CSB/SJU Faculty Policies

POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FACULTY MEMBERS

Approved by JFA 02/14/08
Approved by Board 3/08
Re-approved by Saint John's University 2012

I. Policy Rationale

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are committed to maintaining a campus environment characterized by professional and ethical behavior. To this end, members of the faculty are expected to avoid apparent or actual conflicets of interest, favoritism, bias or exploitation. Thus, it is in the interest of the College and University to provide clear direction to the faculty about the risks associated with making professional judgments about their faculty colleagues with whom a faculty member has or has had a consensual romatic or sexual relationship.

As the Joint Human Rights Policy of the College and University states consensual sexual or romantic relationships may also become the basis for a claim of sexual harassment. If the faculty colleague later feels that he or she is not free to discontinue the relationship because of the staff member's power to make or influence decisions which reward or punish the colleague, a charge of sexual harassment may result. In such circumstances, it can be very difficult for the faculty member to prove consent and avoid the negative consequences of a finding of sexual harassment.

Such relationships can affect other members of the campus community adversely. A consensual romantic or sexual relationship may create a perception that hte processes of evaluation, reward, and discipline of the College and University are unfairly biased and affected by favoritism. The relationship may make the workplace uncomfortable for other faculty colleagues, students, or staff, violating the respect for the rights and human dignity of every other member which under grid the community life of the institutions.

II. Policy, Procedures & Consequences

For these reasons, the College and University requires a faculty member currently or previously involved in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship with a faculty colleague to excuse him or herself from any decision involving the employment status or work related benefits of the colleague.

If required to provide an evaluation of the colleague to the Rank and Tenure Committee, the faculty member should submit a letter noting the conflict of interest and the resultant inability to provide an evaluation. A faculty member who is a member of a committee which makes recommendations regarding the employment status or work related benefits of colleagues when an application from the faculty colleague is under consideration, the faculty member should notify the chair of the committee of the need to be excused from the decision regarding the faculty colleague. The committee chair should consult with the vice provost to determine if any other arrangements are necessary to eliminate the conflict of interest. If the chair of the committee has the conflict of interest, he or she must notify the vice provost and work with him or her to eliminate the conflict. If other situations arise which involve the faculty member in making employment related decisions about the faculty colleague with whom he or she is involved in a relationship covered by this policy, the conflict should be reported to the vice provost who will work with the faculty member to eliminate the conflict. Any 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 rank, pay, benefits or professional opportunities of the faculty member or faculty colleague.

In the event a consensual sexual or amorous relationship exists, the failure of a faculty member to excuse him or herself from the evaluation of or decision making process involving the employment status or work related benefits of the faculty colelague is a violation of this College and University policy, and the faculty member will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in Section 2.13.6 of the Faculty Handbook.

A faculty member who becomes involved in a consensual amorous or sexual relationship with a student should consult the POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FACULTY AND STUDENTS OR STAFF MEMBERS located in Appendix D, Part II, of the Joint Faculty Handbook.

III. Definitions

For purposes of this policy:
Romantic relationships include relationships in which amorous or romantic feelings exist without physical intimacy and which, when acted upon by the faculty 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.
"Faculty" includes ranked and term appointment faculty; part-time, per-course faculty; staff members whose duties include instruction of students for academic credit and any person who has a "direct academic responsibility" for students.
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.

POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FACULTY AND STUDENTS OR STAFF MEMBERS

Approved by JFA 2/14/08
Approved by Board March, 2008
Re-approved by Saint John's University 2012
Amendment to Definitions approved by JFA 4/3/08

I. Policy Rationale

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are committed to maintaining a campus environment characterized by professional and ethical behavior. The integrity of the educational mission of the College and University are maintained by promoting appropriate standards of professional conduct among faculty in their dealings with students and staff. In these relationships, members of the faculty are expected to avoid apparent or actual conflicts of interest, favoritism, bias or exploitation. When a faculty member engages in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student or staff member, 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 University 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 professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor 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 faculty member in a position to favor or advance the interests of the student or staff member 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 University strongly discourage faculty involvement in a consensual sexual or romantic relationship with a student for whom the faculty member has a direct academic responsibility. Recognizing that despite this discouragement by the College and University, consenting adult faculty members, students, faculty colleagues and staff, 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 University that a faculty involved in a romantic or sexual relationship, either with a student for whom the faculty member has a direct academic responsibility or with a staff member over whom the faculty member has direct supervisory responsibility, must promptly report the relationship to his or her department chair, who must in turn, report the relationship to the vice provost. If the faculty member involved in the relationship is the department chair, she/he must report the relationship to the vice provost.

Upon receiving notice from the faculty member, the department chair in consultation with the vice provost, or the vice provost alone if the department chair 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 the faculty member and the student or staff member.

The faculty member is obliged to fully cooperate with the department chair and vice provost in 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 rank, pay, benefits or professional opportunities of the faculty 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 or the employment of a staff member.

Failure to promptly report the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship described above is a violation of this College and University policy, and the faculty member will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in Section 2.13.6 of the Faculty Handbook.

A faculty member who becomes involved in a consensual amorous or sexual relationship with a faculty colleague should consult the POLICY ON CONSENSUAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FACULTY MEMBERS located in Appendix C, Part II, of the Joint Faculty Handbook.

III. Definitions

For purposes of this policy:
Romantic relationships include relationships in which amorous or romantic feelings 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, grading,  advising, supervising research, moderating an internship, supervising institutionally sponsored travel and making recommendations for College and/or University 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 person'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 Saint John's University.
"Faculty" includes ranked and term appointment faculty; part-time, per-course faculty; staff members whose duties include instruction of students for academic credit and any person who has a "direct academic responsibility" for students.
Consensual means voluntary agreement. The age at which a person can legally give consent to sexual contact in the state of Minnesota is 18 if the other party to the sexual relationship is in a position of authority over that person. Further, faculty members should bear in mind that consent may be difficult to prove if the student or staff with whom he or she has a relationship subsequently files a claim of sexual harassment.