Boston College has revised its Consensual Relationship Policy, which prohibits romantic or sexual relationships between members of the community who are associated through supervisory, teaching, advisory, or evaluative roles.
The policy revision explicitly outlines prohibited conduct and the reporting and response requirements for all members of the BC community in an effort, administrators say, to foster an environment that is respectful, fair, and free of harassment and discrimination.
Specifically, the policy prohibits any faculty member, employee, graduate assistant, or undergraduate teaching assistant from engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship, or in any romantic or sexual conduct, with any individual whom they supervise, teach, advise, evaluate, counsel, or coach.
Furthermore, the University prohibits any faculty member or other employee from engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship, or in any romantic or sexual conduct, with any student currently enrolled as an undergraduate at Boston College.
The University also prohibits any faculty member or employee from engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship, or in any romantic or sexual conduct, with a graduate student who is enrolled in any academic program or department in which the faculty member participates.
The policy states that any member of the University community who becomes aware of any such prohibited conduct should report it to the vice president of human resources or his or her designee, if the individual involved is a staff member; or to the provost, or his or her designee, if the involved individual is a faculty member, graduate assistant, or other student. The responsible office, working with other University administrators, will investigate the report and determine the appropriate response. Members of the University community who violate this policy by engaging in a relationship or prohibited conduct with a subordinate student or employee will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
Administrators said that the policy revision is intended to be an addition to existing University policies, including the University Statues, the Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and the Professional Standards and Business Conduct Policy.
If any complaint of harassment or discrimination is made, they noted, the existence of a consensual relationship in violation of this policy will not be an acceptable defense in a University process or response.
Administrators also stated that this policy is not intended to apply to relationships between spouses in cases where the spouse of a faculty member or employee enrolls as a student in a University course or program, or relationships between undergraduate students, provided in each case that the relationship does not involve individuals who are otherwise associated through supervisory, teaching, advisory or evaluative roles.
“Several high-profile incidents at colleges and universities nationwide have caused us to reexamine our policies to make sure they provide the appropriate protections for all members of our community,” said Vice President of Human Resources David Trainor. “Our goal remains to foster an environment that respects the rights and dignity of all employees, free from harassment in any form.”
“As peer institutions revise their policies, it is important that we do to same to provide clarity on this issue,” said Billy Soo, vice provost for faculties. “These efforts will help us to maintain a safe work environment for all faculty and staff.”
University Communications | May 2019