University of Michigan
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July 22, 2019

Policy prohibits faculty, others from romantic relationships with learners

February 18, 2019

Policy prohibits faculty, others from romantic relationships with learners

Faculty members at the University of Michigan are prohibited from having romantic or sexual relationships with undergraduate students on any of the three U-M campuses following significant revisions to the university’s policy on faculty-student relationships.

The new Standard Practice Guide 601.22: Prohibitions Regarding Sexual, Romantic, Amorous and/or Dating Relationships Between Teachers and Learners is informed by the recommendations put forth to President Mark Schlissel by a working group consisting of faculty from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.

In addition to prohibiting such relationships between faculty and undergraduates, under the new policy, all teachers — defined as faculty, graduate student instructors and undergraduate students responsible for the delivery of course content — are prohibited from having sexual, romantic, amorous and/or dating relationships with any student in a class, lab, online, field or other setting in which they have academic or supervisory authority over the student.

Additionally, faculty are prohibited from having sexual, romantic, amorous and/or dating relationships with any graduate or professional student in the same discipline or academic program as the faculty member, or over whom the faculty member had, has or might reasonably be expected to have academic or supervisory authority.

The policy took effect Monday and applies on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.

According to the policy, the teacher-student relationship lies at the foundation of the educational process and faculty members have a responsibility to avoid any apparent or actual conflict between professional responsibilities and personal relationships with students.

“Maintenance of an environment of trust, openness, civility and respect that enables each person to reach their full potential is at the core of our mission as educators at the University of Michigan. It is incumbent on our faculty to nurture the advancement and pursuit of knowledge, which result in lifelong professional mentorships and service to our society,” says Provost Martin Philbert.

The updates are based on recommendations outlined in the report from the working group established last fall by the provosts on all three campuses.

The working group reviewed similar policies at more than 40 peer institutions, including private and public institutions. The new policy brings U-M in alignment with many peer institutions, most of which also limit or prohibit faculty-student relationships.

It applies to all those at the university who teach, supervise, evaluate or have grading authority over students, including regular and supplemental instructional faculty, research faculty, graduate student instructors and undergraduate students responsible for the delivery of course content.

The policy also applies to faculty relationships with non-degree students, visiting students and postdoctoral research fellows.

Violations of the policy may lead to discipline, up to and including separation from the university.

In very rare circumstances, exceptions may be made and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

This is the first revision to the faculty-student relationship policy since it was developed in 2004.

Currently, the university’s companion policy related to Employee-Student Relationships — SPG 601.22-1 — is being reviewed by University Human Resources.