|Responsible University Administrator:||President|
|Responsible Officer:||Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity|
|Current Revision Date:||06/04/19|
|Next Review Date:||06/04/23|
|End of Policy Date:||NA|
The University of Southern Mississippi recognizes that special problems can arise in a consensual relationship between individuals who are employed on campus and/or attend classes on campus. This policy addresses those concerns.
Sexual misconduct is inconsistent with the standards and ideals of our community and will not be tolerated. The University is committed to fostering an academic, work, and living environment that is free from all forms of harassment, including sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Additionally, federal law views sexual misconduct and sexual assault as forms of sexual harassment prohibited under Title VII and Title IX. This policy assists the University to comply with federal and state legal mandates and University policies in relation to such misconduct.
This policy is required for the effective communication of university policy regarding consensual relationships
|employee||Any person employed by The University of Southern Mississippi as faculty or staff, full-time or part-time. This definition includes graduate assistants and adjunct faculty.|
|student||Any person enrolled full time or part-time in any academic program associated with The University of Southern Mississippi.|
|consensual relationship||A sexual and/or romantic relationship between two persons who voluntarily enter into such a relationship.|
There are special problems in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals where one party possesses direct academic, administrative, supervisory, evaluative, counseling, or extracurricular authority over the other party.
Such positions include, but are not limited to, teacher and student or assistant, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, mentor and trainee, advisor and advisee, counselor and client, teaching assistant and student, coach and athlete, and the individuals who supervise the day-to-day student living environment and student residents.
A unique problem occurs when a consensual relationship takes place between a teacher and the student is enrolled in one of the teacher's courses, or when the student is likely to be enrolled in such a course in the future. Such relationships are of significant concern to The University because of the ethical and administrative problems they can pose.
Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, harassment and bias, such relationships may undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided, and the trust inherent particularly in the teacher-student context.
There are numerous ways in which a consensual romantic or sexual relationship can create problems within the university community. For example:
No university employee shall enter into or maintain any romantic or sexual relationships with students or with employees over whom they exercise any academic, administrative, supervisory, evaluative, counseling or extracurricular authority or influence.
Similarly, no university employee shall exercise any academic, administrative, supervisory, evaluative, counseling or extracurricular authority over any student or employee with whom that employee had previously been involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Teaching professionals in particular are under a special obligation to preserve the integrity of their relationships with students, and therefore are expected to maintain at all times the highest level of professionalism with students, whether or not any real or perceived authority over the student exists.
Should an employee become involved in such a relationship, all parties to the relationship have a duty to immediately report the relationship to the next supervisory level. Supervisory personnel shall take steps to promptly resolve any conflicts in such a manner as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety:
a. Faculty: If a student is not enrolled in any of the faculty member's courses when the relationship begins, the student shall not be eligible to take any future course with the faculty member even after the relationship has ended, and it is the duty of the faculty member to take all steps necessary to assure that the student is not so enrolled.
b. Counseling: If a consensual romantic or sexual relationship begins during an official counselor/client relationship, the counselor shall immediately terminate the relationship and never again enter into a counseling relationship with the client.
Employees who enter into or remain in a romantic or sexual relationship where an authority differential exists and who do not report it, or who fail to cooperate in efforts to remove the conflict, or who are otherwise in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Willful violations of the policy may be considered "gross misconduct" per our progressive discipline policies.
NOTE: Non-consensual relationships are addressed in the university’s sexual harassment policy. Marital and family relationships are addressed in the university’s nepotism policy.
The Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes
11/01/11: Formatted for Institutional Policies website.02/19/13: Formatted for template. Minor editing of punctuation and word usage throughout.