2.12 Amorous or Sexual Relationships Between Faculty or Staff and Students

2.12 Amorous or Sexual Relationships Between Faculty or Staff and Students

Board of Trustee Approval:
February 6, 2016
October 1, 2012; October 1, 2016; February 6, 2017; October 1, 2020

It is the policy of Board that faculty and staff members shall not initiate, pursue, or be involved in any amorous or sexual relationships with any student or employee whom they are in a position to evaluate or supervise by virtue of their teaching, research, or administrative responsibilities.

There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions (such as teacher and student, supervisor and employee). These relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of a violation of applicable sections of the faculty/staff policy manual, and could violate the College’s policy against Sexual Misconduct under Title IX. When a report of harassment is received, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether it shall proceed under this policy.

The College does not wish to interfere with private choices regarding personal relationships when these relationships do not interfere with the goals and policies of the College. For the personal protection of members of this community, relationships in which power differentials are inherent (faculty-student, staff-student, administrator-student, supervisor-subordinate) are generally discouraged. Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party maintains a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are unethical. Therefore, persons with direct supervisory or evaluative responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must bring those relationships to the timely attention of their supervisor, and will likely result in the necessity to remove the employee from the supervisory or evaluative responsibilities, or shift the student out of being supervised or evaluated by someone with whom they have established a consensual relationship.

Friendships or mentoring relationships between faculty or administrative staff and students are not proscribed by this Policy, nor is it the intent of this Policy that such non-amorous relationships be discouraged or limited in any way. However, faculty and staff are expected to maintain professional boundaries with students for as long as those students are enrolled in the college. (See Policy 1.2/Procedure1.2.1.)