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Consensual Relationship

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Consensual Relationship

Equal Opportunity Office: (906) 227-2420

Date Approved:9-8-2010
Last Revision:11-12-2021
Last Reviewed:11-12-2021
Approved By:President
This policy has a related procedure. Click to view the procedure below.


Relationship interactions between faculty, staff and students at Northern Michigan University are guided by professional ethics, trust, and mutual respect. Some professional relationships have a power differential that may carry risks of conflict of interest, breach of trust and professional ethics, and potential abuse of power.


Employees who are in a position of power or authority in such matters as supervising, evaluating, teaching a course and/or advising shall not engage in a consensual relationship with a student or subordinate. Employees are prohibited from entering a new relationship with a student or an individual whom the employee supervises, is in a position of influence, or has an evaluative relationship.

If a pre-existing consensual relationship exists, the employee in the position of authority must report the relationship to the Equal Opportunity Office. The Equal Opportunity Office will work with the employee and the appropriate administrator/supervisor to remedy any potential conflicts of interest.


For the purpose of this policy the following definitions apply:

1. Employee: All university employees, including graduate assistants and student employees.

2. Consensual relationship: Any dating, romantic, sexual, or marriage relationship.

3. Position of authority or influence:

  • Includes situations in which an individual is responsible for the instruction, supervision, or evaluation of a student for coursework, grades, grants, research funding, academic work, professional development or coaching.

  • Includes situations in which an individual is responsible for the supervision or evaluation of an employee with respect to hiring, performance, compensation, promotion, assignment of duties, professional development, discipline, or termination.

4. Evaluative relationship: The faculty member or supervisor exercises judgement in assessing a student’s or employee’s skills, qualifications, or abilities for the purpose of making such formal determinations as grades, scholarship determinations, award designations, formal advisory recommendations, re-training, promotion or recommendation for continued employment.

The University welcomes and encourages you to report all complaints of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and sexual misconduct.  All complaints or inquiries should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator.  In the event there is a complaint against an executive level administrator or a member of the Board of Trustees, reports may be made directly to the University’s General Counsel, who reports directly to the Board of Trustees, or to the Chair or Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.  All complaints will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken based on the investigation findings, facts, and circumstances.