Improper Relationships Between Students and Employees

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Policy Code: 
Approval Authority: 
Policy Type: 
University Policy
Policy Owner: 
Administration and Finance
Responsible Office: 
Human Resources - 828.251.6605

I. Purpose

Amorous relations between students and employees of UNC Asheville with whom they also have an academic, mentoring or evaluative relationship are fraught with potential for exploitation. The respect and trust accorded to a university employee by a student, as well as the power exercised by the employee in an academic or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect. Even when both parties initially have consented, the development of an amorous relationship renders both the university employee and the institution vulnerable to possible later allegations of sexual harassment in light of the significant power differential that exists between employees and students.

Employees are encouraged to foster wholesome and appropriate relationships with colleagues, students and staff. Students tend to hold the whole academic profession (faculty, administrators, and staff) in high esteem and as such, invest extraordinary trust and respect in its members. Only by upholding high standards will university personnel be able to meet their collective obligation to each other.

II. Scope

This policy applies to UNC Asheville’s EHRA faculty and non-faculty, SHRA staff, adjuncts and temporary employees.

III. Definitions

1. Amorous relationship: An amorous relationship exists when, without benefit of marriage, two persons as consenting partners (a) have a sexual union or (b) engage in a romantic partnering or courtship that may or may not have been consummated sexually.

2. Related by blood, law or marriage: Means (a) parent and child (b) brother and sister grandparent and grandchild (d) aunt and/or uncle and niece and/or nephew (e) first cousins (f) step-parent and step-child (g) husband and wife (h) parents-in-law and children-in-law (i) brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law (j) guardian and ward.

3. Evaluate or supervise: To assess, determine or influence (1) one's academic performance, progress or potential or (2) one's entitlement to or eligibility for any institutionally conferred right, benefit or opportunity or (3) to manage, oversee or direct one's academic or other institutionally prescribed activities.

IV. Policy

It will be considered misconduct for a UNC Asheville employee, incident to any instructional, research, administrative or other University employment responsibility or authority to evaluate or supervise any enrolled student of the institution with whom he or she has an amorous relationship or to whom he or she is related by blood, law or marriage.

It will be considered misconduct for a UNC Asheville employee to engage in sexual activity with any enrolled student of the institution, other than his or her spouse, who is a minor below the age of eighteen years.

Violations of this policy shall be considered unacceptable personal misconduct in accordance with policies and procedures for the class of employment, of which the affected employee is a member. Any sanction imposed for a violation of this policy may be imposed only in accord with the disciplinary procedure applicable to the faculty or staff member’s category of employment. Recommended sanctions may include a letter of reprimand, suspension (with or without pay), diminishment in rank, or discharge from employment, depending upon the seriousness of the offense. A faculty or staff member found to have violated the policy may agree voluntarily to the imposition of an appropriate sanction and the complaint will be resolved upon imposition of the sanction. If the faculty or staff member does not voluntarily agree to imposition of a sanction, the procedures governing discharge from employment or the imposition of serious sanctions applicable to his/her category of employment will be observed.