View Bill 18-19-37

Senate Bill 18-19-37

Bill ID: 18-19-37
Name: Proposal to Establish a Consensual Relationships Policy
Proposed: 03/28/2019
Sponsor: Steve Rolston, Professor & Chair, Physics
Proposal: A conflict of interest arises when faculty develop amorous/sexual relationships with students in their classes, in campus organizations, or in any situation in which the student might fear reprisals or expect special treatment. Perceptions of retaliation or favoritism and liability for the University could ensue.

The University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy “discourages” but does not prohibit these types of relationships between faculty and students. There have been cases where these types of relationships have been problematic, so it is important for the University to consider this issue specifically.

Develop a specific policy to prohibit consensual relationships between faculty and the students that they supervise or instruct, because of the inherent conflict of commitment and power imbalance.
Active?Yes

Status

Status: Completed
Completed On: 05/10/2021

History

Approval(s):
Presidential Approval: 05/10/2021
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Reviewed By: Senate
Received: 04/27/2021
Decision Date: 05/04/2021
Decision: The Senate voted to approve the proposal.
Next Step: Presidential Approval
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 04/26/2021
Decision Date: 04/27/2021
Decision: The SEC voted to place the item on the agenda of the May 4, 2021 Senate meeting for consideration.
Next Step: Senate Review
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Reviewed By: Faculty Affairs Committee
Received: 08/24/2020
Decision Date: 04/26/2021
Decision Due By: 02/05/2021
Decision: The Faculty Affairs Committee voted to approve the proposed policy and a recommendation on the Sexual Harassment Policy language on April 26, 2021.
Actions: The Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) began reviewing its charge in December 2019. During its initial consideration of the charge, the committee met with the Title IX Officer and Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM) to discuss the Consensual Relationships and Professional Conduct provision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. It also consulted with its exofficio
representatives from the Office of Faculty Affairs and University Human Resources (UHR). The committee could not obtain information about how prevalent relationships between faculty and staff are at the University, because it is unusual for these relationships to be disclosed, despite the requirement for disclosure in the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Normally, relationships between faculty and students are exposed by a third-party who believes that the student is receiving favorable treatment or that the relationship is creating an uncomfortable or hostile environment. Occasionally, a relationship participant will disclose the relationship if the relationship falls apart or when one party feels pressured by the other. These situations may be reported to the OCRSM or UHR as potential complaints of Prohibited Conduct under the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The FAC met with the proposer to learn more about the circumstances that led to the submission of the proposal. The proposer shared their experience with a relationship between a faculty member and a student in the faculty member’s class, which was disclosed by other students in the class. The proposer stated that the Sexual Misconduct Policy did not provide sufficient guidance or authority for the Department Chair to address the situation fully.

The FAC reviewed policies and procedures related to consensual relationships between faculty and students at Big 10 and other peer institutions. The FAC determined that the University should have a separate, stand-alone policy on consensual relationships and professional conduct that prohibits some relationships between faculty and students in addition to strongly discouraging other relationships.

Due to changes in University operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, the FAC did not continue its work on the charge for the remainder of the semester. In fall 2020, the Senate leadership decided that it should form a standing subcommittee of the full Faculty Affairs Committee in order to try to distribute the substantial workload within the committee by referring specific items to the subcommittee and asking it to make a recommendation to the full committee. The charge on the proposal for a consensual relationships policy was among the matters referred to the new standing subcommittee of the FAC.

The subcommittee began its work in late November 2020. In addition to reviewing the initial work by the FAC, the subcommittee reviewed several peer institution policies on consensual and prohibited relationships between faculty and students.
Since the proposal was related to relationships between faculty and students, the subcommittee focused its consultations and review of peer institution policies on relationships between these constituencies. Among the subcommittee’s initial considerations for developing a consensual relationship policy was whether romantic, amorous, and intimate relationships between faculty and students should be prohibited completely, or if those relationships should only be prohibited under certain circumstances.

The subcommittee acknowledged that a policy cannot legislate appropriate values and interactions between faculty and students. The University’s commitment should be reaffirmed through guidance for faculty and education that enhances and reinforces faculty members’ awareness of the impact and influence that they have on the academic, professional, and overall development of students.

The subcommittee also noted that there is more work to be done to address consensual relationships across other constituency groups, including faculty, staff, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students. Therefore, the subcommittee recommended that the Senate consider whether further reviews related to consensual relationships between other constituencies where a power
imbalance may exist are needed. The subcommittee consulted with the OCRSM on a proposed revision to the Sexual Harassment Policy to remove language that conflicted with the proposed consensual relationships policy. The subcommittee also consulted with the Office of General Counsel on the draft policy language.

After due consideration, the subcommittee voted by email on April 24, 2021, to recommend the proposed Policy on Consensual Relationships immediately following this report to the Faculty Affairs Committee for its consideration and recommendation to the Senate. The Faculty Affairs Committee voted to approve the proposed policy and a recommendation on the Sexual Harassment Policy language on April 26, 2021.
Next Step: SEC Review


Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 08/26/2020
Decision Date: 08/26/2020
Decision: The SEC voted to approve extending the charge deadline to February 5, 2021.
Next Step: Faculty Affairs Committee review.


Reviewed By: Faculty Affairs Committee
Received: 11/25/2019
Decision Date: 08/24/2020
Decision: The Faculty Affairs Committee requested an extension of the charge deadline.
Actions: The committee began discussing the charge in December 2019. Based on meetings with the proposer and with the Title IX Officer and Director of the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM), as well as review of the consensual relationship provision of the University Sexual Misconduct Policy and the consensual relationship policies and procedures at Big 10 and peer institutions, in early March 2020, the committee determined that it would pursue developing a policy related to consensual relationships separate from the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The committee was not able to continue its work due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on campus operations. Therefore, the committee requested an extension of its reporting deadline to February 5, 2021.
Next Step: SEC Review


Reviewed By: Faculty Affairs Committee
Received: 04/08/2019
Decision Due By: 11/06/2020
Actions: The FAC began discussing its charge at its meeting on December 2, 2019. The committee reviewed the Sexual Misconduct Policy, as well as policies and procedures related to consensual relationships at Big 10 and other peer institutions. The FAC met with the proposer in February 2020 to discuss his perspectives based on his role at the institution. The FAC also met with the Title IX Officer and Director of the Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM) in March 2020.
Next Step: SEC Review
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Reviewed By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 04/01/2019
Decision Date: 04/08/2019
Decision: The SEC voted to charge the Faculty Affairs Committee with review of the proposal.
Next Step: Faculty Affairs Committee Review
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