Skip to content

Definitions

These definitions apply throughout Hilltopics and the Student Code of Conduct:

(1) The term “University” means the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

(2) The term “student” means a person admitted, enrolled or registered for study at the University of Tennessee, either full-time or part-time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies, as well as nondegree students. Persons not officially registered or enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the university also are considered students for purposes of these rules.

(3) The term “student organization” means an organization that is composed solely of University students that has submitted a pending application or has completed the process for registration according to university rules.

(4) The term “University-controlled property” means all land, buildings, facilities, grounds, structures, or any other property owned, leased, used, maintained, or operated by the University.  For purposes of this rule, University-controlled property includes all streets, alleys, sidewalks, and public ways abutting such property. University-controlled property also includes computers and network systems owned, maintained, or controlled by the University or funded by the University.

(5) The term “University-affiliated activity” means any activity on or off University-controlled property that is initiated, aided, authorized, sponsored, or supervised by the University.

(6) The term “University official” means an employee of the University, including faculty members and staff, or for purposes of this rule a University-recognized volunteer.  Student employees may be considered University officials when acting in the performance of their duties (e.g., event staff, resident assistants, and teaching assistants).

(7) The term “member of the University community” means any person who is a student, University official, campus visitor, or participant in a University-sponsored or University-affiliated activity.

(8) The term “possession” means actual knowledge of a substance or property and/or being in such close proximity to the substance or property that it is a reasonable presumption that one had knowledge of the substance or property.

(9) The term “weapon” means any device, instrument, or substance that is designed to, or reasonably could be expected to, inflict a wound, incapacitate, or cause serious bodily injury or death, including, but not limited to, firearms (loaded and unloaded, real firearms and devices that appear to a law enforcement officer to be real firearms), ammunition, electronic control devices (such as tasers and stun guns), devices designed to discharge an object (such as BB guns, air guns, pellet guns, potato guns, and slingshots, but not water guns), explosives, dangerous chemicals (such as mace, tear gas, and oleoresin capsicum), martial arts weapons, bows and arrows, artificial knuckles, nightsticks, blackjacks, dirks, daggers, swords, and knives with fixed blades longer than four (4) inches.  The term “weapon” does not include pocket knives that fold (but not excluding switchblades); chemical repellents available over the counter for self-defense; instruments used solely for personal hygiene, preparation of food, maintenance, University-related instruction, or University employment-related duties.

(10) The term “notice” means notice given in writing and transmitted by United States mail, courier service, and/or hand delivery to the address the University’s Registrar has on file for the student; and/or by e-mail to the student’s University-provided e-mail account. When a notice is transmitted by United States mail or courier service, the notice is effective on the date that it is mailed or delivered to the courier service. When a notice is transmitted by hand delivery, the notice is effective on the date that it is delivered to the person to whom the notice is addressed.  When a notice is transmitted by e-mail, the notice is effective on the date that the e-mail is sent.

(11) The term “coercion” means words and/or conduct that, viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person, substantially impair(s) a person’s ability to voluntarily choose whether to engage in a particular sexual act (e.g., sexual contact or sexual intercourse). Coercion is something more than mere seduction or persuasion. Coercion includes, without limitation: physical force; and words and/or conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear imminent: harm to the person’s health, safety, or property or that of a third person; threat of the loss or impairment of a job benefit; threat of the loss or impairment of an academic benefit; kidnapping of the person or a third person; or disclosure of sensitive personal information (e.g., disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression).

(12) The term “consent” means an affirmative and voluntary agreement by a person to engage in a specific sexual act. Consent must be obtained, and the responsibility for obtaining consent rests with the individual who voluntarily and physically initiates a specific sexual act, even if the other person initiated the sexual encounter.

(a) One’s own use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent from the other person.  Moreover, another person’s use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent from that person.

