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Sexual Misconduct Policy

This page contains information on the Sexual Misconduct Policy in UCD. Here you will find who the policy applies to, a summary of the policy and associated processes as well definitions and outlines of responsibilities across a number of roles

Page updated 16 June 2022

Policy summary

This section contains a brief summary of a UCD policy, however, in all cases the Policy remains the definitive source of information on the topic. Read the Sexual Misconduct policy now.

This policy applies to members of the UCD community (and others as defined in the policy) which includes:

  • All UCD employees, whether part time or full time, permanent or temporary; 
  • All students of UCD; 
  • Those engaged in Club activity such as graduates (player, committee member, coach/manager), those volunteering to coach/lead/manage, those being employed by the club to coach/ lead/ manage; 
  • Non-University employees who use University funds, facilities or other resources, including the University’s name and reputation, to carry out teaching and/or research, and/or participate in UCD-administered research, including retired employees, visiting faculty and researchers; consultants, contractors, affiliated hospital staff, industrial personnel and research fellows, regardless of obligations to other companies or institutions; and 
  • All persons conducting teaching and/or research at or under the auspices of UCD including at any of UCD’s overseas campus, including visiting faculty and researchers; consultants; contractors, Emeritus or adjunct appointments; and research fellows.

In this Policy, “others” shall be taken to include, but is not limited to:

  • contractors, and sub-contractors;
  • alumni and past employees;
  • vendors;
  • those who engage and/or who interact with the University and/or its associated bodies;
  • those who provide services to the University;
  • those who avail of services and/or are visitors of and to the University or any of its associated bodies;
  • All employees of UCD’s wholly owned subsidiary companies.

There will be no time limit regarding receipt of complaints by the University. 

Sexual Misconduct covers a broad range of inappropriate and unwanted behaviours of a sexual nature including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender and it can occur between people of the same or different genders. It is often gender targeted and perpetrated to demean, diminish and intimidate. Sexual misconduct may occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved, or formerly involved, in an intimate or sexual relationship.

Sexual Harassment is defined under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015. It includes any act of physical intimacy, request for sexual favours, other act or conduct including spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, picture or other material that is unwelcome and could reasonably be regarded as sexually offensive, humiliating or intimidating.

The following are examples of behaviours associated with sexual harassment: (non-exhaustive list)

Physical contact such as unnecessary touching, patting or pinching or brushing against another body, assault, coercive sexual intercourse or rape.

  • Sexual advances, propositions or pressure for sexual activity, continued suggestions for social activity after it has been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome, unwanted or offensive flirtations, suggestive remarks, innuendos or lewd comments
  • The display of pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures, objects, written materials including posters, emails, text-messages, social media messaging or faxes
  • Leering, whistling or making sexually suggestive gestures
  • Conduct that denigrates or ridicules or is intimidatory or physically abusive of a person because of their sex

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2015 do not prohibit all relations of a sexual or social nature at work.  To constitute harassment/sexual harassment the behaviour complained of must firstly be unwelcome.  It is up to each employee/student/other (e.g. visitor or sub-contractor) to decide

  •     (a) what behaviour is unwelcome, irrespective of the attitude of others to the matter and 
  •     (b) from whom such behaviour is welcome or unwelcome, irrespective of the attitudes of others to the matter

The fact that an individual has previously agreed to the behaviour does not stop them from deciding that it has become unwelcome.  It is the unwanted nature of the conduct which distinguishes harassment/sexual harassment from behaviour which is welcome and mutual.

In addition, to constitute harassment/sexual harassment under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2015, the behaviour must have the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.

Consent in the context of sexual misconduct is defined as the freely given verbal or non-verbal communication of a feeling of willingness to engage in sexual activity. A person consents to a sexual act if they freely and voluntarily agree to engage in that act. There is no consent if the victim is asleep or unconscious; force or the threat of force is used; they cannot consent because of the effect of alcohol/other drug; they cannot communicate consent because of a physical and mental disability; they are mistaken about the act or about the identity of the other person; the only indication of consent came from a third person, or if they are being unlawfully detained at the time of the act. This is not an exhaustive list and are illustrative only.

Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and just because someone has previously given consent, does not preclude that person from withdrawing consent.

Non-consensual sexual activity may amount to a prosecutable criminal offence.

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017

The following is the excerpt from the Act which defines Consent. 

"The Act of 1990 is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 9:

“9. (1) A person consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act.

(2) A person does not consent to a sexual act if—

(a) he or she permits the act to take place or submits to it because of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of the threat of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of a well-founded fear that force may be applied to him or her or to some other person,

(b) he or she is asleep or unconscious,

(c) he or she is incapable of consenting because of the effect of alcohol or some other drug,

(d) he or she is suffering from a physical disability which prevents him or her from communicating whether he or she agrees to the act,

(e) he or she is mistaken as to the nature and purpose of the act,

(f) he or she is mistaken as to the identity of any other person involved in the act,

(g) he or she is being unlawfully detained at the time at which the act takes place,

(h) the only expression or indication of consent or agreement to the act comes from somebody other than the person himself or herself.

(3) This section does not limit the circumstances in which it may be established that a person did not consent to a sexual act.

(4) Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn at any time before the act begins, or in the case of a continuing act, while the act is taking place.

(5) Any failure or omission on the part of a person to offer resistance to an act does not of itself constitute consent to that act.

(6) In this section—

‘sexual act’ means—

(a) an act consisting of—

(i) sexual intercourse, or

(ii) buggery,

(b) an act described in section 3(1) or 4(1) of this Act, or

(c) an act which if done without consent would constitute a sexual assault;

‘sexual intercourse’ shall be construed in accordance with section 1(2) of the Principal Act.”.

Key Principles

The key principles of the policy are to: 

  • Ensure that the University has proactive measures in place to promote a positive culture of dignity and respect and to create a working and learning environment which makes clear the expectations of members of our community with regard to respecting each other and that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Create a safe and respectful environment where people feel encouraged to disclose the issues they are experiencing and have trust and confidence in the process that the issues will be dealt with appropriately and fairly.
  • Ensure that there is a range of trained supports available, both voluntary and full-time dedicated roles, whom you can approach and seek support and guidance from and that these are widely communicated.
  • Promote understanding of our definitions of sexual misconduct and consent.
  • Ensure that there are both informal and formal options available for resolution acknowledging that informal options need to be considered carefully.
  • Enhance transparency by having external expert involvement at key stages of the dignity and respect process including external membership on the screening panel, the appointment of external investigators and external membership on the EDI Dignity and Respect Oversight Sub-Group.   
  • Expectation that you will co-operate with all efforts in order to resolve complaints under the policy and without undue delay as appropriate.
  • Expectation that you will respect the confidentiality of the process.  However, you are strongly encouraged to seek support from the support services available, your family and other personal supports which will involve you sharing information confidentially with them.  
  • Have an effective and transparent monitoring and analysis process of dignity and respect related data, and the reporting of this data to relevant internal and external bodies on a defined periodic basis in order to demonstrate accountability.

Changes to the policy over time

Please note that this Policy should be reviewed on a regular basis in line with changes in the law, relevant case-law, feedback from people’s experience of the policy or other developments.

Contact UCD Dignity & Respect

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: 01 716 7716 | E: respect@ucd.ie | Location Map