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Relationships between Faculty and Students

Significant problems can arise when there is an intimate personal relationship between an instructor and a student, particularly where the instructor has a supervisory role over the student.

Because of the power imbalance that exists, a romantic or sexual relationship with a student that appears to be consensual may actually be unwanted. Students may have difficulty communicating freely that they do not want such a relationship, or that they want the relationship to end, because of concern over the impact it may have on their academic progress.

Students must not have to deal with the pressure of coercion caused by an inappropriate act or actions by a faculty member. Students who feel uncomfortable about the overtures or actions of a faculty member - whether or not their current instructor or direct supervisor - should speak with the Sexual Harassment Advisor about it.

Behaviors that sometimes cause concern and should be avoided include:

  • Social invitations made to an individual student (for coffee, dinner, concert, etc.)
  • invitations to the instructor's home when no one else is present
  • Gifts
  • Proposals to share accommodation (conferences, research trips, etc.)
  • Hugs, kisses or other physical gestures
  • Questions, discussions and other perceived intrusions of a personal nature