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Ethics

Policy on Amorous Relationships (III.A.1)

Volume III: Ethics
Chapter A: Conduct
Issuing Office: Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Responsible Officer: Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Responsible Office: Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Originally Issued: January 1, 2009
Most Recently Revised: November 18, 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Statement of Policy
Reason for Policy
Definitions
Who Should Know This Policy
Related Documents
Contacts
Procedures
Responsibilities
History

STATEMENT OF POLICY

Purdue University is committed to maintaining an environment in which learning and discovery take place in a professional atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Amorous relationships can develop within the University community between faculty, students and staff.

The disparity of power between persons involved in amorous relationships between a student and a faculty member, a graduate teaching or research assistant, or any other Purdue employee who has educational responsibility over the student, supervisor and subordinate, or senior and junior colleagues in the same department or unit makes them susceptible to exploitation. Amorous relationships that occur in the context of educational or employment supervision and evaluation between a student and a faculty member, a graduate teaching or research assistant, or any other Purdue employee who has educational responsibility over the student, or supervisor and subordinate undermine professionalism and hinder the fulfillment of the University’s educational mission. Relationships between faculty and students are particularly susceptible to exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a member of the faculty by a student, as well as the power exercised by faculty in giving grades, approvals, or recommendations for future study and employment, make voluntary consent by the student suspect.

Those who abuse their power in the context of an amorous relationship where there is educational or employment supervision and evaluation violate their duty to the University community. Voluntary consent by the student or subordinate in a romantic or sexual relationship is difficult to determine given the asymmetric nature of the power structure in the relationship. Because of the complex and subtle effects of the power differential in the relationship, the individual with power may perceive the existence of consent that may not exist or not exist at the level perceived by the individual with power. The possibility exists that, if the relationship sours, these individuals may be subject to a claim of sexual harassment.

Amorous relationships may have an effect on others in the course, department or unit. Others may perceive that the student or subordinate in the amorous relationship is favored and afforded undue access and advantage above others in the same course, department or unit. These individuals may perceive the environment created as a result of the amorous relationship to be hostile and/or perceive forward progress and benefits are obtained through engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with the person in power.

Therefore, Purdue University prohibits amorous relationships between a student and any Purdue employee who has educational responsibility over the student, and supervisors and subordinates where there is a supervisory or evaluative relationship between the parties. Individuals engaged in an amorous relationship in violation of this policy are subject to disciplinary action ranging from a written reprimand up to and including termination.

Individuals engaged in an amorous relationship prior to the existence of a supervisory or evaluative relationship within the educational and/or employment context, or who find themselves entering into such a relationship, have a duty to report the existence of the amorous relationship to the department or unit head who must ensure that arrangements are made to sever the supervisory or evaluative relationship between the parties. The parties must abide by the University Policy Concerning Nepotism.

Responsibility for the interpretation and enforcement of this policy rests with the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance.

REASON FOR POLICY

Purdue University is committed to maintaining an environment in which learning and discovery take place in a professional atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Amorous relationships that occur in the context of educational or employment supervision and evaluation between a student and a faculty member, a graduate teaching or research assistant, or any other Purdue employee who has educational responsibility over the student, or supervisor and subordinate undermine professionalism and are disruptive to the educational and work environment. Ultimately, amorous relationships hinder the fulfillment of the University’s educational mission.

DEFINITIONS

Word Definition
Amorous Relationships

Romantic or sexual relationships between two individuals of the opposite or same sex who are not married to each other or in a domestic partnership with each other, and who mutually and consensually understand the relationship to be romantic and/or sexual in nature.

Educational or Employment Supervision and Evaluation

To (A) assess, determine or influence (1) one’s academic or research performance, progress or potential, (2) one’s employment performance, progress or potential, (3) one’s entitlement to or eligibility for any institutionally conferred right, benefit or opportunity; or (B) to oversee, manage or direct one’s academic, research, employment, co-curricular, athletic or other institutionally prescribed activities.

WHO SHOULD KNOW THIS POLICY

  • President
  • Provost
  • Chancellors
  • Vice Presidents
  • Vice Provosts
  • Vice Chancellors
  • Deans
  • Directors/Department Heads/Chairs
  • Faculty
  • All Employees
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • All University Community Members

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Policy on Anti-Harassment (III.C.1)

Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment

Executive Memorandum No. C-37, University Policy Concerning Nepotism

CONTACTS

Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
(765) 49-45830
vpec@purdue.edu

Vice President for Human Resources
(765) 49-47395
hrs@purdue.edu

Director of the Office of Institutional Equity
(765) 49-47253
equity@purdue.edu

PROCEDURES

Concerns related to harassment are governed by the Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Vice President for Ethics and Compliance
Interpretation and Enforcement

HISTORY

November 18, 2011: Policy number changed to III.A.1 (formerly IV.7.1).

July 22, 2011: Related Documents and Contacts sections updated.

January 1, 2009: This Policy supersedes the provision on amorous relationships previously contained in Executive Memorandum No. C-33, Antiharassment Policy, dated September 16, 1994.