Guidelines for Faculty/Student Relationships

Executive Memorandum 93-009

May 19, 1993

From: Robin S. Wilson, President

Subject: Guidelines for Faculty/Student Relationships

Upon recommendation of the Faculty Senate, I approve EM 93-09, which sets guidelines for relationships between faculty and students.



Consensual romantic or sexual relationships between faculty and students may be detrimental to the functioning of the University because they may call into question the professional authority under which supervisory actions and grading decisions are made. The University’s responsibilities to the public and to individual members of the university community may be compromised if such conflicts of interest are not avoided.

The faculty’s decision-making responsibilities should not restrict the faculty’s rights as citizens, including the personal rights of association and expression, unless the exercise of those freedoms conflicts with the institutional necessity of impartiality in academic and employment decisions. In that case, the faculty member must restrict his or her participation in such decisions.

Romantic or sexual relationships between faculty and students may in some instances infringe on the rights of the student, other students, or colleagues. The possibility of sexual harassment may arise if the faculty member’s immediate power to influence the student’s academic progress brings into question the ability of the student to genuinely consent freely to the relationship. The possibility of impeding the student’s academic or professional progress may also arise if the faculty member is already in a position of significant decision-making authority with respect to the student. Since the faculty member must abstain from further participation in such decisions, he or she thereby denies the student access to the faculty member’s professional assessment. The possibility of an unwelcome, hostile, or offensive academic environment may also arise if the faculty member fails clearly to separate personal interests from his or her professional decision-making.

Faculty members and students should be aware that the harms listed above do not arise only from existing relationships, but may also arise if an individual in a position of authority over a student makes overt sexual or romantic advances to that student. Even if the advances are welcome, the faculty member should remove him or herself from the teaching or supervisory role, which may impede the student’s academic progress. If the advances are unwelcome, the student may suffer unneeded stress, and the academic relationship may suffer.


Faculty and students are strongly discouraged from entering into mutually consenting romantic or sexual relationships while the faculty member is in a position of evaluation or supervision of the student or in the likelihood that such an academic connection will exist in the foreseeable future. No faculty member, teaching assistant, research assistant, department chair, dean, or other administrative officer should vote, make recommendations, or in any other way participate in the decision of any matter which may directly affect the academic status, evaluation, employment or promotion of a student with whom he or she has or has had a sexual or romantic relationship.


To ensure awareness of these guidelines, the following should occur:

  1. Student Orientation – The guidelines should be printed, included in orientation materials, and verbally referenced during the orientation process for new students. It should accompany materials concerning students rights and responsibilities, sexual harassment, and racial harassment.
  2. Faculty Orientation – The guidelines should be printed, included in orientation materials, and verbally referenced during the orientation process for new faculty.
  3. University Catalog and Student Handbook – The guidelines should be printed and included in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.
  4. Student Information Dissemination – When appropriate, student notifications sent by mail should make reference to the guidelines and where the full text of this policy may be found.
  5. Publication in The Orion The administration annually should request that The Orion publicize these guidelines by inserting them in the newspaper.
  6. Posted Notices – Notices of the guidelines should be posted annually on each open bulletin board on campus.
  7. Circulation to Faculty – Copies of the guidelines should be sent to faculty biannually.

These guidelines and the methods for implementing the publication and dissemination of the guidelines will be reviewed triennially by the Student Policies Committee or when requested to do so by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.