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3.1.44 Consensual Relations in the Instructional Context and Outside of the Instructional Context

Illinois State University employees are expected to be aware of their responsibility to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias in their relationships with other members of the University community.  

This policy is applicable to all members of the university community who are not already covered by the Faculty Code of Ethics or by the Code of Conduct for Faculty Associates.  Those covered by those documents should refer to that document for their related ethical obligations. In addition, this conflict of interest policy is distinct from the Family Relationships policy.

University staff members have an ethical obligation to refrain from establishing and/or maintaining personal, consensual relationships that constitute conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest for purposes of this policy is defined as a power differential existing in a relationship such that an individual evaluates or supervises another individual with whom he or she has an amorous or sexual relationship.


If a University employee enters into, or already is involved in, a relationship that constitutes a conflict of interest, the employee must take steps to eliminate the conflict.  Where a conflict of interest exists, or may exist, within the context of a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship, the individual with the power or status advantage shall notify his or her immediate supervisor. 

The supervisor shall have the responsibility for making arrangements to eliminate or mitigate a conflict whose consequences might prove detrimental to the University or to either party in the relationship. These arrangements should be written with both parties agreeing to the terms.

If the person with the power or status advantage does not report the relationship to his or her immediate supervisor, the individual can be subject to sanction by the supervisor.

Grievance procedures should a sanction be grieved are at the following sites: Administrative Professional, Civil Service, and Student Handbook.

Advisory Comments

University employees should be aware that, due to the subtle yet powerful element of coercion that may exist even in apparently consensual relationships, such relationships are particularly vulnerable to charges of sexual harassment. 

Individuals entering into consensual relationships in the condition of a power differential among the parties must be aware that:

  1. The reasons for entering, maintaining, or terminating such a relationship may be a function of the power differential;
  2. Where power differentials exist, even in a seemingly consensual relationship, there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment; and
  3. It is almost always the case that the individual with the power or status advantage in the relationship will bear the burden of accountability. 

If an allegation of sexual harassment is made, even in the case of a relationship that has been mediated through the procedures outlined under the section "Policy," it will be investigated in accord with established University procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints. The policy can be found at 1.1.1 Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action.

Initiating body: Academic Senate

Contact: Academic Senate (309-438-8735)

Revised on: 02/18/2004

2018-01-29T14:20:54.483-06:00 2018