434.1 Romantic or Sexual Relationships

S-434.1 In general, there are special risks in romantic or sexual relationships between individuals in inherently unequal positions, and parties in such a relationship assume those risks. Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, and bias, such relationships may undermine or be perceived to undermine integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided. Such relationships may be less consensual than the individual whose position confers power or authority believes. The relationship may be perceived in different ways by each of the parties, especially in retrospect. Within the College, such positions include, but are not limited to, supervisor and employee.

Moreover, such relationships may negatively affect others in the academic or work environment. Relationships in which one party is in a position to review the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds for complaints by third parties when that relationship gives undue access or advantage, restricts opportunities, or creates a perception of these problems. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.
P-434.1 Where romantic or sexual relationships exist between employees of the College, the person in the position of greater authority or power will bear the primary burden of accountability, and must ensure that he or she does not exercise any supervisory or evaluation function over the other person in the relationship.
Pr-434.1.1 Where a transfer of supervisory responsibility may be required, the party with the greater accountability as noted in P.434.1/534.1 must also notify his or her supervisor, department head, or dean, so that such head, dean or supervisor can exercise his or her responsibility to evaluate the adequacy of the alternative supervisory evaluation arrangements to be put in place. As an option, employees may notify the Human Resources department. While an effort will be made to transfer supervisory responsibility, there is no guarantee that this can be accomplished. In this situation, a transfer or separation of employment of one of the involved individuals may be necessary.

To reiterate, the responsibility for notification rests with the person in the position of greater authority or power. Failure to comply with these notification requirements is a violation of this policy, and therefore grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
P-434.1.1 The College will view it as unethical and a violation of this policy if College employees establish a romantic or sexual relationship with a student enrolled in his or her class or who is subject to that employee’s supervision. The ethics of such behavior is questionable even when the relationship is consensual, because the voluntary consent of the student is in doubt, given the power imbalance in the student-employee relationship. Even if consent were to be shown, a clear conflict of interest would still exist which might create the appearance of discrimination or favoritism in grading or access to educational opportunities. Such employee-student relationships may include, but are not limited to, faculty and student, adviser and advisee, employee and student, and coach and athlete.

Where a romantic or sexual relationship already exists and it is the employee-student relationship that is newly-established, the employee must notify the supervisor, department head, or dean, so that such head, dean, or supervisor can exercise his or her responsibility to evaluate the feasibility of a transfer of authority or whether an approved exception to policy is appropriate.
  Reporting Romantic or Sexual Relationships
Pr-434.1.2 Should a student become aware of a violation of this policy, the violation should be immediately reported to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, 636-922-8356, Room SSB 2110 or as an alternative, the Dean of Students, 636-922-8238, Room SSB 1104. The College will respond to a reported violation in a prompt and equitable manner and will respond appropriately to those who violate this policy.
Pr-434.1.3 Should an employee become aware of a violation of this policy, the violation should be immediately reported to the Vice President for Human Resources, 636-922-8300, Room ADM 1123. Reports may also be made to any Administrative Officer of the College. The College will respond to a reported violation in a prompt and equitable manner and will respond appropriately to those who violate this policy.

Administrative Officers

President 636-922-8380
Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs 636-922-8356
Vice President for Administrative Services 636-922-8359
Vice President for Human Resources 636-922-8300
Vice President for Marketing & Communications 636-922-8277
Vice President for College Advancement 636-922-8472
Policy Code Key
P Policy PR Procedure D Definition S Supplement

Content Owner: Donna Davis — ddavis@stchas.edu
Page Updated by: Jessica Trimborn
Date Issued: 
Date Revised: 03/01/06 , 10/07/09