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What is Sexual Harassment and Misconduct?

Sexual Harassment and Misconduct is unwanted, non-consensual sexual activity by one person against another person.  It may or may not involve direct physical contact. Under University policy*,  sexual misconduct includes sexual assault, sexual exploitation, gender-based stalking, and relationship violence.

Detailed information regarding support services and reporting options is available at the University’s website for Title IX and Sexual Misconduct.

Communications Related to Sexual Harassment & Misconduct

View UVM's Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy and Definitions


Sexual misconduct may involve a lack of consent for sexual activity. In general terms, consent is an exchange of words or actions that indicate a person’s willingness to engage in sexual acts. Under UVM policy:

  • It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual contact to ensure that they have consent from any other party of parties involved;
  • Consent may be expressed by words or behavior, but cannot be granted by any means if the person giving consent is incapable of doing so for any reason, including because of alcohol and drug consumption to the point of incapacitation. Persons under the age of 16 are incapable of providing consent for sexual activity under UVM policy.  
  • Consent is specific to a particular sexual activity, and is therefore absent when the sexual activity exceeds the scope of the consent given;
  • Consent may be withdrawn at any time;

Sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct occur against people of all genders and sexual orientations. Sexual assaults are often committed by an acquaintance and may involve the use of alcohol by one or both persons. Use of alcohol or drugs should not be a barrier to reporting sexual misconduct against you or someone else – UVM policy provides protection against conduct charges for personal alcohol or drug use for those who report sexual misconduct, or serve as witnesses during the University investigation process. Incidents of sexual misconduct are against the law and University policy.

What should I do if I experience or learn of an incident of Sexual Harassment or Misconduct?

If you experience, or learn that a student has experienced, sexual misconduct, you are not alone. There are University and community resources available to support and assist you.

The University has confidential support resources such as:

NOTE: If the student is under 18, even medical providers and counselors may be mandated to report certain incidents.

The University has the following non-confidential support and reporting options:

UVM Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO): (802) 656-3368
UVM Police Services: (802) 656-3473 

NOTE: Sexual harassment and misconduct is often a crime, and always a violation of UVM policy. You can make a report through either or both systems.

If you are considering seeking support services, it is always wise to ask about confidentiality before you share anything with a service provider.

If a student discloses an incident of sexual harassment or misconduct to you:


  • Assess the situation for immediate needs – does the student need medical care, victim’s advocacy services, or wish to report to police? You may wish to help the student connect with these resources. 
  • If you are a UVM Reporter, you must follow University procedures for reporting the incident to AAEO via the email address, and to Police Services via the online Campus Security Authority (CSA) form. Before doing so, it is important that you explain your role, and what information you are required to share, with the student.
  • Encourage the student to seek support services like counseling, advocacy, and medical care, whether or not they wish to make a report. Advocacy support is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from HOPE Works — the leading crisis counseling and advocacy agency in Chittenden County. Their trained advocates serve UVM students of all genders, sexual orientations and other identities, as well as faculty and staff. Learn more about HOPE Works and UVM.
  • Notify the student that they do not need to make a police report to seek medical attention. Medical care is available to UVM students on campus at Student Health Services, as well as off-campus at the emergency room. There may be injuries or exposure to infections as a result of sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct, and seeking medical attention immediately provides the most options in the prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and preservation of evidence.


  • Ever assume sexual harassment or misconduct is the student’s fault. No matter what happened, no one has the right to hurt, pressure, or coerce another into sexual contact. If the individual is unsure whether the experience is sexual harassment or misconduct, talking to a trained counselor or advocate at HOPE Works, CAPS counselor, or AAEO might help clarify things.
  • Fail to report – incidents of sexual misconduct may include a pattern of conduct against an individual, or against many individuals. Failure to report sexual misconduct can result in continuing and widespread harm to the campus community. The primary goal of reports is to provide the person who discloses sexual misconduct with support services and reporting options.