Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

Content Warning: Please note that this policy addresses issues of sexual violence and uses descriptions and examples of this conduct which can be triggering. 

Our Commitment

Tufts is committed to providing an education and work environment that is free from sexual misconduct. The University works to prevent and address sexual misconduct through educational programs, training, and complaint resolution.

Policy Statement

Sexual Misconduct violates the dignity of individuals. It is a form of discrimination based on sex or gender that violates federal Title IX regulations and is prohibited by Tufts policy. In some cases, sexual misconduct can also be a violation of criminal law.

Sexual Misconduct includes:

  • Sex and/or Gender Discrimination
  • Sexual and/or Sex/Gender Based Harassment (including a hostile environment based on sex and/or gender)
  • Sexual Assault (including Non-Consensual Sexual Contact; Forced Sexual Contact; Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse; Forced Sexual Intercourse)
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Stalking
  • Relationship Violence (including dating and domestic violence)
  • Retaliation (for any of the above)

Tufts encourages all members of the university community to report any concerns or complaints of sexual misconduct. Managers, supervisors and other agents of the university are legally required to report promptly and appropriately all allegations of sexual misconduct that are brought to their attention.


Tufts encourages all members of the university community to report any concerns or complaints of sexual misconduct. Managers, supervisors and other agents of the university are legally required to report promptly and appropriately all allegations of sexual misconduct that are brought to their attention.


The Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process (SMAP) is the adjudication process used for complaints against Tufts students accused of sexual misconduct (including sex and gender discrimination; sexual and sex and gender based harassment; sexual assault and rape; sexual exploitation), stalking and relationship violence (including domestic and dating violence).

This adjudication process is intended to be prompt, fair and impartial and provides for disciplinary action when appropriate.

Tufts Sexual Misconduct Policy

Unlawful discrimination has no place at Tufts University. It violates the university’s core values, including its commitment to equal opportunity and inclusion, and will not be tolerated. Sex and gender based discrimination and harassment are prohibited by Tufts University policy and can constitute violations of state and/or federal law. State and federal law, including Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, prohibits sex and gender based discrimination in all of the University’s programs and activities, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and its state counterpart, M.G.L. c. 151B, prohibits sex and gender based discrimination in employment. Tufts University policy, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), as amended, and other state and federal laws prohibit sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence (including dating and domestic violence).

Defining and Recognizing Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct is a broad term used in this policy to encompass unwelcome or unwanted sex or gender based conduct and/or behavior of a sexual nature that is prohibited by Tufts University and may also be prohibited by federal and state law, including Title IX.

Defining Consent, Incapacity and Force

What is Consent?

Consent is an affirmative process. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in sexual activity to make sure that they have received consent from any other person(s) involved. If an individual initiating sexual activity is not sure if they have received consent, they have an obligation to seek additional clarification. Failure to do so could violate this policy and lead to disciplinary action. Consent cannot be based on assumptions.

Tufts policy always requires that individuals obtain consent before engaging in sexual activity.

What is Incapacity?

Incapacity is a state in which someone cannot make a decision because they lack the ability to fully understand what is happening and therefore cannot consent even if they appear to be a willing participant. An individual who is intoxicated may be able to consent to sexual activity. However, when an individual passes from intoxication to a state of incapacitation, they no longer have the ability to give consent under this policy. When incapacitated, an individual moves from being simply drunk and/or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and becomes physically and/or mentally debilitated due to their drug or alcohol consumption. Individuals can also be incapacitated because they are unconscious or asleep.

It is important to remember that an individual’s response to alcohol, medication and other substances can vary over time and circumstances. It is often difficult to tell when someone has moved from being intoxicated and become incapacitated. Therefore, engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol and/or other substances can impair an individual’s ability to assess whether someone has moved from intoxication to incapacitation. If there is any question or doubt about whether an individual has become incapacitated, it is best not to engage in sexual activity with them.

Some indications of incapacity include (but are not limited to):

  • Slurred speech or other difficulty communicating
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Vomiting
  • Glassy or bloodshot eyes;
  • Unable to keep eyes open
  • Unusual behavior
  • Unconsciousness
  • Confusion or lack of understanding
  • Disorientation to place, time and/or location

These signs alone do not necessarily indicate incapacitation. An individual can be incapacitated without displaying any of these signs. For instance, in some circumstances, a person in a blackout state can appear to be conscious when they are actually incapacitated and unable to consent.

Engaging in sexual activity with someone a person knew or should have known was incapacitated is a violation of this policy regardless of whether the person appeared to be a willing participant. It is the responsibility of the individual who wants to engage in sexual activity to make sure that the other individual(s) involved are able to consent. Failure to do so could lead to disciplinary and/or legal action.

Examples of an Absence of Consent Due to Incapacity

  1. Marin and Rory are hanging out and Marin falls asleep on the couch. Marin wakes up hours later and finds Rory having sex with him.
  2. Wynne and Aja are drinking together as they have for the past few weekends. Wynne sees that Aja is intoxicated. Wynne knows that this is more alcohol than Aja has consumed in the past. Aja is having difficulty walking, is slurring and has vomited. Wynne then begins to engage in sexual activity with Aja.
  3. Carl is having a medical procedure that requires sedation. A student provider working on his case likes Carl and asks him out, seeking to engage in sexual activity as Carl is coming out of sedation.

What is Force?

The use of force to cause someone to engage in sexual activity is by definition, non-consensual contact. Force is not limited to physical violence, but also includes threats, intimidation, abuse of power, coercion, duress or any combination of these behaviors. The use of force is never acceptable in any circumstance and could also violate other university codes of conduct. The presence of force negates any indications of consent and is automatically or per se sexual misconduct.