Carleton Policies Against Sexual Misconduct

Read the Policies against Sexual Misconduct in the Campus Handbook.

The full policies are located here. The examples below are intended to provide context and illustrations for better understanding of the policies.


These examples are meant to help illustrate some of the relevant concepts and definitions in our Policies Against Sexual Misconduct. Each situation is unique. If you are seeking to define your own experience, or discuss whether filing a Complaint is the right decision for you, contact any of the members of the Sexual Misconduct Support Team. The Confidential Resources (Student Health and Counseling counselors, and the Chaplain) may be particularly helpful to you at this time.

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault at Carleton is most frequently perpetrated by someone known to the victim and often occurs in the context of one or both persons being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drinking and doing drugs is a significant risk factor for sexual victimization. However, the use of drugs or alcohol does not make the victim responsible for the ways in which he/she was hurt, nor does the use of drugs or alcohol serve as a credible excuse for someone accused of wrongdoing. Taking advantage of an inebriated friend or acquaintance is wrong, is an act of violence, and violates Carleton policy and Minnesota statutes.

Sexual assault can take subtle forms. If a person uses authority, age, size, or status to manipulate another into having sexual contact, sexual assault has occurred. The use of verbal or other threats, either real or implied, to coerce sexual activity is sexual assault. Failure to stop sexual activity when someone asks for the behavior to stop is sexual assault. The common dynamic of all these behaviors is the abuse of power by one to undermine the control and autonomy of another. All of these violate Carleton policy.


"I had quite a bit to drink at a party and came back to my room to sleep. Sometime later, another student who had earlier told me I'd had too much to drink came into my room and, while I was passed out, initiated sexual intercourse with me."

This is an example of "incapacitated sex", which is prohibited by our Policies. The student initiating sex "knew or should have known" that the receiving student was "under the influence of alcohol or drugs such that he/she could not give meaningful consent".


"After a SUMO movie and a walk up to the Hill, we walked back to my dorm. I kissed him goodnight and he asked to come in. I told him he could for a little while. We sat down on my bed and started kissing. Then he pressed me down and pushed up my skirt. I told him to stop, but he kept touching me. All the while he said, "I won't do anything you don't want. Relax--you'll enjoy this." When my roommate opened the door, he finally stopped."

In this example, the student speaking clearly indicated a desire that the sexual touching stop. Though verbal refusal is not essential for an incident to be classified as sexual assault, it makes it clear that consent was not present.

"He was a friend of mine who graduated two years ago. I invited him to sleep on my floor when he came to visit, but somehow he ended up in bed with me and forced me to have sex. Since then I've felt hopeless and depressed. I don't have fun with friends anymore--I can't even get out of bed. I haven't thought about my classes in weeks--what will I tell my parents?"

Complaints of sexual misconduct can be filed even if the individual accused is not (or is no longer) a Carleton student. As long as the College has the power to take some action--in this case, perhaps prohibiting from campus--a complaint may be filed.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, deliberate or careless use of offensive or demeaning terms that have sexual connotations or are gender-based, repeated requests for sexual favors or a romantic relationship, repeated and unwelcome letters, phone calls, or emails of a sexual or romantic nature, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal, electronic, or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can have devastating consequences for the affected student, impairing her/his ability to function socially, academically, and personally. Sexual harassment thus compromises the educational environment for students targeted by these behaviors.


“I tried to get into a class three times but was always put on the waiting list. When I told the professor that I had to take the class in order to graduate, he told me he could make an exception to the class size limit if I went out for a drink with him. I really need to take this class, but now the professor scares me. I don’t know what to do.”

This is an example of “unwelcome sexual advances” when “submission to or rejection of that conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment or education.” If you are would like to report or file a complaint regarding an incident of sexual misconduct that involves faculty or staff, contact the Sexual Misconduct Investigator, Mary Dunnewold. You may also contact your Class Deans for support.


“Another student followed me around campus for weeks. Some of my friends said he pressed them for details about my schedule. He called me at two in the morning several nights in a row and wrote me notes commenting on how attractive he found me. Once, on the Goodhue bridge, he blocked my way and I could not get by him until someone else came along. Despite my refusals to join him for dinner and my repeated pleadings for him to leave me alone, he continues to pursue me.”

These “persistent attempts” to contact and follow another student may constitute stalking under our Policies Against Sexual Harassment. If someone is persistently making you uncomfortable, seek support. You may contact anyone on the Sexual Misconduct Support Team, or you may choose to talk with your RA or Area Director if this other individual lives in your same dorm or house. These people can talk with you about the options for intervening in this pattern of troubling behavior. If the behavior continues, you may wish to file a complaint of sexual misconduct.


One of the women on the first floor of my dorm pasted provocative pictures of naked man and women all over her door. Her room is next to mine—I can’t just avoid her door or pretend the pictures don’t bother me. She teases me because I am obviously uncomfortable with this. It makes me really angry.”

The pictures posted on this dorm door appear to be “creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive” environment for the student speaking. You may wish to talk with your RA or Area Director about concerns similar to this—they can facilitate solutions within the residential community. You may also consult with any member of the Sexual Misconduct Support Team.


One of my profs commented on my involvement with sexual assault issues on campus. He asked me if my interests inhibited my sexual experiences with men. He asked me if I was lonely at night. This makes me feel uncomfortable. I no longer meet with him in his office.”

This seems to be an example of conduct or communication that “has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment or education, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment or educational environment.” If you are would like to report or file a complaint regarding an incident of sexual misconduct that involves faculty or staff, contact the Sexual Misconduct Investigator, Mary Dunnewold. You may also contact your Class Deans for support.


“During the course of our discussion, my work supervisor shut her office door. She sat down next to me and began to discuss her fantasies about sex. I was uncomfortable and tried to change the subject. She laughed and told me she wasn’t sure I had the right attitude for the job. I need this job, but now I don’t know what to do.”

If you are would like to report or file a complaint regarding an incident of sexual misconduct that involves faculty or staff, contact the Sexual Misconduct Investigator, Mary Dunnewold. You may also contact your Class Deans for support.


Sexually Inappropriate Conduct

Sexually inappropriate conduct includes unwelcome sexual conduct that may not meet the definition of sexual harassment. Examples of conduct that may constitute sexually inappropriate conduct include, but are not limited to, crude, obscene, or sexually offensive gestures or unwelcome sexual comments.


“The guy down the hall wears a tiny towel around his waist after showering and it seems to conveniently fall off as he passes me on his way back to his room.”

“My roommate sent an extremely crude email with an animated pornographic attachment. Not only did I receive it, but all my friends did too. I’m afraid they think I’m in on this, but I find it disgusting.”

“The project in class required a very precise connection between a metal screw and the conductivity surface. No matter how hard I tried, my connection was not quite right, despite following the rigid protocol of 3 ½ turns with a screwdriver. With a smirk, the professor suggestively stated that I undoubtedly ‘screwed quite differently’ than the other students in the course.”