Policy on Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationships Between Faculty Members and Students

  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 School’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 School’s mission.

    The School 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 School’s academic mission and should be avoided. 

    In addition, the School 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 the following: course instructor; formal advisor; independent study director; internship coordinator; dissertation, MA, or Honors Thesis committee member; MA or PhD Advisory Committee member; TA/RA supervisor; or similar formal hierarchical relationships.

    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 School 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 (see above). Failure to comply with this policy may result in discipline or dismissal according to the rules appropriate to the individuals involved.