Sexual or romantic relationships, as defined herein, often result in a loss of objectivity, and further create a conflict of interest in any evaluative, supervisory, instructional or other professional role because of the unequal power dynamic.
Sexual or romantic relationships shall not exist between Mohawk Valley Community College employees (including College Affiliates and their employees, as well as College Affiliated Board members), and Mohawk Valley Community College students or employees over whom they have, or might reasonably be expected to have, an evaluative, supervisory, or instructional relationship without prior disclosure to the appropriate authorities so that remediate actions may be taken, and alternate arrangements put in place to address the power dynamic situation.
- “College Affiliated Board” is defined herein as any board or panel which has or exercises any form of a fiduciary responsibility with respect to Mohawk Valley Community College.
- “Employee” is defined herein as any person receiving remuneration from Mohawk Valley Community College.
- “Professional Responsibility” for a student is defined herein as a level of responsibility that includes, but is not limited to: any academic matters including teaching, counseling, grading, advising, evaluating, hiring, supervision, coaching, making decisions or recommendations that confer benefits such as admissions, registration, financial aid, awards, remuneration, or other academic opportunities.
- “Sexual or Romantic Relationship” is defined herein as any intimate, sexual, or amorous relationship. A single sexual encounter is considered a sexual relationship under this policy. Conversely, the relationship does not have to include physical intimacy if a romantic/amorous relationship exists, and the behaviors of the individuals extend beyond the reasonable boundaries of a collegial or professional relationship.
- “Student” is defined herein to include persons currently registered for College credit/equivalent courses at Mohawk Valley Community College, either full or part-time. The status of student becomes null and void upon withdrawal from the institution or any administrative revocation of this standing.
- “Supervising an Employee” is defined herein as supervising in an employment setting, including hiring, evaluating, assigning work, making decisions or recommendations that confer benefits such as promotions, wage adjustments, or performing other functions that might affect employment opportunities.
Existing or pre-existing relationships between faculty (or staff with “professional responsibility” for a student or students, as defined above) and any student are prohibited unless disclosed in accordance with this policy. Such relationships involve issues of student vulnerability and have the potential of coercion. Conflicts of interest or perceived conflicts of interest may arise when a faculty or staff member is required to evaluate the work or make personal or academic decisions with respect to a student with whom he or she is in a romantic relationship. Should the relationship end in a non-amicable manner, the relationship may lead to charges of, and possible liability for, sexual misconduct. Furthermore, even if the relationship continues and even thrives, issues may arise that can call into question the credibility of the evaluative and grading used with respect to the student in question, which may result in questions of accuracy concerning the grade received.
Many of the concerns about consensual romantic relationships between faculty/staff and students also apply to relationships between supervisors and employees they supervise, as such is defined above.
Human Resources must be made aware of existing or pre-existing sexual or romantic relationships to eliminate any unequal power dynamic. This disclosure requirement is in addition to any disclosures required under current MVCC policies, including, but not limited to, Board of Trustees policy #2003, which requires disclosure of familial relationships in evaluative, supervisory or instructional situations.
For relationships between students and faculty or staff, the faculty or staff member is required to disclose the relationship as soon as one exists. For relationships between faculty and staff members, both parties to the relationship are required to disclose the relationship as soon as one exists. Such disclosure will be made through Human Resources.
Students shall not be required to disclose a relationship between themselves and a faculty or staff member, but such disclosure is strongly encouraged. A notation about this policy will be placed into the Student Handbook advising the same. Again, the concern for students is that these relationships may compromise academic integrity and the credibility of the grading process.
When such a relationship is disclosed, alternative supervisory or teaching roles shall be created to ensure that any activity or decision that appears to reward, penalize, or otherwise affect the learning environment of the student or the employment status of the employee is corrected.
Violations of this policy will be regarded as unprofessional, inappropriate conduct and will be addressed by the College in accordance with the appropriate disciplinary processes and procedures in the collective bargaining agreement or other applicable contractual agreements.