3.4.3. Consensual Relationship Policy

The educational mission of Oglethorpe University is promoted by the professionalism of its faculty- student relationships, staff-student relationships, supervisor-employee relationships and employee- employee relationships. These professional relationships must not be compromised by romantic or sexual attachments.

Consenting relationships that are of concern to Oglethorpe are those intimate, romantic or sexual relationships where there is a reporting or evaluation relationship between the two parties. In the case of faculty member and student, the respect and trust accorded the instructor by the student and the instructor’s power in assigning grades, evaluations, recommendations for further study and future employment may diminish the student’s ability to consent genuinely to an amorous or sexual relationship. Supervisors assign and evaluate their subordinates’ work, and senior colleagues often provide advice and support to junior colleagues and are involved in decisions concerning promotion and tenure, course and committee assignments, and salary increases. The power disparity inherent in such relationships poses serious moral, ethical, and legal concerns. Further, such a relationship could make it very difficult to defend a subsequent charge of sexual harassment on grounds of mutual consent. The faculty member, camp counselor, supervisor or senior colleague, by virtue of his or her position, will bear a special burden of accountability if charges of sexual harassment arise.

It is the responsibility of the faculty member, supervisor or other staff member who becomes involved in a personal relationship with a student or employee to avoid any conflict of interest, real or perceived, between personal and professional concerns. A faculty or staff member may not participate in the evaluation of a student, colleague or staff member with whom a romantic or sexual relationship exists or has existed. When a supervisory relationship exists, it is the responsibility of the parties involved to take appropriate actions to change the work and reporting relationship to remove the possibility of a conflict of interest. Failure to do so is a violation of professional ethics and may result in disciplinary action.