Legal Definitions

Below are the legal definitions for types of violent behaviors and the concept of consent. These terms are used when reporting a complaint and during a Title IX investigation.

Sexual violence includes a continuum of conduct that includes sexual assault, non-forcible sex acts, dating and relationship violence, stalking, as well as aiding acts of sexual violence.

Per Minnesota State/WSU’s 1B.3 Sexual Violence Policy, sexual violence includes, but is not limited to, actual, attempted or threatened instances of:

  • sexual assault
  • dating and relationship violence
  • stalking

Sexual assault means an actual, attempted, or threatened sexual act with another person without that a person's consent. Sexual assault is often a criminal act that can be prosecuted under Minnesota law, as well as form the basis for discipline under Minnesota State Colleges and Universities student conduct codes and employee disciplinary standards.

Sexual assault includes but is not limited to:

  • Involvement without consent in any sexual act in which there is force, expressed or implied, or use of duress or deception upon the victim. Forced sexual intercourse is included in this definition, as are the acts commonly referred to as "date rape" or "acquaintance rape." This definition also includes the coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force sexual intercourse or a sexual act on another.
  • Involvement in any sexual act when the victim is unable to give consent.
  • Intentional and unwelcome touching, or coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force another to touch a person's intimate parts (defined as primary genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breast).
  • Offensive sexual behavior that is directed at another such as indecent exposure or voyeurism.

Dating and relationship violence includes physical harm or abuse, and threats of physical harm or abuse, arising out of a personal intimate relationship. This violence also may be called domestic abuse or spousal/partner abuse and may be subject to criminal prosecution under Minnesota state law.  

Stalking is conduct directed at a specific person that is unwanted, unwelcome, or unreciprocated and that would cause a reasonable person to:

  • fear for her or his safety
  • fear for the safety of others or
  • suffer substantial emotional distress

Consent is informed, freely given, and mutually understood willingness to participate in sexual activity that is expressed by clear, unambiguous, and affirmative words or actions.

It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in sexual activity to ensure that the other person has consented to engage in the sexual activity. Consent must be present throughout the entire sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.

If coercion, intimidation, threats, and/or physical force are used, there is no consent.

If the complainant is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the complainant cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent. This includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious.

A lack of protest, absence of resistance, or silence alone does not constitute consent, and past consent to sexual activities does not imply ongoing future consent.

The existence of a dating relationship between the people involved or the existence of a past sexual relationship does not prove the presence of, or otherwise provide the basis for, an assumption of consent.

Whether the respondent has taken advantage of a position of influence over the complainant may be a factor in determining consent.