University of Vermont

What is Sexual Misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is a broad term including any unwelcome, non-consensual act of a sexual nature which can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. While it can include sexual assault, which is discussed in detail on this web site, it also includes a broader range of behaviors and attempted behaviors.  Sexual misconduct can manifest in various ways and in various levels of severity; some of the more common types of sexual misconduct are described below. 

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation means taking non-consensual sexual advantage of another person. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Sexting: electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds, or images without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved
  • Voyeurism: spying on others who are in intimate or sexual situations; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person without that person's consent.
Sexual Intimidation

Sexual intimidation occurs when someone willfully and/or maliciously threatens another person or series of people in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or threatened. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them;
  • Stalking;
  • Cyber-stalking; or
  • Engaging in indecent exposure.
Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment means unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:

  • Submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student’s education access or an employee’s conditions of employment; or
  • Submission to or rejection of the conduct is the basis for decisions affecting a student’s education or an employee’s employment; or
  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of:
    • substantially interfering with or detracting from a student’s educational performance or access to university resources; or
    • substantially interfering with or detracting from a an employee’s work performance; or
    • creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • unwelcome touching, patting, pinching, or leering;
  • unwelcome commentary about an individual's body or sexual activities;
  • unwelcome sexual attention or sexual propositions;
  • repeated and unwelcome sexually-oriented teasing, joking, or flirting;
  • verbal abuse of a sexual nature.

Not all sexual harassment rises to the level of sexual misconduct.  But if the behavior is severe enough, sexual harassment can also be sexual misconduct. 

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a severe type of sexual misconduct which includes rape and any other forced sexual contact. Click here for more detailed information about sexual assault.

It is important to remember that each of these examples can be committed by and against people of any gender, sexual orientation, age, or University status (faculty, staff, or students).  For more resources, click here.

Last modified February 19 2014 01:51 PM