OSB Policy on Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationships between an Administrator or Support Staff member & Students
I. Policy Rationale
The College of Saint Benedict and Order of Saint Benedict are committed to maintaining a campus environment characterized by professional and ethical behavior. The integrity of the educational mission of the College and Order are maintained by promoting appropriate standards of professional conduct among administrators and support staff (hereinafter referred to as "staff") in their dealings with students. In these relationships, staff are expected to avoid apparent or actual conflicts of interest, fvoritism, bias or exploitation. When staff engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student, while he or she also has the authority to assign, evaluate, advice, reward or discipline a student, a professional responsibility is violated, even if the relationship appears to be consensual.
As the Joint Human Rights Policy of the College and Order states consensual sexual or romantic relationships may also become the basis for a claim of sexual harassment. These relationships are particularly complex when there is a power imbalance between the individuals involved in the relationship which heightens the potential for exploitation and can diminish the subordinate's freedom of choice. This is especially true in relationships involving students because the respect and trust accorded a staff member by a student, as well as the power exercised by staff in an academic or evaluative role, makes voluntary consent by the student particularly suspect. If the student later feels that the power imbalance makes it difficult for him or her to discontinue the relationship, a charge of sexual harassment may result. Such relationships also affect other members of the campus community adversely. By placing a staff member in a position to favor or advance the interests of the student who is a party to the relationship, a perception may be created that obtaining favorable treatment is implicitly contingent on engaging in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship.
For these reasons, the College and Order strongly discourage staff from involvement in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship with a student for whom they have a direct employment or academic responsibility. Recognizing that despite this discouragement by the College and Order, consenting adults may become involved in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship, it is important that steps be taken to mitigate the real and/or apparent conflict of interest that is created.
II. Statement of Policy, Procedures & Consequences
Therefore, it is the policy of the College and Order that staff involved in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student for whom the staff member has a direct employment or academic responsibility, must promptly report the relationship to his or her Department Manager. the Department Manager must, in turn, report the relationship to the Human Resources director. If the staff involved in the relationship is the department Manager, she/he must report the relationship to the Human Resources Director. Upon receiving notice, the Department Manager in consultation with the Human Resources director, or the appointee if the Department Manager is the involved party, must make arrangements for an alternative evaluation mechanism and, if necessary, such other additional arrangements as are prudent under the circumstances, for both parties.
The staff member is obliged to fully cooperate with the Department Manager and Human Resources Director is making these mitigating arrangements. Such arrangements made in response to the existence of a consensual romantic or sexual relationship will not be undertaken for the purpose of adversely affecting appointment status, pay, benefits or professional opportunities of the staff member. Similarly, the arrangements will be undertaken with the intent of minimizing or avoiding, to the extent reasonably possible, adverse effects on the educational opportunities of the student.
Failure to promptly report the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship described above is a violation of this College and Order policy, and the staff member will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the Employee Handbook.
A staff member who becomes involved in a consensual amorous or sexual relationship with a colleague should consult the POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN STAFF MEMBERS located in Appendix J in the Employee Handbook.
For purposes of this policy:
Romantic relationships include relationships in which amorous or romantic feeligns exist without physical intimacy and which, when acted upon by the staff member exceed the reasonable boundaries of what a person of ordinary sensibilities would believe to be an educational, professional or supervisory relationship.
Sexual relationships include relationships involving intimate physical contact of a sexual nature.
Amorous has the meaning ascribed to it by the dictionary as being "of or pertaining to (sexual) love."
Romantic has the meaning ascribed to it by the dictionary as being "marked chiefly by sexual passion or its gratification."
A direct academic responsibility for students includes any activity which results in academic reward or penalty including: teaching, advising, supervising work assignments and research projects, moderating an internship, supervising institutionally sponsored travel and making recommendations for College and/or Order employment or awards.
A direct supervisory responsibility for a staff member includes any activity which results in employment related rewards or penalties including, but is not limited to, the following activities; conducting or contributing to performance appraisals or rank and tenure reviews, determining or contributing to the determination of a persno's employment status, job description, rank, salary, fringe benefits, or recommending for or influencing the determination of institutional funding, distinguished service awards, or discipline for deficient service.
Students refer to all those registered in any and all educational programs offered by the College/University.
Staff includes any and all employees other than faculty of the College of Saint Benedict and the Order of Saint Benedict, Inc.