(b) The term “affirmative,” as used in the definition of consent, means that consent is communicated only through words and/or non-verbal actions that convey a clear agreement to engage in a specific sexual act. Whether person has communicated an agreement to engage in a specific sexual act generally is evaluated from the perspective of what a reasonable person who perceived the individual’s words and/or non-verbal actions would have understood; however, in the context of a long-term relationship between persons that has involved sexual activity and a pattern of communicating consent, whether consent has been communicated may be evaluated based on a subjective standard (i.e., what did the specific person who initiated the specific sexual act conclude?). A verbal “no” (or words equivalent to “no”) or the nonverbal communication of “no,” even if it sounds or appears insincere or indecisive, always means that consent has not been communicated, or if previously communicated has been withdrawn. The absence of a verbal “no” or the absence of a nonverbal communication of “no” does not necessarily mean that consent has been communicated. Because interpreting non-verbal actions may lead to misunderstanding and a violation of this policy, students are strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution and not rely solely on the non-verbal actions of another person in concluding that the other person has communicated consent. The University urges students to communicate with one another before engaging in a sexual act to ensure that they both wish to engage in the same sexual act.

(c) Consent cannot be obtained by or inferred from:

1. silence that is not accompanied by non-verbal actions conveying a clear agreement to engage in a particular sexual act;

2. consent communicated by the other person on a previous occasion;

3. consent communicated to another person;

4. the other person’s failure to resist physical force (however, for purposes of this policy, the other person’s resistance to physical force will be viewed as a clear demonstration that the person has not communicated consent);

5. the sexual arousal of the other person;

6. a current or previous dating, romantic, intimate, or sexual relationship with the other person;

7. currently or previously cohabitating with the other person;

8. the other person’s attire;

9. the other person’s reputation;

10. the other person’s giving or acceptance of gifts; or

11. the other person’s extension or acceptance of an invitation to go to a private residence, room, or location.

(d) Consent is not voluntary if it is obtained by coercion. Nor is consent voluntary if it is obtained from a person who is incapacitated if one knows (or a reasonable person would know) that the other person is incapacitated. Because the incapacitation of another person may be difficult for one to discern, students are strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution (i.e., when in doubt, assume that the other person is incapacitated and therefore unable to give consent.)

(e) Consent must be continual, which means that consent must exist from the beginning to the end of each sexual encounter and for each specific sexual act that occurs during a sexual encounter. A person has a right to change his/her mind; thus, consent to engage in a specific sexual act may be withdrawn by a person at any time.  A withdrawal of consent is communicated through clear words and/or clear non-verbal actions that indicate that a person no longer agrees to engage in a specific sexual act. Once a person’s withdrawal of consent has been communicated, the other person must cease the specific sexual act and must obtain consent before reinitiating the specific sexual act or any other sexual act.  Consent is automatically withdrawn when a person becomes incapacitated. Consent to one type of sexual contact or sexual intercourse (e.g., oral intercourse) does not constitute or imply consent for another type of sexual contact or sexual intercourse (e.g., vaginal intercourse), whether during a sexual encounter or during a previous sexual encounter.  The University urges students to communicate with one another throughout a sexual encounter to ensure that any progression of sexual activity is done with consent.

(13) The term “course of conduct” means two (2) 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 another person, or interferes with another person’s property.

(14) The term “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 of the violence. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; and (3) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating violence includes, without limitation, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.

(15) The term “domestic violence” means a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed:

(a) by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;

(b) by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;

(c) by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;

(d) by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or

(e) 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 in which the crime of violence occurred.

(16) The term “good faith” means having a belief in the truth of information that a reasonable person in the same situation could have, based on the information known to the person communicating the information at the time the information was communicated by that person. Information is not communicated in good faith if it is communicated with knowing or reckless disregard for information that would negate the former information.

