UPPS 04.04.39 - Consensual Relationships
UPPS No. 04.04.39
Issue No. 4
Effective Date: 3/19/2018
Next Review Date: 10/01/2022 (E4Y)
Sr. Reviewer: Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Equity and Access
It is the policy of Texas State University that employees with direct teaching, supervisory, advisory, or evaluative responsibility over other employees, students, or student employees recognize and respect the ethical and professional boundaries that must exist in such situations. While relationships between consenting adults are a personal matter, they can create potential conflicts in the workplace and in the educational setting. Such relationships also have the potential for exploitation of an employee, student, or student employee and can possibly create professional or academic disadvantages for third parties.
Consensual relationships between employees in positions of authority with their subordinates, including their students, are prohibited unless the person in the position of authority discloses the relationship immediately or as soon as possible. The subordinate person is also encouraged to disclose the relationship; however, disclosure by the subordinate person does not relieve the employee in the position of authority of the duty to report immediately.
The person in the position of authority in these consensual relationships should make the report to his or her immediate supervisor and cooperate in making alternative arrangements. These arrangements may include the reassignment of either party or other actions to change any conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety created because of duties associated with teaching, supervising, advising, evaluating, and grading.
Failure to disclose the relationship immediately, or as soon as possible or failure to cooperate fully in making alternative arrangements may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination for the person in the position of authority.
All parties should comply with policies and laws pertaining to the confidentiality of student and employee records. Persons who violate these policies or laws are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and students of Texas State. As used in this document, the terms “faculty, staff, and students” include individuals serving as interns or as volunteers such as volunteer coaches.
Consensual Relationship – a mutually acceptable, romantic, or sexual relationship between a university employee (including a student employee) with teaching, supervising, advising, evaluating, or grading authority and an employee, student, or student employee who is taught, supervised, advised, evaluated, or graded by that university employee.
Conflict of Interest – Even when there is no actual conflict of interest, a potential conflict of interest or an appearance of impropriety may arise when individuals with the authority and the responsibility to evaluate the work or performance of an employee, student, or student employee initiate, acquiesce to, or engage in an intimate romantic or sexual relationship with that employee, student, or student employee.
- If a consensual relationship exists or begins to develop, the individual in the position of authority must immediately notify his or her immediate supervisor of the relationship and cooperate with that supervisor in making the arrangements necessary to resolve the conflict of interest. Failure of the individual in the position of authority to report the consensual relationship immediately may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITY
- A supervisor who is notified, or becomes aware, of a consensual relationship shall confirm that the consensual relationship exists by meeting with the parties involved and advising that this type of relationship must conform to the guidelines of this document. The supervisor shall work with all parties to alter the conditions that create an actual or potential conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety caused by the relationship. In most instances, providing alternative arrangements for either party will alter the conditions. In providing alternative arrangements, the supervisor must ensure no harm comes to the person in the relationship who holds less power or authority. These alternative arrangements must be documented, kept in the employee’s department file and reported to the vice president in the reporting line of the employee in the position of authority in the relationship.
PROCEDURES FOR FAILURE TO COOPERATE
Employees in positions of authority in these consensual relationships must fully cooperate in efforts to eliminate any conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety and are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination for failure to do so. The university will not presume that the relationship was consensual if the subordinate party complains of sexual harassment related to an undisclosed relationship. Allegations of sexual misconduct will be investigated according to the Texas State University System Sexual Misconduct policy.
The appropriate chair, dean, director, or assistant or associate vice president will provide the details related to Section 05.01 to the vice-president in the reporting line of the employee in the position of authority in the relationship. The vice president in the reporting line shall review the details of the situation and render an appropriate sanction.
PROCEDURE FOR GRIEVANCE OF DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS
- An individual who is disciplined may grieve or appeal using existing university procedures.
QUESTIONS REGARDING THIS POLICY
- The Office of the Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Equity and Access will respond to faculty and staff with questions regarding this policy. The dean of students will respond to students with questions about this policy.
REVIEWERS OF THIS UPPS
Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:
Position Date Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Equity and Access October 1 E4Y TSUS Office of General Counsel October 1 E4Y Associate Vice President for Student Success and Dean of Students October 1 E4Y Chair, Faculty Senate October 1 E4Y Chair, Staff Council October 1 E4Y
This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their official capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.
Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Equity and Access; senior reviewer of this UPPS
Special Assistant to the President