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Sexual Misconduct: Definitions and Frequently Asked Questions


frequently asked questions
Bystander Intervention


It is the policy of PennWest Clarion that sexual misconduct of students and employees will not be tolerated. Clarion University is committed to insuring that the learning environment for its students and the working environment for its employees are free of unlawful discrimination of any kind. The university affirms its commitment to human rights and dignity. Sexual misconduct violates basic human rights as well as state and federal laws, and is inconsistent with the principles and goals of an academic community. PennWest Clarion will make every effort to protect students, staff, and faculty from sexual misconduct. Retaliatory actions taken against persons filing sexual misconduct complaints will not be tolerated.

Sexual misconduct violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This means that a formal complaint should be filed with Clarion University Title IX Coordinator, Ms. Amy Salsgiver, 210 Carrier Administration, 814-393-2109.

Definitions of Misconduct and Consent:

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature will constitute sexual harassment when (1) Submission to such contact is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic success; or (2) Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used on the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individuals; or (3) Such conduct is sufficiently pervasive or severe to have the effect of interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or academic environment.

Sexual Assault/Violence

Sexual assault or violence occurs when there are physical sexual acts perpetrated against the will of a student or employee or when the student or employee is incapable of giving consent. Acts of rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion all constitute sexual violence. Attempting to or having sexual intercourse with another individual without that individual's consent serves as an example of sexual assault or violence.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or unjust sexual advantages of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit another person other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to: non-consensual video, photographing, or audio-taping of sexual activity ;non-consensual distribution of a video, photograph, or sound recording of sexual activity; non-consensual photographing of nudity; non-consensual distribution of a nude photograph; going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex); engaging in peeping or indecent exposure; inducing incapacitation through alcohol or drugs in order to sexually assault another person (whether or not sexual contact actually takes place); an example could include spiking someone’s drink.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a type of intimate relationship violence that is committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the survivor, by a person with whom the survivor shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the survivor as a spouse or someone similarly situated to a spouse; or by a person from whom the survivor is protected under the domestic or family violence laws.

Dating Violence

Dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence that is committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the survivor. These acts of violence may be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological.  The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship; the type of relationship; the frequency of interaction between the persons in the relationship.


Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (2) suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes but is not limited to cyber stalking, verbal contact, writing, by phone, electronic media, a third party or by other means to pursue or track another person.


Consent is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. Conduct will be considered, “without consent,” if there is no clear consent, verbal or nonverbal. Since sexual misconduct is defined as sexual activity that is undertaken without consent, each participant must obtain and give consent to each sexual act.

People with mental disabilities cannot give consent to sexual activity if they cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation in which they find themselves. The mental disability of the survivor must be known, or reasonably knowable, to the non-disabled sexual partner, in order to constitute a violation.  

Points to Remember about Consent

  • Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity;

  • At any and all times when consent is withdrawn or not verbally agreed upon, the sexual activity must stop immediately;

  • Consent to some levels of activity does not imply consent to all levels of sexual activity. Each new level of sexual activity requires consent;

  • The person(s) who initiate(s) a new level of sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent;

  • A current or previous dating or sexual relationship with the initiator (or anyone else) does not constitute consent;

  • Being intoxicated does diminish one’s responsibility to obtain or give consent;

  • Bodily movements and non-verbal responses such as moans are not consent;

  • Silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance is not consent;

  • Intentional use of alcohol and/or drugs does not imply consent to sexual activity;

  • Seductive dancing or sexy and/or revealing clothing does not imply consent to sexual activity;

  • Anyone under the age of 16 cannot give consent;

  • Use of agreed upon forms of communication such as gestures or safe words is acceptable, but must be discussed and verbally agreed upon by all parties before sexual activity occurs.


Incapacitated persons cannot give consent. One who is incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntarily or involuntarily), or who is unconscious, unaware, or otherwise helpless, is incapable of giving consent.

One must not engage in sexual activity with another whom one knows, or reasonably knows, to be incapacitated. Physically incapacitated persons are considered incapable of giving effective consent when they lack the ability to appreciate the fact that the situation is sexual, and/or cannot rationally and reasonably understand the nature of the situation.

Examples of incapacitation include:

  • unconscious;

  • sleeping;

  • frightened;

  • physically or psychologically pressured or forced;

  • intimidated;

  • threatened.

Incapacitation can also result from:

  • a psychological health condition;

  • voluntary intoxication;

  • voluntary or involuntary use of any drug, intoxicant or controlled substance.

