A. Consensual Relationships
It is in the interest of the University to provide clear direction and educational opportunities to the University community regarding the professional risks associated with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a definite power differential between the parties exists. These relationships are of concern for two primary reasons:
1. Conflict of Interest. Conflicts of interest may arise in connection with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty or other instructional staff and students, or between supervisors and subordinates. University policy and more general ethical principles preclude individuals from evaluating the work or academic performance of others with whom they have intimate familial relationships, or from making hiring, salary, or similar financial decisions concerning such persons. The same principles apply to consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships, and require, at a minimum, that appropriate arrangements be made for objective decision-making with regard to the student, subordinate, or prospective employee.
2. Abuse of Power Differential. Although conflict of interest issues can be resolved, in a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship involving a power differential, the potential for serious consequences remains. Individuals entering into such relationships must recognize that:
a. the reasons for entering such a relationship may be a function of the power differential;
b. even in a seeming consensual relationship, where power differentials exist, there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment; and
c. the individual with the power in the relationship will often bear the burden of accountability.
d. Such a relationship, whether in a class or work situation, may affect the educational or employment environment for others by creating an appearance of improper, unprofessional, or possibly discriminatory conduct.