Ferris Definitions

For more complete information and definitions refer to the Code of Student Community Standards.

  • Consent to engage in sexual activity must demonstrate that it meets the following four components; (1) informed, (2) freely and actively given, (3) mutually understandable words or actions, (4) indicating a clear agreement to engage in sexual contact of any kind. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in sexual activity to make sure that they have received consent from any person(s) involved. If an individual initiating sexual activity is not sure if they have received consent, they have an obligation to seek additional clarification.


    • Consent includes each person(s) having a clear and mutually understanding of the nature and scope of the sexual activity;
    • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual activity;
    • Informed consent cannot be given by a minor (anyone under age 16).


    Freely and Actively Given

    • Consent cannot be given by an incapacitated person(s) (see definition of incapacitation below);
    • Consent cannot be achieved through force (see definition of force below), threat, deception, intimidation or coercion (see definition of coercion below).
    • Consent cannot be assumed or implied by a current or previous dating or sexual relationship.


    Mutually Understandable Words or Actions

    • Consent consists of clear communication (words or actions) that indicates each person(s) unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity from the beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity and for each form of sexual contact;
    • Consent cannot be assumed or implied by silence, passivity, the lack of an objection. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent.


    Indicating a Clear Agreement to Engage in Sexual Contact

    • Consent can be withdrawn at any time through clear communication (words or actions) that indicates each person(s) is no longer willing to engage in sexual activity.
    • In the absence of a clear agreement to engage in sexual contact, consent does not
  • Coercion includes intimidation, deception, and/or express or implied threats of physical, reputational, financial, or emotional harm or restraint, that would reasonably place an individual in fear of immediate or future harm and that is used to persuade or compel someone to engage in sexual activity or exploitation. This includes threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.

  • Incapacitation occurs when a person is unable to make an informed and rational decision about whether or not to engage in sexual activity. This includes, but not limited to when a person is physically or mentally helpless, asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity or exploitation is occurring. When alcohol and/or drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness, impairment, or intoxication.

    The relevant standard that will be applied is whether the Respondent knew, or a sober reasonable person in the same position should have known, that the other party was incapacitated and therefore could not consent to the sexual activity.

  • Force is the use or threat of physical violence and/or strength or intimidation to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether to participate in sexual activity. Force is not limited to physical violence, but also includes threats, intimidation, abuse of power, duress or any combination of these behaviors. When determining whether or not force was involved, there is no requirement that a Complainant resist the sexual advance or request.

    However, resistance by the Complainant will be viewed as a clear demonstration of non‐consent.

  • A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress (a course of conduct means two 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 a person, or interferes with a person’s property).

  • Violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.

  • Violence committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under Michigan’s domestic violence laws.


    Michigan Domestic Violence Law (MCL 768.27):

    “Domestic violence” means the occurrence of any of the following acts by a person that is not an act of self-defense:

    (i) Causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member.

    (ii) Placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm.

    (iii) Causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.

    (iv) Engaging in activity toward a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

    “Family or household member” includes any of the following:

    (i) A spouse or former spouse.

    (ii) An individual with whom the person resides or has resided.

    (iii) An individual with whom the person has or has had a dating relationship.

    (iv) An individual with whom the person is or has engaged in a sexual relationship.

    (v) An individual to whom the person is related or was formerly related by marriage.

    (vi) An individual with whom the person has a child in common.

    (vii) The minor child of an individual described in subparagraphs (i) to (vi).

  • Taking or implying adverse action (verbal or physical) against any individual on the basis of a good faith report/allegation made by such individual is prohibited.

     Taking or implying adverse action (verbal or physical) resulting from an individual’s (real or perceived) participation in an investigation, hearing, conduct conference, or inquiry by the university or other appropriate authority, or the individual’s participation in a court proceeding relating to alleged misconduct is prohibited.

  • Any unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the ability to participate in or benefit from Ferris State University’s programs, services, or activities. Sexual harassment includes any of the following:

    • Making submission to unwelcome sexual advances, submission to requests for sexual favors, or submission to other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, a term or condition, either implicitly or explicitly, of any person’s continued employment or association with the University;
    • Making submission to, or rejection of, such conduct or communication, a factor in employment decisions affecting any person;
    • Unwelcome verbal or other conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s working conditions or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Behaviors that may create a hostile environment may include unwanted or unwelcome jokes, comments about body parts, suggestive pictures, gestures, repeated communication, excessive attention, touching, and other physical contact.


  • Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term covering various forms of sexual and gender-based violence. Sexual Misconduct includes but is not limited to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and stalking. Sexual Misconduct violates the dignity of individuals, and is antithetical to the Ferris State University community.

  • Sexual Violence is a term covering various forms of nonconsensual sexual activity, contact and exploitation. The University recognizes a number of different acts that fall into the category of sexual violence; including, rape, fondling, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. All acts of sexual violence are prohibited under Title IX gender discrimination law and by Ferris State University.

    Nonconsensual Sexual Activity: Sexual activity includes 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, without consent. Consent, as well as the terms force, coercion, and incapacitation are further defined below.

    Nonconsensual Sexual Contact: Sexual contact includes: (a) intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching another with any of these body parts; or (b) making an individual touch another person or themselves with or on any of these body parts, without consent. Consent, as well as the terms force, coercion, and incapacitation are further defined below.

    Sexual exploitation: Sexual exploitation is knowingly committing non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other nonlegitimate purpose.

    Examples include, but are not limited to:

    • Observing or attempting to observe another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity and/or contact without the knowledge and consent of all persons involved under circumstances where the persons would have a reasonable expectation of privacy;
    • Making, attempting to make, transmitting, or attempting to transmit audio, photography, and/or video of any person(s) on or off campus in bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, or other premises where there is an explicit expectation of privacy with respect to nudity (full or partial), sexual activity, and/or sexual contact without the knowledge and consent of all persons subject to such recordings.
    • Streaming or distribution of private images, photography, video or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity without the knowledge and consent of all persons involved;
    • Prostituting another individual;
    • Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
    • Knowingly exposing another person(s) to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without their knowledge; and
    • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person(s) vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity, contact, and/or exploitation.
    • Possession or distribution of photos, sound recordings, or videos of individuals under the age of 18 engaging in sexual activity and/or nudity (full or partial).