Policy 2.19 - Consensual Relationships


The college’s educational mission is promoted by professionalism in the following relationships: student-faculty, employee-supervisor, and student- supervisor. Professionalism is fostered by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Actions of college employees that harm this atmosphere undermine professionalism and hinder fulfillment of the college’s educational mission. Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse, or appear to abuse, their power. Those who abuse, or appear to abuse, their power in such a context violate their duty to the college community.

Responsibility

Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the institution’s anti-harassment policy is followed and for maintaining an environment free of harassment.

Consensual Relationships – No college employee should have an intimate and/or amorous relationship (consensual or otherwise) with an employee that he/she supervises directly or who is under the supervisor’s chain of command. Intimate and/or amorous relationships between employees outside the supervisory relationship may lead to difficulties but are not prohibited.

Student – Specific

Faculty and/or staff members with professional or supervisory responsibility have the opportunity to exercise power over students, whether in giving them praise or criticism, evaluating them, making recommendations for their further studies, future employment, or conferring any other benefits on them. The college views intimate and/or amorous relationships between faculty and/or staff members and students in these instances as wrong when the faculty or staff member has professional or supervisory responsibility for the student. Voluntary consent by the student in such a relationship is suspect given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship. Moreover, other students, faculty and/or staff members in these instances may be affected by such unprofessional behavior because it could place the faculty and/or staff member in a position to favor or advance one student’s interest at the expense of others and implicitly makes obtaining benefits contingent on amorous or sexual favors. Therefore, the college views it as unethical if faculty or staff members engage in intimate, amorous relations with students enrolled in their classes or subject to their supervision, even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship. The college does not tolerate the involvement of faculty and/or staff members in such intimate and/or amorous relationships.

Consensual Relationships in the Instructional/Supervisory Context

No faculty or staff member should have an intimate and/or amorous relationship (consensual or otherwise) with a student who is enrolled in a course being taught by the faculty member or whose work is being supervised by the faculty or staff member.

Consensual Relationships Outside the Instructional/Supervisory Context

Intimate and/or amorous relationships between faculty and/or staff members and students occurring outside the instructional or supervisory context may lead to difficulties. Particularly when the faculty member and the 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. Furthermore, in such situations (and others that cannot be anticipated), the faculty and/or staff member may face serious conflicts of interest and should be careful to distance himself/herself from any decisions that may reward or penalize the student with whom the faculty and/or staff member currently has or had in the past an amorous relationship. The college strongly discourages these relationships.

Adopted: July 16, 1985

Revised: March 22, 2021

Reviewed: February 17, 2021