Wildcat Statue

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
Oversight Unit:EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
This policy has a related procedure. Click to view the procedure below.

Purpose

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.

Policy

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.

Definitions

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.


Consensual Relationship

Procedure

In cases where a pre-existing consensual relationship exists, the Equal Opportunity Office will work with the employee and the appropriate administrator/supervisor to remedy any potential conflicts of interest. In situations involving a student, remedies may include but are not limited to: the student transferring to another course, section, seminar, etc. taught by a different faculty member; assigning or transferring the student to another academic advisor; the student dropping a course; and/or using an alternative grader.

In situations involving an employee, remedies may include but are not limited to assigning performance evaluations and other employee assessments to another supervisor/manager, and/or changing supervisory authority.

The procedures will be evaluated as needed or on a periodic basis.

Noncompliance

If a possible violation of this policy occurs, the administrator and/or supervisor shall contact the Equal Opportunity Office. The Equal Opportunity Office will conduct a prompt and thorough inquiry. If it is concluded that the policy has been violated, the Equal Opportunity Office will contact the administrator/supervisor and corrective action will be taken to rectify any potential conflicts of interest. Sanctions may also be imposed against the employees involved.

Employees in violation of this policy may be subject to sanctions up to and including termination of employment.