Consensual Relations Policy

[Faculty Handbook Category #3]

Rationale and Definition

A Consensual Relationship as that term is used in this policy is one in which two members of the St. Olaf College community are engaged by mutual consent in a romantic or sexual relationship. When such a relationship involves people who differ in power within the College community, it is of special concern because of the potential for conflict of interest and/or abuse of power. Decisions that must be made free from bias or favor may come under question when made by a person who may benefit from or be harmed by the decisions. The mere appearance of bias resulting from a Consensual Relationship may seriously disrupt the academic or work environment. Equally important, such relationships have the potential to undermine our sense of community, mutual trust, and support.

The seeds of harassment and sexual harassment can exist in Consensual Relationships of any kind that involve differences of status or power. For these reasons, St. Olaf College has adopted the following policy with respect to Consensual Relationships and places all employees on notice that the College views Consensual Relationships between College community members, especially when a power relationship exists, as unwise and of a high risk, particularly when students are involved.  Furthermore, should any legal claims arise out of a consensual relationship between community members, the defense of such claims will generally be the responsibility of the parties involved.

Consensual Relations Policy

A.     St. Olaf College strongly discourages Consensual Relationships between staff and faculty members where a power or reporting relationship exists.

B.     St. Olaf College prohibits Consensual Relationships between a faculty or staff member and any student enrolled at the College.

In situations involving the discouraged behavior in part A, the College reserves the right to transfer employees, rearrange reporting arrangements, or take other action, including disciplinary action, to remedy any situation deemed inappropriate.  A member of the College community who violates part B will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.

Reporting Apparent Violations and Procedures for Action

Any member of the College community who has reason to believe that a violation of the Consensual Relations Policy has occurred should contact one of the Investigators listed under the Sexual Harassment Policy. The Investigator contacted is responsible to see that the matter is investigated and/or acted upon appropriately. Any concern about violations at the Dean/Vice President/Provost level may be taken to any of the Investigators, or to the President, who shall take, or cause to be taken, appropriate action. If a student believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, he or she also may file a grievance under the student grievance policy published in “The Book.”