Conflict of Interest Regarding Evaluations and Educational Experiences with Student Relatives

To avoid the appearance of favoritism that may result when students engage in formal educational experiences with relatives, and to ensure that students are treated fairly, certain procedures must be followed.

  • Credit-bearing classes: faculty may teach relatives in their classes. In such instances, another faculty member must grade the papers/exams and assign a final grade for the course. The instructor and the chair of the department will determine the identity of the other faculty member.
  • Teaching assistants: students are not permitted to TA for a faculty relative’s course. Students are permitted to TA for classes in which a relative is a student, but this relationship must be made clear to the instructor of the course so that duties may be appropriately assigned to ensure the TA does not evaluate the student relative.
  • Research: students are not permitted to conduct research for credit under the direct or indirect supervision of a faculty relative*. 
  • Formal evaluations: faculty may not be involved in any formal evaluation of a relative. This includes but is not limited to: admissions; progress evaluations; honors or thesis committees; selection of the student for any departmental, college or university awards.

A faculty member or other institutional official must recuse him/herself from any discussion or vote relating to a matter where there is a potential for or the existence or appearance of a conflict of interest and will state publicly that there is a personal conflict.

For the purposes of this policy, a relative is considered to be anyone with whom the faculty member has a close, personal relationship, such as a spouse or partner, child or grandchild, parent or grandparent, sibling, or a spouse, partner or child of any of the foregoing.

Bias in Evaluations Due to Relationships

Arts, Sciences and Engineering expects both faculty and students to avoid situations where a faculty/student personal or family relationship could bias evaluations or teaching situations, or could create the appearance of bias. In case of doubt about such a situation, undergraduate students should contact the Dean of the College, and graduate students should contact their Director of Graduate Studies, and the faculty member should contact his or her department chair. Those persons have the authority to decide whether there is a conflict or appearance of one, and how the situation will be managed. The decision may be appealed to the Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering or the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, as appropriate.

The school views this issue as a matter of professionalism, and all suspected violations of this policy will be reviewed by the Dean of the Faculty or the Dean’s delegate.

* Note that students who are employees are covered under the following University policy.

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