(17) The term “incapacitated” or “incapacitation” means a temporary or permanent physical or mental state in which a person cannot make informed, rational judgments (e.g., judgments concerning sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or sexual exploitation) because: the person lacks the physical or mental capacity to understand the nature or consequences of their words and/or conduct; and/or the person is unable to physically or verbally communicate consent. Incapacitation can be voluntary or involuntary. Incapacitation is determined based on the totality of the circumstances. Incapacitation may result from:  sleep; unconsciousness; intermittent consciousness; temporary or permanent physical or mental disability; involuntary physical restraint; or the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances, including, without limitation, substances used to facilitate sexual assault (e.g., Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, and Burundanga). Alcohol and drugs are common causes of incapacitation. When alcohol or drugs are involved, Incapacitation is a state beyond mere drunkenness or intoxication. The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person; however, warning signs of incapacitation may include, without limitation: lack of control over physical movements (e.g., inability to dress/undress without assistance; inability to walk without assistance); lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings; vomiting; unresponsiveness; and inability to communicate coherently.  A person who is under the age of eighteen (18) (i.e., a minor) is incapable of giving consent; however, a person who is at least the age of thirteen (13) and less than the age of eighteen (18) is capable of giving consent to sexual acts with another person who is less than four (4) years older than them.

(18) The term “reasonable person” means a sober, objectively reasonable person in the same situation, and with the same sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation as the person whose words and/or conduct are being evaluated.

(19) The term “relationship violence” means dating violence and/or domestic violence.

(20) The term “retaliation” means an act (i) taken by a student (including an act taken through a third party) because of another person’s participation in a protected activity (ii) that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity. Protected activity includes a person’s good faith: (i) opposition to conduct prohibited under the Standards of Conduct; (ii) report to the University about conduct prohibited under the Standards of Conduct to the University; (iii) participation (or reasonable expectation of participation) in any manner in an investigation, meeting, hearing, or interim measure; or (iv) exercise of rights or responsibilities under any provision of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Retaliation violates the Standards of Conduct regardless of whether the underlying allegation of a violation of the Standards of Conduct is ultimately found to have merit. Retaliation can include an act taken against a person’s family, friends, advisors, and/or other persons reasonably expected to provide information in connection with a University investigation or hearing.

(21) The term “sexual assault” means engaging in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person.

(22) The term “sexual contact” means the intentional touching of another person (including another person’s clothing) in a sexual manner with any part of one’s body or with any object.  Sexual contact also means intentionally causing another person to touch themselves (including their clothing) in a sexual manner. Whether a touching was done in a sexual manner is determined from the perspective of a sober, objectively reasonable person in the same situation and with the same sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation as the person who was touched.

(23) The term “sexual exploitation” means an act or attempted act by a person for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, financial gain, or other personal benefit through the abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality. Examples of sexual exploitation include, without limitation: observation of a person who is undressed or engaging in sexual contact or sexual intercourse, without the consent of all persons being observed (in a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy); creation or distribution of images, photography, an audiotape, or a videotape of sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or a person’s intimate parts (i.e., genitalia, groin, breasts, buttocks) without the consent of all persons being recorded or photographed; prostituting another person; allowing others to observe, either in person or electronically, sexual contact or sexual intercourse without the consent of all persons involved in the sexual contact or sexual intercourse (in a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy); and knowingly exposing another person to a sexually transmitted infection without informing the other person that one has a sexually transmitted infection.

(24) The term “sexual harassment” means with respect to the conduct of a student, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe or pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it substantially interferes with the ability of a person to work, learn, live, or participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the University. In no event shall the term “sexual harassment” be construed to prohibit speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (e.g., mere insulting or offensive speech). Sexual harassment may include, for example, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and acts of sexual assault.  The term “sexual harassment” also means, with respect to the conduct of a student-employee (when acting as a student-employee): unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: submission to such conduct is
made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s participation in an educational program; submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for evaluation or advancement in an educational program; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. To determine whether conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration shall be given to the totality of the circumstances, including without limitation: the context in which the conduct and/or words occurred; and the frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct and/or words.

(25) The term “sexual intercourse” means 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.

(26) The term “sexual misconduct” means sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or sexual exploitation.

(27) The term “stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: (1) fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or (2) suffer substantial emotional distress.  For the purposes of this definition, the term “reasonable person” means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.

(28) The term “substantial emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.