Policy on Consensual Romatic or Sexual Relationships Between Faculty and Students1

[1] The language and ideas of this policy draw heavily on the similar, successful policies at the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Georgetown University, and Ohio State University.

  1. Terminology

    For the purposes of this policy, the term “faculty,” “faculty member,” or “teaching faculty” refers to all those who teach and/or do research at the University including (but not limited to) tenured and tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, part-time instructors, lecturers, holders of research appointments, graduate students with teaching responsibilities, visiting faculty, and advisors.


    The term “student” refers to a person enrolled at Kent State University in any capacity, including (but not limited to) full-time or part-time; undergraduate or graduate; for-credit or not-for-credit; or degree or non-degree.

  2. Policy

    The Department’s educational mission is promoted by professionalism in faculty/student relationships, and professionalism is fostered by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Actions of faculty members and students that harm this atmosphere—which occurs when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their authority—undermine professionalism and hinder fulfillment of the Department’s educational mission.


    The Department strongly believes that a romantic and/or sexual relationship between a student and a faculty member—even if such a relationship appears consensual—undermines the Department’s academic mission and should be avoided.  In addition, the Department imposes the following formal restrictions:


    Romantic and/or sexual relationships, and the pursuit thereof, between faculty members and graduate or undergraduate students are prohibited whenever the faculty member has direct professional responsibility for or authority over the student.  Positions of professional responsibility or authority include course instructor; formal advisor; independent study director; internship coordinator; dissertation, MA, or Honors Thesis committee member; MA or PhD Advisory Committee member; Graduate or Undergraduate Coordinator; TA/RA supervisor; or similar formal hierarchical relationship. 


    Furthermore, no faculty member may pressure, cajole, or otherwise coerce an undergraduate student to avoid a hierarchical professional relationship (e.g., taking a faculty member’s course) in order to pursue a romantic and/or sexual relationship.


    Finally, while the Department does not expressly forbid them, romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty and graduate or undergraduate students at Kent State are also discouraged when no clear professional, hierarchical relationship between the faculty and student exists.


  3. Sanctions

    Failure to comply with this policy may result in discipline or dismissal according to the rules appropriate to the individuals involved.