I. Policy Statement
Consensual amorous, dating, or sexual relationships have inherent risks when they occur between a faculty member, supervisor, or other member of the University community and any person over whom he or she has a professional responsibility. As noted in the sex discrimination and sexual harassment policy, the risks include a student or subordinate’s feeling coerced into an unwanted relationship to ensure they receive a proper educational or employment experience; potential conflicts of interest in which the person is in a position to evaluate the work of, or make personnel or academic decisions with respect to the individual with whom he or she is romantically involved, a perception by students or employees that a fellow student or coworker who is involved in a romantic relationship with his or her supervisor or professor will receive an unfair advantage; either or both of the parties engaging in behavior destructive to the other or their academic or working environments if the relationship ends; and the potential that University/state resources are used inappropriately to further the romantic relationship.
Those with professional responsibility over others and with whom they have a romantic relationship should be aware that their involvement may subject them and the University to legal liability; consequently, such relationships are strongly discouraged. “Professional responsibility” is defined as performing functions including but not limited to teaching, counseling, grading, advising, evaluating, hiring, supervising, and making decisions or recommendations that confer benefits such as promotions, financial aid awards, or other remuneration, or that may impact upon other academic or employment opportunities.
As used in this policy, the terms “faculty” and “faculty member” mean all those who teach at the University, and include graduate students with teaching responsibilities and other instructional personnel. The terms “staff” or “staff members” mean all employees who are not faculty, and include academic and non-academic administrators as well as supervisory personnel. The term “consensual sexual relationship” may include amorous or romantic relationships, and is intended to indicate conduct that goes beyond what a person of ordinary sensibilities would believe to be a collegial or professional relationship.
A. Faculty/Student Relationships Within the Instructional Context
It is considered a serious breach of professional ethics for a member of the faculty to initiate or acquiesce in a sexual relationship with a student who is enrolled in a course being taught by the faculty member or whose academic work (including work as a teaching assistant) is being supervised by the faculty member.
Outside the Instructional Context
Sexual relationships between faculty members and students occurring outside the instructional context may lead to difficulties. Particularly when the faculty member and student are in the same academic unit or in units that are academically allied, relationships that the parties view as consensual may appear to others to be exploitative. Further, in such situations, the faculty member may face serious conflicts of interest and should be careful to distance himself or herself from any decisions that may reward or penalize the student involved. A faculty member who fails to withdraw from participation in activities or decisions that may reward or penalize a student with whom the faculty member has or has had an amorous relationship will be deemed to have violated his or her ethical obligation to the student, to other students, to colleagues, and to the University.
B. Staff/student relationships
Consensual sexual relationships between staff and students are prohibited in cases where the staff member has authority or control over the student. A staff member who fails to withdraw from participation in activities or decisions that may reward or penalize a student with whom the staff member has or has had an amorous relationship will be deemed to have violated his or her ethical obligation to the student, to other students, to colleagues, and to the University. Failure to abide by this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
C. Staff/Subordinate Relationships
Supervisors, or those with professional responsibility, over someone with whom they have or have had an amorous, consensual, romantic, or sexual relationship must notify their direct supervisor that a management-control plan needs to be implemented, or that the supervisor wishes a transfer so that he or she is no longer in a position of professional responsibility over the affected individual. To avoid the severe risks noted, supervisors in such relationships may not manage, supervise, evaluate, or make other employment decisions concerning the individual with whom they are engaged in a romantic relationship. If the relationship ends, the management-control plan must remain in effect. Failure to notify a supervisor to ensure a plan is in place may result in disciplinary action, including termination, for that supervisor.
Effective May 31, 2012