Frequently Asked Questions

In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1. If you are on campus and do not have access to a phone there are emergency phones located throughout campus. Please familiarize yourself with their location:

1. If I have been sexually assaulted, what are my options?

Report to the University Police Office – 814-393-2111 - Inasmuch as all allegations of sexual assault and rape have the potential to involve criminal conduct, the university strongly encourages all complainants to first report directly to University Police. If the assault occurred off campus, call 911 and the appropriate police agency will respond. Community police officers will help. PASSAGES (814-226-RAPE, hot line 9-1-1) also provides trained support staff to assist you.

  • Report to the Campus Police: 814-393-2111 (Clarion Campus)
  • Report to the Oil City Police Department: 814-678-3080 (Venango College)
  • Report to Ms. Amy Salsgiver, Title IX Coordinator: 814-393-2109/210 Carrier Administration 
  • Report to Mr. Matthew Shaffer, Director of Student Engagement and Development, at 814-393-1982
  • Do not bathe or douche - Bathing or douching might be the first thing you want to do-but don't. You might literally be washing away valuable evidence.
  • Get medical attention immediately - You could be injured-externally and internally. You could become pregnant, or you could get a sexually transmitted disease. A medical examination could also provide important evidence of rape for prosecution.
  • Wait until you have had a medical examination. Save your clothing - It's all right to change clothes, but save what you were wearing. Your clothing could be used as evidence for prosecution. Place all items in a paper bag (DO NOT utilize plastic bag as this can destroy evidence.)

2. Are there any important timelines for submitting evidence?

Unless there are extenuating circumstances; an investigation will begin at the time the incident is reported. Time is a factor in collecting evidence. Post-assault forensic evidence, commonly referred to as a "rape kit", is best collected as soon as possible in relation to the time of the assault. Complainants should go to Clarion Hospital or Venango Hospital as soon as possible after the incident. Please see #3 should you wish someone to accompany you to the hospital. Please note that University Police Officers may also transport or accompany you to the hospital.

3. I do not want to go to the hospital or police alone but I am not ready to tell my friends. Can someone come with me?

Yes, the university will refer you to Clarion or Venango Counseling Services, SAFE or PASSAGES to assist you. A University advocate may also accompany you to the hospital.


4. If I have been sexually assaulted, what can I expect at the hospital?

Examination on campus is NOT provided. Please go to the Clarion Hospital as soon as possible after the incident so that a Post-assault forensic evidence test, or rape kit, can be done. It is important to be examined even if you do not appear to have any physical injuries. Please see #3 should you wish someone to accompany you to the hospital. Please note that University Police Officers may also transport or accompany you to the hospital.

5. Where can I get an STI (sexually transmitted infection), pregnancy, and/or HIV/AIDS test?

  • The Center for Wellness- Health Services 814-393-2121
  • Adagio Health Clarion 814-226-7500 and Venango 814-676-1811.

6. Criminal vs. Campus Charges

There are many differences between campus and criminal charges. Campus charges are brought before the University Conduct Board, and the possible outcomes are university sanctions including campus restrictions and the possible expulsion from the university. The process follows recommendations for a timely hearing and is generally conducted prior to that of a criminal hearing.  All cases involving sexual misconduct are heard by a University Conduct Board. Criminal charges are filed by a commissioned Police Officer and brought through the Criminal Justice System. The cases are argued and defended by licensed attorneys. The penalties are greater, with fines and the possibility of imprisonment if found guilty. Both, or either, option is available to the complainant.

7. Where can I fill out an incident report form?

Clarion University (CU) strongly encourages prompt reporting of sexual offenses to the police. However, complainants of sexual misconduct have the right to decide whether to file a criminal report with the police, a report with Judicial and Mediation Services, a complaint with the Office of Social Equity, an informal report, an anonymous report, or no report at all. An incident report form can be found at or by contacting Amy Salsgiver, Director of Social Equity and Title IX Coordinator, at 814-393-2109, Mr. Matthew Shaffer of Judicial Affairs at 814-393-1982 or by contacting Public Safety at 814-393-2111.

8. If I report to the University, will my name stay confidential?

Clarion University makes every effort to ensure confidentiality but it cannot be guaranteed. CU takes your right to privacy seriously however the safety of all students, staff and faculty is of our utmost concern and, as such, we are not always able to grant full confidentially in all cases of sexual misconduct. We will do our best to protect your privacy while upholding the University's legal obligations.

  • Will the responding party know my identity?
  • Yes, if CU determines there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of policy has occurred and investigates the matter. The responding party has the right to know the identity of the reporting party.
  • Do I have to name the responding party?
  • Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the responding party. You may report the incident without the identity of the responding party, but doing so may limit the actions taken by CU. If you do not know the identity of the respondent please provide as much information as possible to aid in the investigation.

