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Affirmative Consent

Affirmative Consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

  1. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.
  2. Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  3. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.
  4. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
  5. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.
  6. When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.


The health and safety of every student at the State University of New York and its State-operated and community colleges is of utmost importance. SUNY-ESF recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that violence, including, but not limited to, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. SUNY-ESF strongly encourages students to report incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to SUNY-ESF officials. A bystander acting in good faith or a reporting individual acting in good faith that disclosed any incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to SUNY-ESF officials or law enforcement will not be subject to SUNY-ESF's Code of Student Conduct action for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Bystander Intervention

A bystander's safe and positive actions to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk posed to another person. Bystander intervention includes recognizing situations of potential harm, identifying safe and effective intervention options, and taking action to intervene.

Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act is a federal statute (20 U.S.C. §1092(f)) that requires colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose statistics about crime on or near their campuses. Compliance is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Dating Violence

A violent act or acts committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of the relationship is determined by the victim's statement and investigation into a number of factors such as the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and frequency of the relationship.

Domestic Violence

Any misdemeanor or felony crime committed by the current or former spouse of an intimate partner. It can also involve a person sharing a child with the victim and a person cohabitating with or who has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner.


Adverse action against another person for reporting a violation or for participating in any way in the investigation or conduct process. Retaliation includes harassment and intimidation, including but not limited to, violence, threats of violence, property destruction, adverse educational or employment consequences, and bullying.

SaVE Act

The SaVE Act is an acronym for the Campus Sexual Violence Act provision of the 2013 reauthorized Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). The SaVE Act provision, Section 304, requires colleges and universities to report domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking beyond the crime categories the Clery Act already mandates; adopt certain student conduct procedures, such as for notifying victims of their rights; and adopt training protocols and policies to address and prevent campus sexual violence.

Sexual Assault

A physical sexual act or acts committed against another person without consent. Sexual assault is an extreme form of sexual harassment. Sexual assault includes what is commonly known as "rape" (including what is commonly called "date rape" and "acquaintance rape"), fondling, statutory rape, and incest. For statutory rape, the age of consent in New York State is 17 years old.

Sex Discrimination

Includes all forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other sexual violence by employees, students, or third parties against employees, students, or third parties. Students, employees, and third parties are prohibited from harassing others whether or not the harassment occurs on the SUNY campus or whether it occurs during work hours. All acts of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, are prohibited by Title IX and College policy.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome, gender-based verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that is sexual in nature and sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone's ability to participate in or benefit from the University's educational programs and/or activities, and is based on power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.

Sexual Violence

Refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or perpetrated where a person is incapable of giving consent. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.


Engaging in a course of conduct, directed at a specific person, which is likely to cause a reasonable person to fear of his/her safety or the safety of others or causes that person to suffer substantial emotional damage. Examples include, but are not limited to, repeatedly following such person, repeatedly committing acts that alarm, cause fear, or seriously annoy such other person and that serve no legitimate purpose, and repeatedly communicating by any means, including electronic means, with such person in a manner to intimidate, annoy, or alarm him/her.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

VAWA is a federal law initially passed in 1994 and reauthorized three times, most recently in 2013 (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355). VAWA's initial focus has expanded from domestic violence and sexual assault to also include dating violence and stalking. The Act provides funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes mandatory restitution by those convicted, and allows civil remedy in certain cases. The Act created the Office on Violence Against Women within the U.S. Department of Justice. While the title of the law refers to women victims of violence, the actual text is gender-neutral, providing coverage for male victims of domestic violence as well.


A person who suffers personal, physical, or psychological injury. The policies use "victim/survivor," and campuses are encouraged to ask each individual disclosing or reporting sexual violence how that person wants to be identified--whether as victim, survivor, witness, or another term.