, it would be considered a sexual assault.

Sexual activity also includes:

  • Any intentional contact with another’s intimate body parts defined as the person’s breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals,
  • Touching another with any of these body parts
  • Making another touch a person or themselves with or on any of these body parts;
  • Any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation occurs when a party takes non‐consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other Sexual Misconduct offenses.

Ex. Peter was accused of video recording Steven’s sexual activity without his consent. That activity is covered under the sexual exploitation provision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that includes verbal, written or physical behavior of a sexual nature, directed at someone, or against a particular group, because of that person’s or group’s sex, or based on gender stereotypes, when that behavior is unwelcome, severe or pervasive, and where it meets either of the following criteria:

  • Submission or consent to the behavior is believed to carry consequences for the individual’s education, employment, on-campus living environment or participation in a University-affiliated activity.

    Ex. Samantha’s boss told her that if she went on a date with him, he would give her a raise.

  • The behavior has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with another’s work or educational performance by creating an intimidating or hostile environment for employment, education, on-campus living or participation in a University-affiliated activity

    Ex. Over the course of the semester, Heidi made several unwelcome attempts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship with Alex. Her actions may be considered sexual harassment.

Sexual Misconduct

A broad term encompassing a range of non-consensual sexual activity or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. The term includes sexual harassment, nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and intimate partner violence.


Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to

  • Fear for their safety and/or the safety of others; or
  • Suffer substantial emotional distress

Ex. After their break up, Peter sent threatening emails and followed his ex., Kim, to class every day for a week. His conduct caused Kim to be fearful and she filed a complaint. Peter’s conduct would be investigated under the stalking provision of the policy.


Any person who has been accepted for admission or who is currently or was previously enrolled in the University pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional studies, whether full-time or part-time, and a person who is registered for a future semester.

Title IX Coordinator

The person who has been designated on each component institution campus to coordinate efforts to comply with and implement this Policy. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for conducting the administrative investigation of reports of Sexual Misconduct and is available to discuss options, provide support, explain University policies and procedures and provide education on relevant issues. The Title IX Coordinator may designate one or more Assistant Title IX Coordinators.

University-Affiliated Activity

Any activity on or off campus that is initiated, aided, authorized or supervised by the University or by an officially-recognized organization of the University.

Ex. Although it took place at Reliant Stadium, graduation is a university-affiliated activity.

University Community

All faculty, staff, and students of and visitors to any University premises or University-affiliated activity.

Ex. Although the delivery man was not an employee or a student, he was considered to be a part of the university community when he visited campus. As such, he was expected to adhere to the Sexual Misconduct Policy whenever he was on campus.

University Premises

Buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled or supervised by the University.

Ex. The dorms were considered university premises because it is controlled by the university.