Consensual Relationships Policy
The purpose of this policy is to address one type of conflict of interest, consensual relationships involving students.
A. Consensual Relationships
1. The educational mission of East Tennessee State University (ETSU) requires that the relationship between faculty and students be professional in nature. Similarly, the University is committed to protecting the integrity and objectivity of its staff members in the performance of their duties. ETSU deems it fundamental that every faculty and staff member maintain a professional relationship with every student of the University so that professional responsibilities may be carried out in an atmosphere free of conflicts.
2. This policy works in conjunction with ETSU’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure Review Committee policy (PPP-72).
3. This policy applies to sexual or amorous relationships; regardless of who initiates the relationship, the employee is responsible for complying with this policy.
4. Nothing in this policy should be construed as prohibiting the spouse of a faculty or staff member from enrolling as a student. Nothing in this policy should be construed as prohibiting the spouse of a student from accepting employment as a faculty or staff member.
5. Complaints concerning sexual harassment directed at a student, faculty, or staff member are resolved under PPP-80, Discrimination and Harassment – Complaint and Investigation Procedure.
a. Should an amorous or sexual relationship in violation of this policy lead to a sexual harassment or discrimination charge, the Office of University Compliance investigates and resolves the charge in accordance with PPP-80.
b. In cases where a reporting party alleges both unwanted sexual behavior and a consensual sexual relationship with an evaluative authority, the two complaints will be considered separate allegations.
B. Undergraduate Students
1. Any sexual or amorous relationship between an undergraduate student and a faculty or staff member is prohibited at East Tennessee State University.
C. Graduate Students
1. Any sexual or amorous relationship between a graduate student and a faculty or staff member with evaluative authority over that student is prohibited at East Tennessee State University.
2. Intimate relationships between a faculty or staff member with evaluative authority over a student create a conflict of interest due to the inherent inequality of power in such situations. Such relationships may also adversely affect faculty, staff, and students who are not direct parties of the relationship itself, leading them to believe there is favoritism even if there is not.
D. Relationships Between Employees
1. Sexual or amorous relationships between faculty members, faculty and staff members, or staff members, where one person exercises evaluative or supervisory authority over the other are prohibited.
E. Past and/or Preexisting Relationships
1. A faculty or staff member who has had a past or preexisting sexual or amorous relationship with a student is prohibited from exercising evaluative authority over that student.
F. Violations of Policy.
1.Violations of this policy by employees shall result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Any person with authority over a student or subordinate. This includes but is not limited to teaching, examining, advising on or evaluating research or other academic activity, grading, supervision, writing letters of recommendation, award/scholarship recognition, scheduling, grading employment, coaching, training, the ability to affect membership/participation or to provide special consideration or treatment.
Sexual or Amorous Relationship
Any relationship when both parties consent and the relationship is of an intimate or romantic nature, whether that be dating, sexual, or another arrangement.
Effective Date: 11/22/2019
PPP-80 Discrimination and Harassment – Complaint and Investigation (Revised 10/3/18)
Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationship Policy (Approved by Board of Trustees 6/9/17)
Scope and Applicability
|Responsible Official||Responsible Office|
Chief Operating Officer