Romantic Relationships Between Staff Members and Students

This section of the Employee Handbook addresses romantic relationships between University staff members and students. This policy does not apply to University faculty members.

  1. Purpose. In general, relationships between staff members and students are intended to be marked by professionalism, trust, and respect. Staff members have power relative to students, and romantic relationships between staff members and students are susceptible to an abuse of power, especially in a situation where students are developmentally vulnerable.
  2. Definitions and Rules of Application.
    a. The term “romantic relationships” means relationships that are intimate, romantic, or sexual in nature, in which both parties are willing participants, and includes any dating relationship (but excludes all marriage relationships). A relationship falls within this definition even if one or both of the participants consider it to be temporary, or episodic. 
    b. For purposes of applying this policy, a staff member who is taking classes at the University as a student will be treated as a staff member. In all other situations where an individual fits into two or more categories at the same time (e.g., both a faculty member and a staff member), a romantic relationship will be prohibited if any of the applicable policies would result in a prohibited romantic relationship.
  3. Prohibited Romantic Relationships.
    a.A staff member is prohibited from being in a romantic relationship with a student if the staff member has any supervisory, academic, or other professional responsibility over the student.
    b. Romantic relationships are not allowed between staff members who are age 25 or older and students who are under the age of 23.
  4. Procedures for Permitted Romantic Relationships. Should a romantic relationship arise between a staff member and a student that is not described in Section 3.a or 3.b, the staff member (i) must not take on any supervisory, academic, or other professional responsibility over the student, (ii) must disclose the romantic relationship to his or her supervisor, and (c) must participate proactively and cooperatively in measures designed to eliminate the actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest, bias, or impropriety and any adverse effects likely to arise from the romantic relationship.