Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships


In General

There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions of authority, and parties in such a relationship assume those risks. In the Gettysburg College context, such positions include (but are not limited to) teacher and student, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, advisor and advisee, coach and athlete, and the individuals who supervise the day-to-day student living environment and student residents. Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, 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. They may, moreover, be less consensual than the individual whose position confers power or authority believes. The relationship is likely to be perceived in different ways by each of the parties to it, especially in retrospect.

Moreover, such relationships may harm or injure others in the academic or work environment. Relationships in which one party is in a position to review the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds for complaint by third parties when that relationship gives undue access or advantage, restricts opportunities, or creates a perception of these problems. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.

Where such a relationship exists, the person in the position of greater authority or power will bear the primary burden of accountability, and must ensure that he or she - and this is particularly important for faculty and any other employee serving as a teacher in the classroom - does not exercise any supervisory or evaluative function over the other person in the relationship. Where such recusal is required, the recusing party must also notify his or her supervisor, department chair or dean in writing, so that such chair, dean or supervisor can exercise his or her responsibility to evaluate the adequacy of the alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangements to be put in place. The chair, dean or supervisor must implement the alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangement. Employees must notify the Human Resources Office in writing when recusal is required.

The responsibility for recusal and notification rests with the person in the position of greater authority or power. Failure to comply with these recusal and notification requirements is a violation of this policy, and therefore grounds for discipline.


With Students

At a college, the role of a faculty or staff member is multifaceted, including serving as intellectual guide, teacher, counselor, mentor and advisor; the faculty and staff member's influence and authority extend far beyond the classroom or work place. Consequently, the College believes that a sexual or romantic relationship between a faculty or staff member, and a student, even where consensual and whether or not the student would otherwise be subject to supervision or evaluation by the faculty or staff member, is inconsistent with the proper role of the faculty or staff member, and should be avoided. Gettysburg College therefore very strongly discourages such relationships.

Amorous, dating, or sexual relationships between faculty or staff members and students are impermissible when the faculty or staff member has professional responsibility for the student. Voluntary consent by the student in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamental nature of the relationship. Moreover, other students may be affected by such behavior, because it places the faculty member or staff member in a situation to favor or advance one student's interest to the potential detriment of others. Therefore, it is a violation of college policy for a faculty or staff member to engage in an amorous, dating, or sexual relationship with a student whom he/she instructs, teaches, evaluates, supervises, or advises, or over whom he/she is in a situation to exercise authority in any way.


With other employees

As in the situations referenced above, the College believes that sexual or romantic relationships between faculty and staff members employed within the same department, even where consensual and whether or not the faculty or staff members would otherwise be subject to supervision or evaluation by the faculty or staff member, is inconsistent with the proper role of the faculty or staff member, and should be avoided. Gettysburg College therefore very strongly discourages such relationships.

Amorous, dating, or sexual relationships between faculty and staff members are impermissible when the faculty or staff member has supervisory or evaluative responsibility for the other. Voluntary consent by the faculty or staff member in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamental nature of employment relationships. Moreover, other faculty and staff members may be affected by such behavior, because it places the faculty member or staff member with the supervisory or evaluative power in a situation to favor or advance one faculty or staff member's interest to the potential detriment of others. Therefore, it is a violation of college policy for a faculty or staff member to engage in an amorous, dating, or sexual relationship with a faculty or staff member, whom he/she instructs, teaches, evaluates, supervises, or advises, or over whom he/she is in a situation to exercise employment authority in any way.

Where such a relationship exists by virtue of marriage or partnership within the same department, the person in the position of greater authority or power will bear the primary burden of accountability, and must ensure that he or she does not exercise any supervisory or evaluative function over the other person in the relationship. Where such recusal is required, the recusing party must also notify his or her supervisor, department chair or dean in writing, so that such chair, dean or supervisor can exercise his or her responsibility to evaluate the adequacy of the alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangements to be put in place. The chair, dean or supervisor must implement the alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangement. Employees must notify the Human Resources Office in writing when recusal is required. Faculty members must notify the Provost's Office in writing when recusal is required.

The responsibility for recusal and notification rests with the person in the position of greater authority or power. Failure to comply with these recusal and notification requirements is a violation of this policy, and therefore grounds for discipline.


Responsibility

The College Life Office will respond to issues arising from this policy involving students. The Provost's Office will respond to issues arising from this policy involving faculty members and administrators within the division of the Provost. The Human Resources Office will respond to issues arising from this policy involving other administrators and staff members.