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Below are key terms as defined by WVU Board of Governors Policy 44


“Discrimination” is conduct that is based upon an individual’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, marital or family status, pregnancy, veteran status, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or gender expression and excludes an individual from participation, denies the individual the benefits of, treats the individual differently or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a University program or activity. This includes failing to provide reasonable accommodation, consistent with state and federal law, to persons with disabilities. It does not, however, include programs or activities specifically exempt by law. See, e.g., 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a) (2015). 


“Harassment” is conduct that creates a hostile environment, as defined below, and is based upon an individual’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, marital or family status, pregnancy, veteran status, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or gender expression. Harassment may take various forms, including, but not limited to, name-calling, graphic or written statements (including the use of social media, text messages, email, or other similar forms), or other conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating. Harassment does not necessarily have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. 


“Hostile environment” means a situation where an individual is subjected to any conduct based on the reasons set forth in Section 4.3.1 and that conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive, or so objectively offensive, so as to unreasonably interfere with an individual’s educational experience, work or academic performance or deny or limit the individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs, services, opportunities, or activities. 

A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in a University program or activity (e.g., administrators, faculty members, students, and even campus guests). Mere offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment. Although repeated incidents increase the likelihood that harassment has created a hostile environment, a serious incident, even if isolated, can be sufficient to create a hostile environment. 

In determining whether harassment has created a hostile environment, consideration will be made not only as to whether the conduct was unwelcome to the person who feels harassed, but also whether a reasonable person in a similar situation would have perceived the conduct as sufficiently severe or pervasive, or objectively offensive. Also, the following factors will be considered: 

(i) The degree to which the conduct affected one or more students’ education or individual’s employment; 
(ii) The nature, scope, frequency, duration, and location of incident or incidents; 
(iii) The identity, number, and relationships of persons involved. 


“Sexual harassment” means harassment that creates a hostile environment based on sex, as defined above, and also unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature on or off campus that is sufficiently severe or pervasive when (i) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic performance or participation in University programs or activities; or (ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement. In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration shall be given to the record as a whole and to the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of sexual behavior and the context in which the alleged incident(s) occurred. Sexual harassment may occur between people of the same sex or people of different sexes. 

Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to, unsolicited, deliberate, or repeated touching, sexual flirtation, advances or propositions which are not welcomed and/or desired; unwelcome jokes, stories, comments, innuendos, or other sexually oriented statements which are specifically designed to embarrass or humiliate through their sexual subject matter content; unwelcome sexual communication such as graphic or degrading comments about one’s gender related to personal appearance; unwelcome display of sexually explicit materials, objects, or pictures in an individual’s place of work or study, such as viewing material on computers or other electronic devices where others can see. Importantly, these and any other examples in this Policy, are provided only for {W0032189.1} Page 5 of 11 illustration purposes and all conduct must still meet the applicable definitions in the Policy before rising to the level of prohibited conduct. 


“Consent” is defined as agreement, approval, or permission as to some act or purpose that is given knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily by a competent person. A person is not competent and therefore lacks the ability to consent where there is either forcible compulsion or incapacity to consent. A person is deemed incapable of consent when that person is either less than sixteen years old, mentally incapacitated, or physically unable to resist. It is important to remember that silence, by itself, cannot constitute consent. 

“Forcible compulsion” means (a) physical force that overcomes such earnest resistance as might reasonably be expected under the circumstances; or (b) threat or intimidation, expressed or implied, placing a person in fear of immediate death or bodily injury to himself or herself or another person or in fear that he or she or another person will be kidnapped; or (c) fear by a person under sixteen years of age caused by intimidation, expressed or implied, by another person who is at least four years older than the victim. 

Consent to one sexual act does not constitute or imply consent to a different sexual act. Previous consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts. Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship status or sexual history together. Intoxication from alcohol or drug use, alone, does not bar consent, but can when a party is so intoxicated as to be incapacitated; i.e., unable to knowingly and intentionally make decisions for him or herself. 

Incapacitation negates consent when the alleged perpetrator knows, or a reasonable person in his or her position, under the circumstances, should know, that the alleged victim is incapacitated. 


“Domestic misconduct” means “domestic violence” and “dating violence” as defined below. 

