The information on this page has been adapted from the UBC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and contains direct quotes.
UBC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy (pdf) creates a support system for those impacted by sexualized violence, through the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office’s (SVPRO), as well as a separate voluntary reporting and investigation system through the Investigations Office.
It is important to provide definitions to create a shared vocabulary. Consistency in our understanding of these definitions is crucial to the prevention of sexual violence. We recognize definitions exist not just in policy but also in the application of our lived experiences. SVPRO can provide additional context and exploration of these terms to help deepen our understanding individually, and contribute to our shared understanding as a community.
What is sexual misconduct?
As defined in Section 2.1 of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, sexual misconduct includes sexualized violence and refers to any sexual act or act targeting an individual’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened, or attempted against an individual without that individual’s Consent.
Examples of sexual misconduct
The following list, taken from Section 2.1 of the Policy, sets out examples of Sexual Misconduct and is intended to help members of the UBC community understand the kinds of acts that will be considered Sexual Misconduct. The list is not exhaustive and other acts may constitute Sexual Misconduct under this Policy even if they do not appear in the list below. Sexual Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Any form of sexual touching or the threat, express or implied, of sexual touching without the individual’s Consent
Unwelcome conduct, by comment or gesture, of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the working, learning, or living environment, or leads to adverse consequences for the individual directly subjected to the harassment
Stalking and cyberstalking
Stalking through the use of the internet or other electronic means, or engaging in unwelcome conduct, expressed or implied, that causes an individual to fear for their physical or psychological safety. It can include repeatedly following the individual, repeatedly communicating with the individual through any means, engaging in threatening conduct, or keeping watch over the place where the individual happens to be
Exposing one’s body to another individual either physically, electronically, or through any other means, for a sexual purpose without the individual’s consent, or coercing another individual to remove their clothing in order to expose their body
Non-consensual viewing, photographing, or otherwise recording another individual in a location where there is an expectation of privacy and where the viewing, photographing, or recording is done for a sexual purpose
The distribution of a sexually explicit photograph or recording
Distribution can be of an individual to one or more individuals other than the individual in the photograph or recording without the consent of the individual in the photograph or recording
According to Section 2.2 of the Policy, consent is the active, voluntary agreement to engage, and to continue to engage, in the sexual activity in question and cannot be implied, which means it must be affirmatively given and cannot be assumed by an individual’s silence or inaction, as stated in Section 4.1.1 of the Policy.
Section 4.1 of the Policy states the following. The initiator of a sexual activity is responsible for obtaining consent for that sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn by any party at any time during the sexual activity through words or actions, and if consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must stop.
Voluntary agreement to engage, or continue to engage, in sexual activity must be affirmatively communicated through words or actively expressed through conduct.
Consenting to one kind of sexual activity does not mean that consent is given for another sexual activity, and consent given only applies to each specific instance of sexual activity. Neither the relationship status of the parties nor past consent to sexual activity gives or implies future or ongoing consent.
An individual who is incapacitated cannot give voluntary consent. Consent is not voluntary when obtained through the abuse of a position of trust, power, or authority, or through fraud or coercion, or due to fear of consequences, violence, or retaliation.
Individuals cannot give consent if they are not able to appreciate the nature of the sexual activity, or to appreciate the risks and consequences of the sexual activity, or are otherwise unable to choose whether to engage in the sexual activity. For example, an individual is incapable of consenting if the individual is:
Asleep or unconscious
Unable to consent due to ingestion of drugs or alcohol, or
Under the legal age of consent as defined in the Canadian Criminal Code.
Evidence of consent
Under Section 4.1 of the Policy, evidence that an individual’s judgment was impaired by alcohol or drugs is a relevant consideration for determining whether the individual consented to the sexual activity in question.
A Respondent’s mistaken belief, formed due to intoxication or impairment from drugs or alcohol, that there was consent is not a defence to the allegation of Sexual Misconduct.
A person’s sexual reputation or history of sexual activity cannot be submitted as evidence to prove that it was likely that consent had been given.
Even if sexual activity occurs outside of the class of Prohibited Relationships, there is an inherent risk that consent is not voluntary whenever there is a relationship of trust or authority in which there is an imbalance, or perceived imbalance of power. Where there is an allegation of Sexual Misconduct in these relationships the nature of the relationship will be a significant factor in determining whether there was consent.
UBC recognizes that certain relationships between students and other members of the UBC community are relationships of heightened trust and vulnerability.
In accordance to Section 1.11 of the Policy, sexual or intimate relationships between individuals in the following classes of Members of the UBC Community where there is a supervisory role or where an individual has influence over a student’s current or future academic activities, working conditions, or career advancement are Prohibited Relationships:
Faculty, or Teaching Staff Members, or emeriti and Students
Staff and Students
Coaching Staff Members and Student athletes
Faculty, or Teaching Staff Members, or emeriti and Medical Residents, Clinical Fellows, or Postgraduate trainees in the Faculty of Medicine.
Disclose or Disclosure is where an individual shares information with UBC about an incident or incidents in which the individual was subject to Sexual Misconduct (Section 2.7 of Policy).
The decision to Disclose and the decision to Report are separate decisions. An individual may choose to Disclose Sexual Misconduct without making a Report. Consequently, Disclosure does not result in a Report being made, and does not initiate an Investigation or other action by UBC (Section 8.1 of Policy).
UBC will make appropriate support services and assistance available to Members of the UBC Community on the basis of a Disclosure, regardless of whether they decide to make a Report or whether UBC has the Jurisdiction to Investigate (Section 8.2 of Policy).
Report or Reporting is providing a statement of allegations to the Director of Investigations about an incident or incidents of Sexual Misconduct according to Section 2.8 of the Policy.