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Consensual Sexual Relationships

A sexual relationship between two people who both genuinely desire, and voluntarily enter into and continue, the relationship. A consensual romantic or sexual relationship between a faculty member and a student, or between a supervisor and a subordinate employee, can have the effect of undermining the atmosphere of trust and professional responsibility, and can create both an appearance of impropriety and an actual conflict of interest. Faculty members are not permitted to have a consensual sexual relationship with students who are enrolled in their courses, who are majors or graduate students in their departments, or over whom they either currently exercise, or could reasonably be expected to exercise within the foreseeable future, any type of supervision or academic/professional judgment. Likewise, department managers and supervisors should not have a consensual sexual relationship with students or employees who are in their line of supervision or authority.

Faculty members and employees who enter into a sexual relationship with a student or subordinate employee must realize that if a charge of sexual harassment is subsequently filed, it will be exceedingly difficult to prove immunity on grounds of mutual consent. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor, make a claim that the student voluntarily consented suspect; therefore, this type of relationship may create the presumption of sexual harassment due to the unfair exploitation of the power inherent in the position of the professor. Employees are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual conflicts of interest, favoritism, or bias.

Employees who, despite this Policy, are in a sexual relationship with persons over whom they have, or are reasonably anticipated to have, authority, control, or supervisory responsibility are required to immediately report the relationship to their respective supervisor, the Office of Human Resources, and/or the Title IX Coordinator. Complaints regarding consensual relationships by non-participating persons will be treated as third-party sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints.