Sexual Misconduct

If you or someone you know may be a victim of sexual misconduct, get help immediately. Resources are available 24/7 from:

  • Rape Victim Advocacy Program—319-335-6000 (confidental resource)
  • Emergency Treatment Center, UI Hospitals and Clinics—319-356-2233 (medical services)
  • UI Department of Public Safety—319-335-5022, or 911 from any campus phone (law enforcement services)
  • UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator—319-335-6200 (business hours only)

The University of Iowa prohibits sexual misconduct in any form, including sexual assault or sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and any form of nonconsensual sexual conduct. Sexual misconduct can be committed by or between people of any sexual or gender identity.

It may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behavior or attempted behavior. Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship.

Students who are victims of sexual misconduct may report the behavior to law enforcement, University administration, or both.

To make a formal complaint to University administration concerning sexual misconduct by another UI student, a faculty member, or a member of the UI staff, contact the UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator (319-335-6200). No University employee is authorized to investigate or resolve student complaints about sexual misconduct without the involvement of the UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.

In addition to violating University policy, sexual misconduct might also constitute criminal activity. Students are strongly encouraged to inform law enforcement authorities about instances of sexual misconduct. The chances of a successful criminal investigation are greatly enhanced if evidence is immediately collected and maintained by law enforcement officers.

Students who would like to discuss their situations in a private environment, and share or seek information about a sexual misconduct issue without making a formal complaint, may consult with a certified victim’s advocate at the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP). Under Iowa law, communications between a victim of a violent crime (including sexual assault) and a certified victim advocate are legally confidential and cannot be disclosed without the victim’s consent.

Assistance in reporting any form of sexual misconduct to the proper law enforcement authorities is available to any student upon request from a certified victim advocate at RVAP or from the UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.

Definition of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. The term includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and sexual intimidation.

For purposes of the Sexual Misconduct policy, consent is a freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in sexual activity or behavior, expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in the sexual activity to insure that he or she has the consent of the other to engage in the activity.

Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. For that reason, relying solely on nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstanding. Moreover, the existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of a past sexual relationship, should never provide the basis for an assumption of consent.

Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity—at any time, a participant can communicate that he or she no longer consents to continuing the activity. In addition, under Iowa law the following people are unable to give consent:

  • persons who are asleep or unconscious;
  • those who are incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication;
  • those who are unable to communicate consent due to a mental or physical condition.

A student who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of a sexual misconduct incident should not be reluctant to seek assistance for that reason. The Dean of Students will not pursue disciplinary violations against you (or against a witness) for improper use of alcohol or drugs (e.g., underage drinking) if you are making a good faith report of sexual misconduct.

In addition, the law enforcement authorities in Johnson County have a policy of not pursuing charges for improper use of alcohol against a victim of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a form of sexual misconduct and represents a continuum of conduct from forcible rape to nonphysical forms of pressure that compel individuals to engage in sexual activity against their will.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that includes verbal, written, or physical behavior of a sexual nature, directed at someone, or against a particular group, because of that person’s or group’s sex, or based on gender stereotypes, when that behavior is unwelcome and meets either of the following criteria:

  • submission or consent to the behavior is believed to carry consequences for your education, employment, on-campus living environment, or participation in a University activity (e.g., pressuring a student to engage in sexual behavior for some educational or employment benefit, or making a real or perceived threat that rejecting sexual behavior will carry a negative consequence for the student).
  • the behavior has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with your work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity. Examples include persistent unwelcomed efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship; unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities; unwanted sexual attention; repeated and unwelcome sexually-oriented teasing, joking, or flirting; or verbal abuse of a sexual nature.

Comments or communications could be verbal, written, or electronic. The behavior does not need to be directed at or to a specific student, but rather may be generalized, unwelcomed, and unnecessary comments based on sex or gender stereotypes.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation involves taking non-consensual sexual advantage of another person. Examples can include, but are not limited to the following behaviors:

  • 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

Examples of sexual intimidation include threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them; stalking and/or cyber-stalking; and engaging in indecent exposure.