University Policy on Consenting Relationships

POLICY LIBRARY
http://www.policy.ku.edu

CATEGORY:

Academic:  Academic Work & Evaluations; Academic:  Conflict of Interest; Academic:  Misconduct; Personnel:  Conflicts of Interest; Personnel:  Workplace Rules & Guidelines

POLICY STATUS:

Approved

POLICY TITLE:

Consenting Relationships, University of Kansas Policy on

POLICY PURPOSE:

To address situations in which two persons have an apparently voluntary romantic or sexual relationship, but where a power differential exists because of their roles within the university, e.g., faculty/student or supervisor/employee.

APPLIES TO:

All faculty, staff, and students, Lawrence campus

 

 

POLICY STATEMENT:

The University of Kansas has a tradition of commitment to providing an academic community environment that, without discrimination, fosters intellectual, professional and personal growth. Central to the preservation of this environment is the trust that should characterize all interactions among those working toward the common goal of the institution, namely, our students, faculty, unclassified staff, and university support staff. This trust is put at risk when members of the University community engage in consenting romantic or sexual relationships that involve persons of unequal power, for example, administrator and faculty, faculty and student, supervisor and employee. Because the University of Kansas strongly disapproves of consenting relationships where a professional power differential exists, this policy statement is being promulgated.

1.       A faculty member will always be treated as having such a power differential if the student is in an educational experience where the faculty member has authority to assign grades. The same holds in other circumstances as well, for example, when a faculty member serves on thesis, dissertation, or scholarship awards committees.

These principles also apply to administrators and supervisors in their relationships with students, faculty, unclassified staff, and university support staff.

2.       In the view of the University of Kansas, romantic or sexual relationships between persons of unequal power, even if consenting, are unwise and often contrary to professional ethics. Such a relationship tends to impair one's ability to make an objective judgment of the performance of the student or employee.

Those who choose to ignore these standards will stand responsible for their actions and risk the loss of support of the University community.

3.       Decisions concerning grades, degrees, promotions, evaluations, merit increases, and awards must be made free from any trace of bias or favor. Such decisions come under a cloud when made by those who have an emotional relationship, beyond the purely professional or academic one, with those who benefit from those decisions.

Even the mere appearance of bias may seriously disrupt the academic or work environment.

4.       The individual in authority bears the primary responsibility for any negative consequences resulting from an even apparently consenting romantic or sexual relationship. It is the student or the employee, not the instructor or supervisor, who is most at risk in these relationships. In particular, the respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the legitimate power exercised by the professor in giving grades, criticism, praise, recommendations for further study, future employment, etc., greatly diminish the student's actual freedom of choice, should sexual favors be added to the professor's demands. Although it is proper for a student to decline any personal relationship of this kind, a student may feel that few options are available when a professor asks for a date.

If an employee's supervisor attempts to initiate a personal relationship, the employee may feel that his or her options are similarly limited. As a result, the degree of informed consent that exists within such a relationship is difficult to establish. Should a charge of sexual harassment follow, a claim of mutual consent may be difficult to sustain.

5.       Commonly accepted standards of professional behavior and ethics require that faculty members not hold evaluative power over any student with whom they have a romantic or sexual relationship. Thus, faculty members should not initiate or accept such a relationship with a student over whom they have an evaluative role. Should such a relationship exist between a faculty member and a student, the faculty member must remove him/herself from the evaluation of the student's work. Failure to do so will be a violation of Article V, Section 5 of the Faculty Code of Conduct.

Similar proscription applies to administrators and supervisors in their relationships with students and employees over whom they have an evaluative role. A supervisor who is in a romantic or sexual relationship with another individual over whom he or she has evaluative responsibility must remove himself or herself from personnel decisions concerning that individual, such as appointment, retention, promotion, discipline, tenure, or salary. Failure to do so will be a conflict of interest.

CONSEQUENCES:

If a romantic or sexual relationship exists between a faculty member and a student over whom the faculty member has an evaluative role, the faculty member must remove himself or herself from the evaluation of the student's work.  This obligation continues even after the relationship has ended.  Failure to do so will be a violation of Article V, Section 5 of the Faculty Code of Conduct and the faculty member may be subject to one of the sanctions listed in Article VI of the Faculty Code of Conduct (warning, restitution, recommendation of censure, recommendation of suspension, recommendation of dismissal).

Similar proscription applies to administrators and supervisors in their relationships with students and employees over whom they have an evaluative role.  A supervisor who is in a romantic or sexual relationship with another individual over whom he or she has evaluative responsibility must remove himself from personnel decisions concerning that individual, such as appointment, retention, promotion, discipline, tenure, or salary.  Failure to do so will be a conflict of interest and will be subject to disciplinary action for violation of University policy, up to and including dismissal. 

 

CONTACTS:

Responsible Office

Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

University of Kansas,

Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Boulevard, Room 250

Lawrence, KS 66045

785-864-4904

provost@ku.edu

 

Contact

Policy Office

Division of the Office of the Provost

795-864-9600

policy@ku.edu

APPROVED BY:

Chancellor Gene A. Budig

APPROVED ON:

February 1, 1994

EFFECTIVE ON:

February 1, 1994

REVIEW CYCLE:

Biennial

 

BACKGROUND:

Policy initially developed by the administration in summer 1993 based on recommendations submitted by a task force on sexual harassment appointed by the Executive Vice Chancellor; approved by the Chancellor on July 23, 1993, to be effective August 20, 1993.  Reviewed by a University Governance task force in fall 1993, with final revisions approved by University Council [now University Senate] January 27, 1994.  Approved by the Chancellor February 1, 1994.  Reviewed biennially since that date to ensure that the policy reflects current university structure and nomenclature.  There have been no substantive changes to the policy approved in 1994. 

RELATED DOCUMENTS;

Policies

Sexual Harassment Policy

https://documents.ku.edu/policies/IOA/Sexual_Harassment.htm


Other

To view brochure describing the Consenting Relationships Policy, go to:

https://documents.ku.edu/policies/provost/ConsentingRelationships
Brochure.pdf

 

To view brochure describing the Sexual Harassment Policy, and "What to Do About Sexual Harassment," go to:

http://www.hreo.ku.edu/files/documents/SexualHarass.pdf

KEYWORDS:

Romantic relationship, sexual relationship, conflict of interest, power differential, sexual harassment, consenting relationship, consensual relationship

REVIEW/CHANGE HISTORY:

Implemented February 1, 1994; reviewed biennially, most recently in April 2009, by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel.  There have been no substantive changes since the policy was adopted in 1994.  Reviewed December 2006 and April 2009 by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel.

Last modified: Oct 11, 2012
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