Policy Definition of Stalking

The University uses the following definition for stalking under the Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence:

Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or to experience substantial emotional distress.

Course of conduct means two or more acts, including but not limited to acts in which a person directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person, or interferes with another person’s property. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish.

Stalking includes “cyber-stalking,” a particular form of stalking in which a person uses electronic media, such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact.

Criminal Definition of Stalking

Below is the criminal code definition for different sexual offenses that would also be addressed by university policy. Related crimes can be found in Chapter 4: Crimes against the Person of the Code of Virginia.

The definition from the University policy may differ from the one used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to define stalking for the criminal justice system. In some cases, the University’s definitions include behaviors that, while not codified as criminal under the Virginia statutes, still violate the Standards of Conduct to which all University students are held. Conduct may also be both punishable under the criminal statutes and University policy. These processes are separate and distinct from one another, but can run concurrently.

§ 18.2-60.3. Stalking

Department of Justice Definition of Stalking   

Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
Stalking can include:

Obtaining personal information about the victim by accessing public records, using internet search services, hiring private investigators, going through the victim's garbage, following the victim, contacting victim's friends, family work, or neighbors, etc.

For more information about Stalking, see the following resources:

http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center/stalking-information
http://www.justice.gov/ovw/stalking
http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/victims/documents/stalking.pdf