The following section defines sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment under Title IX, and other terms related to the Title IX grievance process.

I.  Sex discrimination

Discrimination, defined as actions that deprive other members of the University community of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities on the basis of that person’s sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

II.  Sexual Misconduct

The following conduct and behaviors are prohibited under this policy:

  • Administration of date rape drug(s)
  • Touching of a non-private body part with the person’s own private body part
  • Attempted sexual assault

The following behaviors are prohibited under this policy when motivated by the actual or perceived membership of the complainant’s sex or gender:

  • Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person
  • Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another.
  • Hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the University community when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining or any other group-affiliation activity (as defined further in Hazing Policy)
  • Bullying, defined as:
    • repeated and/or severe
    • aggressive behavior
    • likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally
    • that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the 1st

III.  Sexual Harassment Under Title IX

Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Title IX defines sexual harassment as conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following three types of behavior:

  1. Quid pro quo harassment

A Rockford University employee conditioning provision of an aid, benefit or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct. For example, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a person having power or authority over another constitutes sexual harassment when submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating or evaluating an individual’s educational or employment progress, development or performance. This includes when submission to such conduct would be a condition for access to receiving the benefits of or opportunities in any educational or employment program.

Quid pro quo harassment does not need to be severe and pervasive as required under Item III.2. below, because the abuse of authority in the form of even a single instance is inherently offensive and serious enough to jeopardize equal educational access.

  1. Denial of Equal Educational Access due to Severe, Pervasive, and Objectively Offensive Conduct (Davis Standard)

Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to Rockford University’s education program or activity.

Signs of enduring unequal educational access due to severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive sexual harassment may include skipping class to avoid a harasser, a decline in a student’s grade point average, or having difficulty concentrating in class. However, no concrete injury is required to conclude that serious harassment would deprive a reasonable person in the complainant’s position of the ability to access Rockford University’s education program or activity on an equal basis with persons who are not suffering such harassment.

  1. Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking

Sexual Assault: Forcible or non-forcible sex offenses under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program (U.C.R.). Various forms of sexual assault include:

Sex Offenses, Forcible: Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

Forcible Rape: (Except Statutory Rape) The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Forcible Sodomy: Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Sexual Assault with an Object: To use an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Forcible Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Sex Offenses, Nonforcible: (Except Prostitution Offenses) Unlawful, nonforcible sexual intercourse.

Incest: Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

Statutory Rape: Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent. In Illinois, the age of consent is 17.

Dating Violence: 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:

  1. The length of the relationship
  2. The type of relationship
  3. The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

Domestic Violence: Felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the 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, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or 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 jurisdiction. 34 U.S.C. 12291 (a)(8)

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 suffer substantial emotional distress.

Sexual assault, which includes rape, is referenced in the third prong of the definitions of sexual harassment. Note that any report of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking is not subject to the Davis elements referenced in the second prong of definitions of sexual harassment, which consider whether the incident was “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” A single act of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking does not need to demonstrate severity, pervasiveness, objective offensiveness, or denial of equal access to education because denial of equal access is assumed. Therefore, complainants can feel confident reporting such incidents to Rockford University and receive supportive measures without wondering whether sexual assault is ‘bad enough’ to report.

Rockford University is required under Federal Title IX regulations to respond to incidents of sexual harassment as stated above. Additionally, conduct outlined in the above definitions of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct may be considered a violation of Illinois law and subject to mandatory reporting and/or criminal investigation.

Examples include of conduct prohibited under this policy include: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwelcome sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply with a sexual based request; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence, stalking; gender-based bullying.


Relevant Terms

The following terms are related to the grievance process required under Title IX to address incidents of sexual harassment. To learn more about the grievance process, see Grievance Process for Formal Complaints of Sexual Harassment.

Actual Knowledge: Notice of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment delivered to the Rockford University Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Such notice includes reports sent to the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by telephone, by email, telephone call, in-person, or by using the University online report form which can be found here.

Advisor: An individual who provides support, guidance, and/or assistance to the complainant or responding party throughout the investigation, hearing, appeals, and/or informal resolution process. Complainants and respondents have the right to select an advisor of their choice. Advisors may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other supporter a party chooses to advise them who is both eligible and available. Advisors are required during the hearing process. If a party does not have an advisor present at the hearing process, Rockford University will provide the party with an advisor. Additional information about the role of advisors can be found in the section Rights to an Advisor.

