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The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the employment and academic environment is free from real or perceived conflicts of interest when UW-Eau Claire employees, students, and affiliated individuals, in positions of unequal power, are involved in consensual romantic or sexual relationships.
A consensual relationship refers to any relationship, either past or present, which is romantic, physically intimate, or sexual in nature, and to which the parties consent or consented. This includes marriage.
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest exists when there is incompatibility between private/personal interests and official/professional responsibilities.
An instructor includes faculty and academic staff members who serve in instructional roles in relation to students. The instructional context includes: academic instruction, advising, direct or indirect evaluation of a student's work, research collaboration or assistantships, and coaching.
A power differential exists when individuals possess different degrees of power or influence due to their professional or student standing.
Employees include, but are not limited to, administrators, faculty, academic staff, university staff, student staff, graduate assistants, and interns.
Students are individuals enrolled in courses at the university, including online.
Affiliated individuals include, but are not limited to, volunteers, vendors, and contractors. In this policy, all references to employees should also be considered references to affiliated individuals.
It is the policy of University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents that consensual relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances are not appropriate when they occur between (1) an employee of the university and a student over whom the employee has or potentially will have supervisory, advisory, evaluative, or other authority or influence, or (2) an employee of the university and another employee over whom the employee has or potentially will have supervisory, advisory, evaluative, or other authority or influence. Even when negative consequences to the participants do not result, such relationships create an environment charged with potential or perceived conflicts of interest and possible use of academic or supervisory leverage to maintain or promote the relationship. Romantic or sexual relationships that the parties may view as consensual may still raise questions of favoritism, as well as of an exploitative abuse of trust and power.
The following two types of consensual relationships are addressed in this policy: (A) employee with a student, and (B) employee with another employee.
It is a violation of this policy for an instructor to commence a consensual relationship with a student currently under their instruction, and may result in disciplinary action against that employee. If an instructor or other employee fails to meet the requirements for disclosing the relationship with a student or another employee, or fails to cooperate in the actions described above, such a failure constitutes a violation of this policy and may result in disciplinary action taken against that employee. If the employee is also a student, it may result in disciplinary actions under Chapter UWS 14 and/or 17, Wis. Admin. Code.
To report potential violations of this policy, individuals should contact either the Director of Affirmative Action/Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources.
Retaliation against persons who report concerns about potential violations of this policy is prohibited.
Adopted UW-Eau Claire August 2017 pursuant to BOR December 2016 update of RPD 14-8
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