UR Intimate Relationships Policy
We recommend that the Board of Trustees direct the President and Provost to initiate consideration by the Faculty Senate of amendments to the UR Intimate Relationships Policy so that, in addition to prohibiting faculty members from accepting academic authority over students and post-doctoral fellows with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship, regardless of department, it also flatly prohibits all intimate relationships between faculty and students in the same department. In order to give due consideration to such amendments, the President, Provost, and Faculty Senate should seek the recommendation of the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia and the GSA, and then should recommend appropriate action to the Board of Trustees by April 10, 2018. Input also should be solicited from outside experts and other universities that have adopted such policies.
This recommendation is rooted in our investigation’s findings with respect to Jaeger’s intimate relationships with multiple BCS students. We found that these relationships contributed, at least in part, to making some female graduate students in BCS uncomfortable; in some cases, these women actively avoided pursuing academic opportunities with Jaeger. It also seems clear that the fact of such relationships between Jaeger and BCS students was what most bothered at least Aslin, notwithstanding that UR did not have a policy prohibiting them. DeAngelis also believes that romantic relationships between faculty and students have no proper place in BCS or UR.
The University’s policies did not prohibit these relationships at the relevant times, but did prohibit sexual harassment. Although some factual circumstances might implicate only one of those two policies, Jaeger’s conduct and the Complainants’ allegations implicated both policies and thereby highlighted the potential tension between the two policies-and the acute challenges that can arise when intimate relationships between faculty and students are permitted. While some institutions have navigated those challenges without imposing strict prohibitions, we believe that in light of the University’s experiences in this matter, a bright-line rule would be beneficial. Although the University has strengthened its policies recently, we believe that they can and should be further reinforced as described above.
These amendments, although stringent, would not be out of line with the policies of peer universities. To the contrary, what we recommend is similar to restrictions in other universities’ faculty-student relationship policies. Stanford, for example, prohibits sexual or romantic relationships between faculty members and students where the faculty member “has had, or in the future might reasonably be expected to have, academic responsibility over” the student. This includes faculty members and students in the same “department, program or division.” Stanford also requires that the faculty member notify his or her “supervisor, department chair or dean” about any relationship that is prohibited by this policy. Northwestern also requires that consensual relationships be reported to the department chair. UR’s current policy, on the other hand, does not mandate disclosure but simply states, “Faculty members should err on the side of disclosing a relationship to the Intercessor if there is any doubt about whether they exercise academic authority.”
Northwestern’s policy explains, “the possibility exists that the faculty member may influence evaluation or academic or career advancement of the student even if the faculty member does not directly supervise the graduate/professional student.” Such requirements would have either prohibited Jaeger from dating female students within BCS or required him to disclose his relationships to the University administration. We believe that prohibiting relationships between faculty and students in the same department will help to prevent problematic faculty-student relationships in the future and would better address the concerns described by Northwestern’s policy.