Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of sexual misconduct?
  • Sexual Misconduct is a term used by this policy to more conveniently refer to any form of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking .  Sexual misconduct may occur between members of the same or opposite sex.


  • Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination.  Sexual harassment may be verbal, written, visual or physical.  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s education, is used as the basis for education decisions affecting such individual, or where such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.


Merely by way of illustration, sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following kinds of behavior:  name-calling that demeans on the basis of gender, exposing another to unwanted insulting, degrading, or oppressive sexual remarks, jokes, innuendos or vulgar pictures; sexually oriented teasing or pranks; unwelcome sexually-charged comments or conduct, repeatedly subjecting a person to unwelcome sexual attention or advances.  The fact that a person was personally offended by a statement or incident does not alone constitute sexual harassment.  Instead, the determination is based on a “reasonable person” standard and takes into account the totality of the circumstances.  The College considers the context of a communication, the relationship of the individuals involved, whether an incident was an isolated occurrence or part of a broader pattern of conduct, the seriousness of the incident and the intent of the individual engaged in the allegedly offensive conduct.  In all instances, a key factor is whether the behavior occurred because of one’s gender.


The College also prohibits “quid pro quo” (or “this for that”) harassment.  This type of harassment occurs when a person in a position of authority links the receipt of some benefit (such as a passing grade) to another’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances or sexual activity.  It can be expressly stated, but it also can be implied by words or actions.  No person should believe that any other person – no matter their title or position- has the right to pressure another person for sexual activity. 


Paul Smith’s College reserves the right to discipline conduct that is inconsistent with community standards (as reflected in the Student Code of Conduct and this policy) even if it does not rise to the level of a hostile environment as defined by applicable law. 


  • Sexual Exploitation refers to situations in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another.  Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to; sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person undressing, using the bathroom, or engaged in sexual acts without the consent of the other person observed); taking pictures or video or audio recording another in a sexual act, or in any other private activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent); prostitution and/or solicitation; engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) or other sexual transmitted disease (STD) and without informing the other person of the infection; administering alcohol or drugs to another person without his or her knowledge or consent.


  • Sexual Assault is defined by the College as including acts of non-consensual sexual contact and non-consensual sexual intercourse.


    • Rape – the 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.

    Incest — non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

    • Statutory Rape – non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent (The age of consent in New York State is 17)
    • Non-consensual Sexual Contact/Fondling – intentional sexual touching, however slight, of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the other individual, including instances where the other individual is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
What does sexual assault have to do with sexual harassment?

Sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment.

Can I be sexually assaulted by my boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, friend or acquaintance?

Yes. The definition is the same regardless of relationship – if there was no affirmative consent, there is sexual assault.

What if I consent to some sexual activity, but then say no to other sexual activity; can there still be sexual assault?

Yes. One must look at the circumstances to determine whether there was consent with respect to each sexual act. If there is consent to one sexual act, but not for another, the act for which there is no evidence of consent is sexual assault.

In order to establish that I have not consented to specific sexual activity, am I required to physically resist the sexual activity?

No. Physical resistance is not required. There is no consent if a reasonable person would believe that there was no mutually understood, freely given agreement to the sexual activity.  Some individuals who are assaulted freeze up or describe feeling a mind from body detachment. During this time, individuals are unable to speak, move, or respond to show resistance.


I’m feeling so many different emotions. Is this normal?

Reactions to a traumatic experience such as sexual assault vary from person-to-person. Below are some examples of physical and emotional feelings that may occur:


  • Aches and pains: headaches, backaches, stomach aches.
  • Sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Easily startled by noises or unexpected touch.
  • More susceptible to colds and illness.

Emotional Reactions:

  • Shock
  • Disbeleif
  • Embarassment
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Self Blame
  • Concern for the assailant
  • Lack of concentration, resulting in academic difficulties.
What can I do if I or someone I know was sexually assaulted?

You have a right to have support from the campus community.  You may report confidentially, anonymously, formally, or choose not to report at all. Despite the choice in relation to reporting, there are supports on campus and off-campus for physical, mental, and emotional support, such as health care professionals & outlets, counseling, and advocacy. If you have more questions, please contact your Title IX Coordinator at (518) 327-6451 or


Does it matter when I report the sexual assault?

You can always report a sexual assault to the police, Campus Safety, and/or Title IX Coordinator regardless of when it occurred. However, it may be helpful for you to know that the sooner you file a report after the crime, the better the chances that helpful evidence can be collected to support a criminal case, that you will be able to convey a clear account of what happened, and that the police and College will be able to identify and speak with witnesses. If you wish to report the assault to the police, it is strongly recommended that you do so as soon as possible after the assault. Also, if you choose to report the incident to Campus Safety or the Title IX Coordinator for campus judicial charges you may do so at any time and your options will be reviewed with you.

What if I am sexually assaulted in another country on a College-sponsored study abroad program?

The same resources and reporting options that are available to students and employees on campus are available to individuals sexually assaulted in another country on a College-sponsored study abroad program. However, the laws in each country may vary on what constitutes a sexual assault and how such matters are handled by police and/or courts in comparison to the United States.