Questions about this policy may be directed to: The Office of the Dean of the College
The general aims of an educational institution and the particular values of Haverford College as a residential educational community of full-time undergraduate students are compromised by sexual relationships between employees of the College and students. *
Educational mission: Sexual relationships between employees and students can have a negative effect upon students’ free pursuit of their academic courses of study.
Power: Faculty, administrators, and other employees possess an authority over students, which, if inappropriately wielded, may be detrimental to the atmosphere of trust upon which the community and classroom rely. The asymmetry in power is not absolute or invariable, but it always exists.
Consent: Given this power differential, sexual relationships between students and employees of the College are likely to put claims of consent in question. It is often difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of the faculty or staff. It is also difficult for a person in a position of authority to be certain that the student’s consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In the case of instructors, coaches and some administrators, the respect and trust accorded by the students, as well as the power exercised by the employee in giving grades, academic advice, evaluations, recommendations or a prominent position in an organization or on a team, greatly diminish the student’s actual freedom of choice concerning a sexual relationship.
Conflicts of interest and third party consequences: The possible harm can extend beyond the involved student to other students. Whether or not there is true consent (which may not be clear to others), knowledge of an intimate relationship may interfere with the ability of other students to work comfortably and effectively. Sexual relations often create or appear to create general conflicts of interest and the fear from third parties of unfair treatment. Sexual relationships between College employees and students can be detrimental to the ideals of a community based on trust and to the creation of an environment where favoritism and the appearance of favoritism are absent.
Faculty and staff protection: Students too have formal and informal powers that may affect the careers of College employees. Because of the power differential, persons in positions of authority such as members of the faculty or staff may find it difficult (should the relationship end in acrimony) to prove that the relationship was fully consensual.
Sexual relationships between employees of Haverford College and undergraduate students in the Haverford/Bryn Mawr community are unacceptable because they interfere with the educational mission of the College and threaten the climate of trust, concern, and respect to which the Haverford College community has always been committed. Students and employees are expected to maintain professional, non-sexual relations. If it becomes known that an employee has violated this policy, the employee’s accountability is not reduced even if the relationship was begun consensually or was not initiated by the employee. It is the employee’s institutional responsibility to deal in a professional manner with such situations when they arise.
Any member of the Haverford College community who is troubled by an apparent sexual relationship between an employee of the College and an undergraduate student in the bi-college community should contact an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, the Dean or the Provost who will refer the matter to an EEOO. The officer will make informal and confidential inquiries about the report, and if it appears well grounded, attempt to resolve the matter directly with the individual(s) involved. Should the problem resist informal solution, the officer will, after seeking the assistance and advice of a second officer, the Provost or the Dean, report the matter to the President who will convene a panel using a procedure modeled on that used for handling allegations of sexual harassment as outlined in the faculty, administrative/professional, and staff handbooks.
Exceptions and classifications
At present, recent graduates who are employed by the College are counseled about their interaction with students in a number of areas. While they will not be required to terminate an existing relationship with a student, they will be made aware of this policy, advised to observe its spirit in their conduct, and be expected not to initiate any new relationship.
A group consisting of students, faculty, and deans has considered the issue of sexual relationships between student teaching assistants and other students in their class or section. TA’s and students are in positions of unequal power, and this asymmetry may render sexual relationships problematical for the students involved and for other students in the class. While the College does not attempt to regulate dating among its students, TA’s are strongly encouraged to take these implications into account and to recuse themselves from particular assignments when necessary.
(Effective July 1, 1996)
* Many colleges and universities are wrestling with this issue and have developed statements that make explicit the rationale for policies directed at either prohibiting sexual relations between faculty or all employees and students or warning members of campus communities about the dangers such relations may involve. This statement draws freely on selections from the documents developed by some of them that would seem to apply to Haverford’s circumstances and concerns.