Romantic or sexual relationships between individuals in unequal positions are inherently problematic. In a university setting, such positions include (but are not limited to) teacher and student, manager and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, mentor and trainee, adviser and advisee, teaching assistant and student, individuals participating with students on trips and excursions, coach and athlete, and individuals who supervise the daily student living environment and student residents. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, favoritism and bias, such relationships undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation process. The relationship may also be less consensual than the individual whose position confers power believes and may be perceived in different ways by each of the parties to it, especially in retrospect.
Consensual Relationships with Students
Bentley prohibits faculty and staff members from having romantic or sexual relationships with students (undergraduate, graduate or doctoral) over whom they have educational, advisory or supervisory responsibility. If a complaint against a faculty or staff member related to such romantic or sexual involvement is found to be justified, that faculty or staff member will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
In addition, romantic and sexual relationships with students, whether or not the students are subject to supervision or evaluation by the faculty or staff member, should be avoided. Such relationships are inconsistent with the proper role of the teacher and manager and are susceptible to appearances of impropriety and future conflicts of interest. Bentley therefore strongly discourages such relationships.
Consensual Relationships with Employees
Bentley prohibits romantic or sexual relationships between managers and employees in the same direct reporting line. Such relationships are potentially exploitative and raise concerns about the validity of consent, favoritism, conflicts of interest and unfair treatment. If a complaint against a faculty or staff member related to such romantic or sexual involvement is found to be justified, that faculty or staff member will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
In situations where two employees in the same direct reporting line become romantically or sexually involved, both employees will be required to immediately disclose the relationship to Human Resources and one of the individuals may be required to transfer to a new position (if another position for which the employee is best qualified is available) or to terminate his or her employment within 90 days. Failure to comply with this disclosure requirement is a violation of this policy and therefore grounds for appropriate discipline, up to and including termination.
In situations where two employees become romantically or sexually involved, even if they are not in the same direct reporting line, Bentley reserves the right to transfer (if another position for which the employee is best qualified is available) or terminate the employment of either employee if the relationship becomes disruptive or creates a conflict in the workplace.
Date last revised: April 15, 2015