Faculty Consensual Relationships Policy Development

Consensual relationships can still be ethically questionable. Students today expect protection from sexual or romantic overtures from faculty or staff. Yet, even in this age of rapidly expanding liability, faculty members can resist limitations on their abilities to date students and each other.

Faculty often view these policies as an attempt to take away their power or rights. We share another perspective—faculty can be encouraged to see these policies as strong self-protection. This workshop encourages faculty to take on voluntary restrictions or implement self-governance policies—to great effect! Different policy models are explored, and rational language is proffered.

Considerable attention is given to the important question of what happens if the policy is violated. Extending the policy to staff and Resident Assistants (RAs) while creating exceptions (such as for pre-existing relationships) is all in the details. Sometimes, faculty members believe that there might be penalties for entering into a relationship with a student, when it might be possible to alter the power imbalance or potential to abuse it, instead. This workshop presents ideas for how to devise a policy that focuses on eliminating and mitigating power differential-related risk within romantic liaisons in educational settings.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will explore the need for consensual/ethical relationship policies
  • Participants will understand how the consensual relationship policy enforcement can and should differ from Title IX policy enforcement
  • Participants will appreciate that it’s often logical not to ban the relationship but to address the power differential that makes the relationship ethically questionable
  • Participants will review various policy and enforcement models
  • Participants will explore how broad or narrow the scope of policy should be and how unethical relationships differ from and intersect with Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment allegations

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