University announces policy on student-faculty relations
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09
The University has released a new policy on faculty and staff relations with students, according to an email from University President Frederick Lawrence to the Brandeis community.
The policy prohibits romantic or sexual relationships between instructors and any student whom he or she “instructs, evaluates, supervises, advises or over whom he/she is in a position to exercise authority in any way.”
“The pedagogical relationship between Instructor and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and fair evaluation,” reads the policy.
The policy also applies to student teaching assistants with respect to students that they instruct or advise.
According to Associate Vice President of Communications Bill Burger, the policy was enacted as part of a regular review of University policies.
In an email to the Justice, he said that “the new policy … addresses situations that had not been addressed explicitly in previous policies and we felt it was time to do so.”
The policy opens by saying that “Brandeis University is committed to maintaining a fair and professional work environment in which members of the faculty and staff carry out their responsibilities in a way that is both respectful to those over whom they have authority and conducive to the development of a just and flourishing academic community.”
It applies to staff members as well as faculty, and provides the same limitations for relationships between students and staff, saying “no Staff member shall enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student for whom that Staff member has responsibilities of advising, mentoring, evaluating, coaching or supervising.”
Burger also said that the University “takes under consideration recommendations of college and university associations and best practices of other institutions.” A document on the University website describing the process and background of this new policy lists several universities whose policies were reviewed in the development of this one.
They include Brown University, Tufts University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College and Northeastern University, among several others across the country.
The policy was developed by Profs. Marion Smiley (PHIL), Craig Blocker (PHYS), Melissa Stimell (LGLS), Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Michaele Whelan and the University’s legal counsel Steve Locke.
None of the creators of the policy were made available for comment by the University.
The policy also says that violations may result in disciplinary action and that cases involving faculty will “go to the appropriate Dean and will follow Faculty Handbook procedures.”
Burger added in his email that “No student, faculty or staff member at Brandeis should ever be the subject of unwanted advances, feel pressured into entering into a relationship with another person on campus [or] be in a position where one party in a relationship has authority or power over the other.”