Professional Policies & Faculty Responsibilities — Consensual Relationships in the Academic Context

Consensual Relationships between Students and Faculty

The University's Policy on Consensual Relationships Involving Students (Operations Manual, II-5) prohibits a faculty member or teaching assistant from having a sexual relationship (consensual or not) with a student enrolled in a course he or she is teaching. It also prohibits a faculty member from having a sexual relationship with a student whose academic work he or she is supervising, including work as a teaching or research assistant.

Even outside the instructional and supervisory context, the policy discourages such relationships because they easily lead to violations of the ethical obligations of teachers to student and pose grave danger of exploitation. To prevent a conflict of interest, the faculty member or teaching assistant must remove him or herself from any decisions that affect a student with whom he or she has or has had a sexual relationship. The Conflict of Interest in Employment Policy may apply (see Operations Manual, III-8).

Consensual Relationships between Departmental Faculty

When two faculty members within a department are partners in a consensual relationship, conflict of interest issues arise. Neither partner in such a relationship may participate in departmental decisions affecting the other. The faculty members are responsible for informing the DEO that a conflict of interest exists. The College recommends that the DEO notify all faculty and graduate students in the department (it is not necessary to name the individuals) and ask that any concerns about possible conflict of interest be brought to the DEO.