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Back to Policy Section II: Faculty
Section II: Faculty

Policy Number: II-3.10(D)

University of Maryland Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students

(Approved by the President )

I. Purpose

The University of Maryland (UMD) strives to create and maintain a supportive, respectful, and inclusive community that empowers each individual to thrive in their scholarly and professional endeavors. This can only be achieved in an environment that fosters trust, civility, and mutual respect. The University is committed to its missions of teaching, research, and service and honors that commitment by preserving the facultystudent relationship and protecting the Student experience.

Faculty have a collective responsibility to support the experience of all Students and nurture Students’ intellectual curiosity. They uphold that commitment by creating an environment that reinforces the highest professional and ethical standards. Relationships between Faculty and Students are an important aspect of a Student’s experience as they learn, do research, and are mentored throughout their time at the University. That relationship should be rooted in trust and based on a commitment to the academic, scholarly, and professional development of all Students.

When situations arise that go beyond the traditional boundaries of the faculty-student relationship, the University is committed to protecting Students’ interests. Faculty have authority and influence over the educational and professional development of Students. This inherent power imbalance makes relationships between Faculty and Students fundamentally unequal. These relationships can lead to a real or perceived exploitation of the power differential and may compromise the educational experience of all Students. While the University is equally committed to protecting Faculty interests regarding academic freedom, freedom of expression, and intellectual inquiry, these are best protected by a common understanding and avoidance of unprofessional relationships. To this end, the restrictions defined in this Policy create boundaries and expectations regarding faculty-student relationships.

II. Definitions

  1. “Educational or Supervisory Authority” means the power to control or influence a Student’s academic experience, achievements, advancement, career and professional development, employment experiences, or extracurricular participation. Duties and activities related to Educational or Supervisory Authority include but are not limited to teaching and instruction, coaching, supervision or advising extracurricular activities, grading, evaluating, mentoring, supervising research, dissertations, or clinical participation, providing recommendations for employment, awards, or fellowships, and participating in decisions on hiring, employment, compensation, promotion, and discipline.
  2. “Consensual Relationships” for the purposes of this Policy means relationships of a romantic, dating, and/or sexual nature entered into with the mutual agreement of both parties. Marriage is excluded from this definition.
  3. “Faculty” for the purposes of this Policy means all individuals with a Faculty title as defined in the University of Maryland Policy on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (II-1.00[A]), as well as staff and graduate assistants with Educational or Supervisory Authority over Students.
  4. “Marriage” for the purposes of this Policy means a union or domestic partnership between individuals as defined by Maryland State law or otherwise recognized by the State of Maryland.
  5. “Student(s)” means an individual(s) enrolled in or auditing a course(s) at the University or participating in a University-sponsored program.
  6. “Unit Head(s)” means the administrator(s) responsible for a department, center, institute, College or School, or a Division to which a Faculty member reports.

III. Policy

  1. The University strongly discourages any Consensual Relationships between Faculty and Students.
  2. Faculty who have or can reasonably expect to have Educational or Supervisory Authority over a Student are prohibited from dating or engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with that Student. In addition to the inherent power imbalance of such relationships, there is the potential for conflicts of interest, coercion, exploitation, and the perception of favoritism and advantage that can compromise the educational and professional development experiences of all Students and the reputation and mission of the University.
  3. Faculty members involved in a Consensual Relationship that is not prohibited by the Policy or a Marriage must disclose the relationship to their Unit Head(s) if the potential for the Faculty member to exercise Educational or Supervisory Authority over a Student arises.
  4. Upon disclosure, Unit Heads must take the necessary steps to ensure that Faculty will not be in a position for the inherent power imbalance to impact the educational and professional development of the Student. These steps may include but are not limited to avoiding the assignment of duties that would allow Faculty to exercise or influence any Educational or Supervisory Authority over the Students with whom they are in a Marriage or Consensual Relationship with that is not prohibited by this Policy.
  5. This Policy does not supersede, replace, or circumvent any other policies at the University. All relationship participants are expected to comply with all University policies and procedures

IV. Applicability

  1. This Policy applies to all Faculty with a Faculty title as defined in the University of Maryland Policy on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (II-1.00[A]), as well as staff and graduate assistants with Educational or Supervisory Authority over Students.
  2. Consensual Relationships and Marriages that pre-date the Faculty member’s appointment at the University or the implementation of this Policy are required to be disclosed in accordance with Section III.C of this Policy

V. Reports by Third Parties

  1. Any member of the campus community who has reason to believe that a Faculty member is in violation of this Policy, is encouraged to report the concern in good faith to the Dean of the College/School in which the Faculty member belongs or through the University’s Compliance Reporting System.
  2. Knowingly making false statements or submitting false reports is prohibited and may be grounds for disciplinary action under other University policies and procedures.

VI. Violations of the Policy

  1. Violations of this Policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or expulsion, in the case of graduate assistants.
  2. Any disciplinary action will be in accordance with the appropriate University policies.

VII. Record Keeping

  1. Unit Head(s) are responsible for maintaining records related to Faculty disclosures of Consensual Relationships and Marriages.
  2. Faculty records must be maintained in accordance with the University’s Records Retention and Disposal Schedule.