a. In General - There are special risks in any sexual or romantic
relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions, and
parties in such a relationship assume those risks. In the University
context, such positions include (but are not limited to) teacher and
student, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty,
mentor and trainee, adviser and advisee, teaching assistant and student,
coach and athlete, and the individuals who supervise the day-to-day student
living environment and student residents. Because of the potential for
conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, and bias, such relationships
may undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and
evaluation provided, and the trust inherent particularly in the teacher-student
context. They may, moreover, be less consensual than the individual whose
position confers power believes. The relationship is likely to be perceived
in different ways by each of the parties to it, especially in retrospect.
Moreover, such relationships may harm or injure others in the academic or
work environment. Relationships in which one party is in a position to
review the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds
for complaint by third parties when that relationship gives undue access
or advantage, restricts opportunities, or creates a perception of these
problems. 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 involvement, this past consent does not remove
grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.
Where such a relationship exists, the person in the position of greater power
will bear the primary burden of accountability, and must ensure that he
or she -- and this is particularly important for teachers -- does not exercise
any supervisory or evaluative function over the other person in the relationship.
Where such recusal is required, the recusing party must also notify his
or her supervisor, department chair or dean, so that such chair, dean or
supervisor can exercise his or her responsibility to evaluate the adequacy
of the alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangements to be put in
place. To reiterate, the responsibility for recusal and notification rests
with the person in the position of greater power. Failure to comply with
these recusal and notification requirements is a violation of this policy,
and therefore grounds for discipline.
In those extraordinarily rare situations where it is programmatically
infeasible to provide alternative supervision or evaluation, the cognizant
Dean or Director must approve all evaluative and compensation actions.
b. With Students - At a university, the role of the teacher is
multifaceted, including serving as intellectual guide, counselor, mentor
and advisor; the teachers influence and authority extend far beyond
the classroom. Consequently and as a general proposition, the University
believes that a sexual or romantic relationship between a teacher and
a student, even where consensual and whether or not the student would
otherwise be subject to supervision or evaluation by the teacher, is
inconsistent with the proper role of the teacher, and should be avoided.
The University therefore very strongly discourages such relationships.