Consensual Relationship Policy
Authority: Chief Diversity Officer
Date Enacted or Revised: Enacted June 2016
There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions of authority. On a university campus, such unequal positions can occur between a teacher and a student, between a coach and a player, and between a supervisor and an employee. These relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individuals involved or by third parties who may be affected—directly or indirectly—by the relationship. The relationship may also result in negative consequences to third parties. For example, students in a class taught by a professor involved in a romantic relationship with one of the students may believe that the favored student will receive a higher grade than he or she would otherwise deserve. Players on a team where one member of the team is involved in a romantic relationship with a coach or administrator may believe that the favored player will receive better treatment in practice and during games. Likewise, employees aware of a romantic relationship involving their supervisor may come to believe that employee evaluations determined by that supervisor are less than objective.
While McNeese has no interest in interfering in the personal matters of its employees, it has no choice but to address situations that impede the legitimate interests and necessary work of innocent students and employees and that cast doubt on the integrity of our academic standards and employee evaluations. For this reason, this policy discourages all romantic relationships between members of the McNeese community in cases where one party to the relationship holds, or could potentially hold, a supervisory or evaluative position over the other. The fact that the relationship may have begun innocently or without any apparent negative consequences to third parties will be deemed irrelevant once either party to the relationship knows, or has reason to know, that the relationship has progressed to the point where it could reasonably be perceived by third parties as being in violation of this policy.
Because of the inherent dangers involved in relationships involving members of the McNeese community holding positions of unequal positions of authority, and regardless of whether the parties to such a relationship believe the relationship to be secret or confidential in nature, this policy requires that any member of the McNeese community who becomes involved in such a relationship must report the existence of the relationship to his or her immediate supervisor. Upon receipt of a self-report, the University may reassign the party in the superior position of authority to other work duties, which may involve a demotion in rank or the elimination of supervisory duties—which may result in corresponding adjustments of salary and benefits—in order to limit or reduce negative consequences to third parties. Failure to self-report such a relationship will result in disciplinary action. For the party in the position of superior authority such disciplinary action may include a warning or other reprimand, reassignment of duties, suspension, or termination, depending on the circumstances.
This policy is distributed via the Academic Advisory Council, the Administrative Advisory Council, the University Listserv, the Student Listserv, Human Resources and Student Employment , and through routine communication between departments.