The State University of New York College at Oneonta is strongly committed to being a community that promotes the exchange of ideas, builds mutual trust and respect, encourages communication, and reduces misunderstandings. This policy addresses situations that may lead to a breakdown of trust and respect resulting from sexual and amorous relationships. The college recognizes that the decision to engage in such relationships is a personal one. Nonetheless, to fulfill its legal and ethical obligations and commitment to promoting equal employment and educational opportunity and a safe and welcoming community for students and employees, the college states the following:
- Romantic or sexual relationships between employees and students over whom the employee has current supervisory, instructional, or other professional responsibility are prohibited; and
- Consensual relationships between college employees and all students are strongly discouraged.
The college strives to create a welcoming environment for all employees, students, and visitors. It is the policy of the college to provide an environment where employees and students are free from harassment, including sexual harassment. When a party in a position of authority induces another to enter into a non-consensual relationship, the harm to the individuals and institution is clear. Some relationships that are consensual may also be problematic. This policy addresses specific romantic and/or amorous situations between employees and students that could lead to a breakdown in mutual trust and respect and could result in a hostile working or learning environment.
Sexual and romantic relationships between employees and students may be detrimental to the environment at the college. These relationships exceed professional, collegial, or academic partnerships. They are problematic because of the unequal status of the parties and the real or perceived conflict of interest, particularly when the employee has supervisory, instructional, or other professional responsibility over the student. This imbalance makes it difficult or impossible for the student to genuinely consent to enter into an amorous or sexual relationship and may impede the real or perceived freedom of the student to terminate or alter the relationship. All of these factors negatively impact the student’s ability to benefit from the college.
The relationship may also negatively affect others in the classroom, department, office, team, or unit. It may create a real or perceived impropriety, sense of favoritism, loss of objectivity, and a conflict of interest in any supervisory, instructional, or other professional role. If a conflict of interest arises, the employee may also be in violation of the New York Public Officers Law, Section 74 “Code of Ethics”. The relationship may damage the credibility or reputation of the employee, the department, or the college as a whole and may expose individuals or the institution to legal action and liability.
Procedure: It is the responsibility of the employee to disclose the relationship to his/her supervisor or to Human Resources or the Affirmative Action Office and to remove her/himself from situations violating this policy. He/she will be held accountable for any violations of this policy. Any appropriate administrative or disciplinary action may be taken, as provided for in collective bargaining agreements, where applicable, including formal discipline and/or charges of sexual harassment or discrimination.
Related Policies: College Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedures College Nepotism Policy.
Affirmative Action Office; 133B Netzer Administration Building; 607-436-2835
Human Resources; 208 Netzer Administration Building; 607-436-2509
Approved by the President December 16, 2014
- “Consensual relationship” shall mean and refer to any relationship, either past or present, which is romantic, intimate, or sexual in nature and to which both parties consent or consented. This includes marriage.
- “Student” shall mean and refer to any person applying to the college or currently enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in any course or academic program associated with the college.
- “Employee” shall mean and refer to any person whose primary role within the college community is as a member of the faculty or staff.
- “Supervisory, instructional, or other professional responsibility” shall mean and refer to any of those situations where the employee is responsible for evaluating, teaching, supervising, advising, mentoring, coaching, counseling, providing extracurricular oversight, supervision of research, and/or employment of a student as a research or teaching assistant, and/or otherwise participating in or influencing votes or decisions that may reward or penalize a student.