Consensual Romantic Relationships Policy
Faculty and staff at SUNY Delhi must not engage in sexual and/or romantic relationships with any person over whom they have, or are likely to have, direct authority in terms of employment or educational decisions. Direct authority over a student includes, but is not limited to, the following situations:
- faculty member and students;
- supervisors of work study or student assistants and the students they supervise;
- advisors to organizations or clubs and members of that organization or club;
- coaches or trainers of athletic teams and athletes;
- residence hall directors and students;
- counselors and student clients; and
- academic advisors and their advisees.
SUNY Delhi has provided a clear statement to the college community about the professional risks associated with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a definite power differential between the parties exists. These relationships are inappropriate for two primary reasons.
Conflict of Interest: Conflicts of interest may arise in connection with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty and other instructional staff and students, or between supervisors and subordinates. University policy, and general ethical principles, preclude individuals from evaluating the work or academic performance of others with whom they have intimate relationships, or from making hiring, salary or other similar personnel decisions concerning such persons. The same principles apply to consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships, and require, at a minimum, that appropriate arrangements be made for objective decision-making with regard to the student, subordinate, or prospective employee.
Abuse of Power Differential: In a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship involving a power differential, the potential for serious consequences for the college and the individuals exists. Individuals entering into such relationships must recognize that:
- the reasons for entering into such a relationship may be a function of the power differential;
- even in a seemingly consensual relationship, where power differentials exist, there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment;
- the individual with the power in the relationship will bear the burden of accountability; and
- such relationship, whether in a classroom or work situation, may affect the educational or employment environment for others by creating the appearance of improper, unprofessional, and possibly discriminatory conduct.
It should also be noted that should any complaint be lodged alleging a conflict of interest, abuse of power, or sexual harassment that the claim of “consensual relationship” is not a complete defense, and appropriate disciplinary action, including termination, may follow. Of course, no one faculty member, staff member, or student will be denied due process in the investigation of any such allegations.