9. Do I have to press criminal charges if I report to the university?

No. However, the complainant is strongly encouraged to report the incident to a University Police Officer. If there is a report of an act of alleged sexual misconduct to a conduct officer of the university or there is evidence that a felony has occurred, local police will be notified. This does not mean charges will be automatically filed or that the complainant must speak to the police, but the university is legally required to notify law enforcement.

 The University Conduct Board will conduct a hearing for charges of sexual misconduct under the Rights, Regulations, and Procedures. Both the complainant and the accused student(s) will be provided written notice of the hearing, written notice of charges, the ability to have an advocate, the ability to have witnesses, and the ability to discuss the incident and provide other relevant evidence. Both parties have the right to an appeal process.

10. If the assault takes place off-campus, to whom and where do I report the incident to?

You can contact University Police and they will refer you to the Clarion Borough Police or Pennsylvania State Police as appropriate. A report of the incident must be reported to Ms. Amy Salsgiver, Title IX Coordinator.

11. What if I do not want to tell anyone that I was sexually assaulted?

Clarion University strongly recommends a complainant report an incident. This allows CU to assist the complainant and to hold someone accountable for the incident. However, if you do not wish to report the University asks that you access assistance through on and off campus confidential resources such as Counseling Services or PASSAGES. You may also contact RAINN (Rape, Incest & Abuse National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE.

12. What if I am accused of sexual misconduct? Where can I go to get help?

Do not contact the reporting party. If you are accused of Sexual Misconduct, you are strongly urged to retain private legal counsel. You have a right to have an advocate assist you through the process and be present during a Student Conduct Hearing, if one should occur. You may also speak confidentially with a counselor, on or off campus, or seek other community assistance. Faculty and staff may be accompanied by any person of their choosing from within the university community during the informal process or meetings for the purpose of consultation. If either party is covered under a collective bargaining agreement with the university, they will be informed of their right to union representation.

13. Are the University Resources free?

University Resources such as the Office of Judicial and Mediation Services, Counseling Services, and Police are all free resources for students. Faculty and staff can contact Human Resources for information on the State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP).

14. What if I live in the same residence hall or are in the same class as the accused student?

The University will make every reasonable effort to relocate the complainant to a safe location or residence. Room changes under these circumstances are regarded as an emergency and there are no fees associated with the relocation. Should the complainant request the respondent be the one to move to another residence hall, that request will be evaluated by the Title IX Coordinator, or designee, to determine if it can be honored.

15. How can I help a friend who's been sexually assaulted?

If you are a friend or family member of the complainant, the most important support you can initially offer is to listen, believe the complainant and encourage them to enlist the assistance of those available to assist them.

16. How can I avoid consent issues?

Consent is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. Conduct will be considered, "without consent," if there is no clear consent, verbal or nonverbal, is given. Since sexual misconduct is defined as sexual activity that is undertaken without consent, each participant must obtain and give consent to each sexual act. 

17. What is Incapacitation?

Incapacitated persons cannot give consent. One who is incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntarily or involuntarily), or who is unconscious, unaware, or otherwise helpless, is incapable of giving consent.

18. I'm still confused, where can I go to get further information?

  • University Police: 814-393-2111
  • Ms. Amy Salsgiver, Title IX Coordinator: 814-393-2019
  • Judicial Affairs: 814-393-1982/271 Gemmell Student Union
  • Center for Wellness- Counseling Services and Health Services- 256 Becht Hall
    • Clarion: Counseling 814-393-2255 and Health Services 814-393-2121
    • Venango: 814-676-6591 ex 1281/234 Montgomery Hall
  • PASSAGES (Prevention and Services for Sexual Assault through Guidance, Empowerment and Support) 814-226-7273/1300R East Main Street Clarion PA
  • In the event of an emergency CALL 911

Bystander Intervention

Every individual has the ability to help create a culture of civility, respect and responsibility on campus and in the Clarion community. Employees and students are encouraged to become active bystanders, those who observe a concerning situation and take steps to safely and effectively intervene. CU will offer “Step-Up Bystander Training” to aid those in becoming active bystanders.

As bystanders witness a potentially concerning situation, some options for assistance include:

  • Call the police (9-1-1 or 814-393-2111)
  • Find an University employee or Community Assistant
  • Ask a friend for assistance addressing the situation
  • Yell for help
  • Ask a friend in a potentially dangerous situation if he/she wants to leave and make sure he/she gets to safety
  • Ask the victim if he/she is okay. Provide a listening ear and walk though options.
  • Call a crisis center: PASSAGES (814-226-7273) or SAFE (800-992-3039)
  • Visit the Counseling Center
  • Contact the Title IX Coordinator (814-393-2019) or Judicial Affairs (814-393-1982)


Last Updated 8/19/22