3.4.3. Consensual Relationship Policy

Oglethorpe University encourages the development of collegial and professional relationships among all members of the University community and is committed to a learning and working environment of civility and mutual respect. Faculty carry a special responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards and to avoid any behavior that may appear to undermine this atmosphere of trust and respect and thereby hinder the institution’s educational mission.

The faculty-student relationship is one of trust in the University, and the faculty member has the professional responsibility for being a mentor, educator, and evaluator. Faculty-student romantic, dating, or sexual relationships, even if consensual, interfere with a student’s pursuit of learning and the integrity of the academic environment and are of special concern because of the potential for conflict of interest and/or abuse of power. These types of romantic, dating, or sexual relationships can undermine the fundamental educational purpose of the University and disrupt the workplace and academic environment.

Sexual relationships between faculty members and undergraduate students are inconsistent with the mission of the University and inappropriate because they carry a risk of damaging the student’s educational experience and the faculty member’s career.

The University thus prohibits sexual relationships, even of a consensual nature, between faculty members and currently enrolled students.

Faculty members are strongly advised to exercise their best professional judgment concerning student-faculty relationships and to consider that intimate relations with students, even of a non-sexual nature, can be fraught with difficulties and the appearance of impropriety.

A faculty member who has received non-termination sanction(s) in writing from the provost under this policy may appeal in writing to the review committee (as defined in The Faculty Handbook). Upon receipt of such an appeal, the review committee solicits a letter from the provost to the committee outlining the case for such sanction(s), copied to the faculty member making the appeal. Both the faculty member and the provost may provide supplementary information for the review committee to use in its deliberations in addition to the appeal letter and provost’s letter. The review committee makes a written recommendation about the appeal to the president, whose written decision on that appeal is final. The review committee’s recommendation and the president’s decision are copied to the faculty member making the appeal, his/her division chair, and the provost.

A faculty member who has received a termination sanction from the provost under this policy may appeal via the process outlined in Section III-L (Termination of Appointment or Academic Tenure) of The Faculty Handbook.