Policies and Definitions

Know the Policies

Merrimack College has thorough policies on sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking, which can be found in the Student Handbook.

The Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy can also be found here: Merrimack College Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy.

We’ve Got Your Back

  • Any sexual penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object or sexual intercourse by a person upon another person without effective consent, by force or by threat of bodily injury. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger and oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact.
Sexual Assault 
  • Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object by a person upon another person without effective consent. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other bodily orifice of another or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner. 
  • Any disrobing of another or exposure to another by a person without effective consent.
Title IX Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual harassment is any unwelcomed verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offense that it effectively denies an individual equal access to the College’s education program or activity.
  • A form of sexual harassment exists when submission to or rejection of unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature results in adverse educational or employment action, or the threat of such adverse action, or when submission is made a condition of educational or employment advancement.
Intimate Partner Violence
  • Intimate partner violence incorporates dating violence, domestic violence, or relationship violence, and includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is or has been involved in a sexual or dating relationship with that person. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate partner violence can encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to threats, assault, property damage, violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientation and does not discriminate by racial, social, or economic background.
  • The College will not tolerate intimate partner violence of any form. The College also recognizes that certain forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, harm to others, emotional and psychological abuse, harassing conduct, and retaliation may all be forms of intimate partner violence when committed by a person who is or has been involved in a sexual, dating, or other similar relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Reporting Party. In such situations, all potential charges may be included.

In Massachusetts, domestic violence is defined as abuse, assault, or threats against one or more of the following:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • A dating partner or a former dating partner
  • Someone you live with or have lived with
  • A relative by blood or marriage
  • The parent of your child
  • A person with whom you have or have had a substantial relationship

Abuse is defined by actual or attempted physical abuse, psychological harm, placing another in fear of serious physical harm, causing another to engage in sexual relations by force, and/or threat of force or duress. Confidential counseling, support and referral services are available through the Hamel Health and Counseling Center. Students can also seek information and help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or www.thehotline.org.

  • Stalking is defined as any behavior or pattern of behavior occurring on more than one occasion that instills fear in one or more other people and/or threatens their safety, mental or physical health. Such behaviors or activities may include, but are not limited to, nonconsensual communication (face to face, telephone, e-mail, texting, and social media), threatening or obscene gestures, surveillance, pursuit, following, visiting outside an individual’s classroom or residence, sending gifts or making threats.
Effective Consent

Effective consent is defined as informed, freely and actively given mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in each form of sexual activity. Consent is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words or actions of the parties to have demonstrated agreement between them to participate in the sexual activity. In the absence of mutually understandable words or actions, neither party should assume that it is permissible to engage in the sexual activity. Consent to some form(s) of sexual activity does not necessarily mean consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time at which point all sexual activity for which consent has been withdrawn must cease.

Consent can NEVER be given by the following:

  • Minors (in Massachusetts, those not yet sixteen (16) years of age);
  • Mentally disabled persons;
  • Individuals who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary);
  • Individuals who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless;
  • Individuals who are forced, coerced, intimidated or threatened.