Complaint: A document that initiates the conduct process under the Rockford University Code of Conduct (for incidents involving students) or Faculty and Employee Handbooks (for incidents involving employees) against a respondent alleging sexual misconduct. For more information about how to file a complaint, see Conduct Process Overview in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, or Employee Handbook.

Complainant: An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment. A complainant may, but is not required to be, a student, employee, or other Rockford University community member.

Consent: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent is active, not passive. Consent can be given by word or action, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions) of sexual activity. A person’s lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the use or threat of force does not constitute consent. A person’s manner of dress does not constitute consent. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity. Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts. Consent can be withdrawn once given as long as that withdrawal is clearly communicated. A person cannot consent to sexual activity if that person is unable to understand the nature of the activity or give knowing consent due to circumstances, including without limitation the following:

(A) the person is incapacitated due to the use or influence of alcohol or drugs;
(B) the person is asleep or unconscious
(C) the person is under age; or
(D) the person is incapacitated due to a mental disability.

Education Program or Activity: All of the operations of Rockford University which may be on or off campus, as well as locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which an incident of sexual harassment occurs. Additionally, any building owned or controlled by student organizations which are officially recognized by the University are also considered to be part of the University’s  education program or activity, {irrespective of whether the building is on or off campus and irrespective of whether the University exercises substantial control over the respondent and the context of the harassment other than the fact that the University officially recognizes the fraternity or sorority that owns or controls the building. Therefore, Title IX requires the University to investigate formal complaints alleging sexual harassment that occurred in a fraternity or sorority building (located on or off campus) owned by a fraternity or sorority that is officially recognized by the University as a Greek life organization.}

Rockford University’s education program or activity also extends to operations which include computer and internet networks, digital platforms, and computer hardware or software owned or operated by, or used in the operations of the University.

Formal Complaint: A document that initiates the grievance process of this policy against a respondent alleging Title IX sexual harassment. A formal complaint must be filed by the complainant or signed by the Title IX coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that Rockford University investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. At the time of filing a formal complaint, the complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in an education program or activity at the University. A formal complaint may be a document or electronic submission sent via email or the Rockford University online reporting system that contains the complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the complainant is the person filing the complaint.

Submission of a formal complaint to Rockford University is not equivalent to filing charges with local law enforcement and does not require a complainant to file charges with local law enforcement. For more information about reporting incidents of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment to local law enforcement, see Reporting Options.

Investigation Team: Individuals assigned by the Title IX Coordinator to conduct investigations following reports of alleged sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. The investigation team typically is comprised of members of the Title IX team, but the Title IX Coordinator may decide to use one or more appropriately trained University employees who are not members of the Title IX team or external investigators in addition to, or instead of members of the Title IX team when s/he considers it appropriate to do so. Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will assign the investigator(s) to begin the investigation.

Report: Notice, either written or oral, provided to the Title IX Coordinator of an alleged incident of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct. Any person, regardless of whether or not the person reporting the alleged incident is the person alleged to be the victim the incident may report sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. Reports may be made to the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by telephone, by email, or by using the Rockford University online report form, which can be found here. Reports may be made at any time, including non-business hours, by using the telephone number of email address or by mail to the office address listed for the Title IX Coordinator. A report is distinguished from a formal complaint and complaint as defined above.

Respondent: An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.

Responsible Employees: Employees who have the authority to take action to redress sexual violence, who have been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by members of the Rockford University community (students, staff, faculty, guests, visitors) to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate University designees, or whom a reporting party could reasonably believe have this authority or duty. Responsible Employees who receive information or a report about any act that potentially constitutes sexual misconduct or sexual harassment must further report that information to the Title IX Coordinator.

The following employees of Rockford University are Responsible Employees: faculty, staff, Resident Advisors, and Graduate Assistants. In addition, Responsible Employees are expected to make every effort to explain their duty to report to anyone disclosing, or about to disclose, information to them.

Standard of Evidence –Preponderance of the Evidence: The standard used to determine if a Title IX policy violation occurred. Rockford University uses a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means that the evidence demonstrated in the grievance process demonstrates that it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct or policy violation occurred.

Supportive Measures: Non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the complainant or respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to Rockford University’s education programs or activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the University’s educational environment, or deter sexual harassment. Supportive measures may include: the ability to change housing assignments; change work schedules; alter academic schedules; withdraw from/retake a class without penalty; and issue no contact orders. 

Updated: August 2020

Compliance and Title IX
Burpee Center, Student Life Suite
5050 E. State Street
Rockford, IL 61108