VII - 2.15 - Policy on Consensual Relationships
Bowie State University strives to create and maintain a supportive, respectful, and inclusive community that empowers each individual to thrive in their scholarly and professional endeavors. This can only be achieved in an environment that fosters trust, civility, and mutual respect. Situations that go beyond the traditional boundaries and established purposes of University enrollment and/or employment create the risks of a conflict of interest, sexual harassment and negative affect upon the reputation of the University.
Applicability & Scope
This policy applies to all members of the Bowie State University community including students, faculty and staff. The restrictions defined in this policy create boundaries and expectations regarding .any relationship in which a power differential may exist due to the enrollment and/or employment of the individuals involved, i.e. faculty-student, staff-subordinate, etc.
Employees:Employees include, but are not limited to, administrators, faculty, academic staff, university staff, student staff, graduate assistants, and interns.
Students: Students are individuals enrolled in courses at the university, including online.
Affiliated Individuals: Affiliated individuals include, but are not limited to, volunteers, vendors, and contractors with whom the University has regular contact or business. In this policy, all references to employees should also be considered references to affiliated individuals.
Educational or Supervisory Authority: The power to control or influence a student’s academic experience, achievement, advancement, career and professional development, employment experiences or extracurricular participation.
Consensual Relationship: Relationships, past or present, of a romantic, dating, and/or sexual nature entered into with the mutual and voluntary agreement of both parties. For the purpose of this Policy, marriage as a legal union is excluded from this definition.
Power differential: The inherently greater or enhanced power or influence that exists for a person of position or authority as compared to a student or staff member with whom they are in relationship, which may exist regardless of their proximity in reporting structure, academic or extra-curricular activity programs.
- The University strongly discourages any consensual relationships between faculty and students, and staff and students, and staff with supervisory authority with those without similar authority. Where a complaint of a violation of this policy is filed and a power differential exists between two individuals in a relationship, a presumption of sexual harassment may follow.
- Faculty who have or can reasonably expect to have Educational or Supervisory Authority over a student are prohibited from dating or engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with that student. In addition to the inherent power imbalance of such relationships, there is the potential for conflicts of interest, coercion, exploitation, and the perception of favoritism and advantage that can compromise the educational and professional development experiences of all students and the reputation and mission of the University.
- Faculty members involved in a consensual relationship that is not prohibited by the policy or a marriage must disclose the relationship to their Department Chair.
- Should a person involved in an existing relationship with a faculty or staff person enroll in the University, the faculty or staff person must recuse themselves from an academic relationship with that person. In the event the recusal results in the denial of access to an academic program, the University will arrange an appropriate accommodation. The accommodation may include providing an exception to this Policy to permit the student access. Any accommodation will be within the discretion of the Provost or designee. Disclosure of this relationship is required as described in subsection B.
- Upon disclosure, the Department Chair must take the necessary steps to ensure that faculty will not be in a position for the inherent power imbalance to impact the educational and professional development of the student. These steps may include but are not limited to avoiding the assignment of duties that would allow faculty to exercise or influence any Educational or Supervisory Authority over the students with whom they are in a Marriage or Consensual Relationship with that is not prohibited by the Policy.
- Department Chairs are required to report such disclosures to the Office of Human Resources.
- The University strongly discourages any consensual relationships between individuals in a leadership, management or supervisory position and their subordinates. Where a complaint of a violation of this policy is filed and a power differential exists between two individuals in a relationship, a presumption of sexual harassment may follow.
- Staff who have or can reasonably expect to have Supervisory Authority over a subordinate are prohibited from dating or engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with that subordinate. In addition to the inherent power imbalance of such relationships, there is the potential for conflicts of interest, coercion, exploitation, and the perception of favoritism and advantage that can compromise the professional development experiences of the department and the reputation and mission of the University.
- Staff members involved in a consensual relationship that is not prohibited by the policy or a marriage must disclose the relationship to their Supervisor if the potential for the Staff member to exercise supervisory authority over said subordinate arises. Further, staff members must disclose a relationship with another staff member to their Supervisor where a lateral working relationship or Supervisory Authority results from a change in position or department (i.e. internal transfer or acceptance of an offer in a new department).
- Should a person involved in an existing relationship with a staff person become employed by the University, disclosure of that relationship must follow where applicable within this policy.
- Upon disclosure, the Supervisor must take the necessary steps to ensure that staff will not be in a position for the inherent power imbalance to impact the professional development of the subordinate. These steps may include but are not limited to avoiding the assignment of duties that would allow staff to exercise or influence any Supervisory Authority over the subordinate with whom they are in a Marriage or Consensual Relationship with that is not prohibited by the Policy.
- Supervisors are required to report disclosures to the Office of Human Resources
Reports by Third Parties
Any member of the campus community who has reason to believe that a faculty or staff member is in violation of this policy, is encouraged to report the concern in good faith to the Office of Human Resources.
A violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action including dismissal for unprofessional conduct. Policies set forth in the BSU Faculty Handbook, will apply to Faculty who violate this Policy. Disciplinary actions against graduate students, professional staff, and academic administrators who violate this Policy are governed by the disciplinary rules and policies applicable to such persons.
VI-1.60-University System of Maryland Policy on Sexual Harassment.
VI-1.40-BSU Policy on Sexual Harassment and other Sexual Misconduct.
Effective Date: 12/8/22