Student Handbook

Relationships

Alma College acknowledges its responsibility to provide clear direction to the College community about the professional risks associated with amorous and/or sexual relationships in which a definite power differential between the parties exists. Alma College is committed to fostering the development of learning and work environments in which behavior is professional, ethical and free of unfair discrimination. Amorous/sexual relationships which might be appropriate in other circumstances are problematic when they occur between any faculty or staff member of the college and any student or supervisee for whom he or she has professional (i.e., evaluative or supervisory) responsibility for the following two reasons:

Questionable Voluntary Consent

When a faculty of staff member uses threats to coerce his or her student or supervisee into a relationship, overt sexual harassment has occurred. However, even when the relationship appears to be consensual, fear of retaliation by the faculty or staff member may be one of the factors that motivate the student or supervisee to allow the relationships to begin and continue. In such circumstances, the relationship would not be fully consensual.

Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest may arise in connection with consensual amorous and/or sexual relationships between faculty or staff members and students or supervisees for whom they have professional responsibility. Not every amorous and/or sexual relationship in these circumstances will necessarily result in unfair grades or job evaluations, or absence of voluntary consent. However, to knowingly pursue a relationship despite these grave dangers is unprofessional and may lead to charges of unethical conduct. Faculty and staff members must also take steps to ensure that these dangers do not arise from any amorous and/or sexual relationship in which they are already involved. Thus, for instance, job performance evaluations of a spouse should be delegated to a suitable colleague; and partners should take a course from someone other than the instructor with whom they are involved. When this is impossible, grading responsibility should be delegated to a suitable colleague.

Last updated 7/23/2013