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3.3.12 B Consensual Relations in Instructional Settings

In no event can social, professional, business, romantic, or other relationships be allowed to influence the grading and/or evaluation of either a student or other member of the university community. When such relationships that potentially could create conflicts of interest exist, the entire university community may expect that extra care be given to assure grading and evaluation is performed in a fair and impartial manner.  Whenever such relationships exist, faculty have an ethical obligation to maintain documentation to reasonably demonstrate impartiality and objectivity in the event that a member of the university community brings a grievance under this Code. A faculty member may elect to have their Department Chair or other faculty member review the grading of a student to preclude any appearance of impropriety. Faculty members have an ethical obligation not to initiate nor enter into consensual amorous, romantic, and/or sexual relationships with students or others during the time that the faculty member is in a position to evaluate or supervise the partner in the relationship. Faculty members should be aware that there can be a perception of subtle yet powerful elements of coercion even in apparently consensual relationships, and as a result, such relationships are particularly vulnerable to charges of sexual harassment. Individuals  entering into consensual relationships when there is a power differential among the parties must be aware that: A) the reasons for entering,  maintaining, or terminating such a relationship may be perceived as a  function of the power differential; B) where power differentials exist, even in a seemingly consensual relationship, there are limited  after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment; and C) 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, 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 Policy.   Faculty members are also reminded that even consensual romantic and/or consensual sexual relationships can lead to uncomfortable situations for those involved--especially when one is supervising the other. Even if these uncomfortable situations do not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, the University has the legal power and in some cases the responsibility to mitigate these situations by removing one party or both parties from the supervisory relationship. When a faculty member’s supervisor (typically the Department Chair) becomes aware of such a situation, that person (typically the Chair) will discuss the situation with the Office for Diversity and Affirmative Action, and may also discuss with others in the university administration that may be appropriate, and act accordingly.

Initiating body: Academic Senate

Contact: Academic Senate (309-438-8735)

Revised on: 02/2004

2018-01-29T14:21:07.27-06:00 2018