Domestic Violence

“Domestic Violence” means a felony or misdemeanor crime of 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 who has cohabitated with the alleged victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the alleged victim under the domestic or family laws of the State of West Virginia, by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of West Virginia. “Domestic Violence” under the laws of the State of West Virginia, which is also prohibited by this Policy, means: (i) unlawfully and intentionally making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with one’s family or household member(s); (ii) unlawfully and intentionally causing physical harm to one’s family or household member(s); (iii) unlawfully attempting to commit a violent injury against one’s family or household member(s); or (iv) unlawfully committing an act which places one’s family or household member(s) in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury. 

For purposes of this subsection, “family or household members” means persons who: (1) are or were married to each other; (2) are or were living together as spouses; (3) are or were sexual or intimate partners; (4) are or were dating: provided, that a casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context does not establish a dating relationship; (5) are or were residing together in the same household; (6) have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; (7) have the relationships described in W. Va. Code § 48-27-204. 

Dating Violence

“Dating Violence” means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship; the type of relationship; and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. The view of the Complainant shall generally be controlling in determining whether such a relationship existed. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence, for purposes of this Policy, does not include emotional abuse. 


“Sexual misconduct” means “sexual assault” and “sexual exploitation” as defined below. It is a broad term used to encompass unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is prohibited by Title IX and West Virginia University.

Sexual Assault 

“Sexual Assault” means sexual intercourse or sexual contact that occurs without Consent. Sexual Assault also means an offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest or statutory rape as used in the FBI’s UCR program. 

Sexual Contact 

“Sexual Contact” means any (1) intentional touching, either directly, through clothing, or with an object, of the breasts, buttocks, anus or any part of the sex organs of another person; or (2) intentional touching of any part of another person’s body by the actor’s sex organs. 

Sexual intercourse 

“Sexual intercourse” is defined as anal, oral, or vaginal penetration, however slight, by an inanimate object or another’s body part, including, but not limited to a penis, tongue, or finger. 

Sexual exploitation 

“Sexual exploitation” means taking sexual advantage of another person without his or her consent. Sexual advantage includes, without limitation, causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person in order to gain a sexual advantage over such other person; causing the prostitution of another person; recording, photographing or transmitting identifiable images of private sexual activity and/or the intimate parts of another person; allowing third parties to observe private sexual acts; and engaging in voyeurism. 


“Stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (i) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (ii) suffer substantial emotional distress. One engages in an impermissible course of conduct under this definition if one engages in two or more acts that include, but are 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 in a way prohibited as described above, or interferes with a person’s property. 

A “reasonable person”, for purposes of this definition, means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim. 

“Substantial emotional distress”, for purposes of this definition, means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. 


“Retaliate” means to take an adverse action against an individual or subject an individual to conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with that individual’s educational experience, work or academic performance, or creates an educational experience or academic or work environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating or hostile because of something that individual did to further this Policy, including but not limited to filing a complaint or being a witness in or supporter of or against a complaint. This includes interfering with the reporting of or the investigation of prohibited behavior, such as tampering with or destroying relevant evidence; intimidating, threatening or attempting to influence, in any way, the testimony or information of a Reporter, Complainant, or witness.

Seeking help?

If you are fearful for yourself or another person in your current environment or situation call 911 immediately.

Find an emergency contact

West Virginia University Campus Police: 304-293-3136.


An interactive bystander intervention training program that teaches students to realistically and effectively intervene in high-risk situations.

Learn more about WELLAWARE

File a complaint

File a complaint regarding discrimination, harassment, sexual & domestic misconduct (including sexual assault), stalking, or retaliation.

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Prevention Programs

Learn more about sexual assault and power-based personal violence prevention programs offered at West Virginia University.

View available programs.

WVU Peer Advocates

Get involved and make a difference

West Virginia University signed onto the national It’s On Us campaign in 2015 to continue violence prevention efforts and reinforce Mountaineers’ rights under Title IX.

Under the It’s On Us campaign, the University coordinates the WVU Peer Advocate program. Through this initiative, expertly trained students work to end sexual assault and power-based personal violence on campus through immediate crisis intervention and prevention awareness events.

Any student is welcome and encouraged to become a WVU Peer Advocate and can become involved by contacting a Title IX Education Specialist.

  • To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
  • To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
  • To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
  • To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
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