C.25. Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Staff Members and Students
The integrity and trust of the faculty-student relationship is central to Middlebury’s educational mission. Amorous relationships, defined as any dating, sexual, or other romantic relationship of any length between a faculty member and a student, even if they are not directly in any advisory or teaching role, involve a power differential, and therefore raise serious questions about unfair grading or other imbalanced evaluation practices, conflicts of interest, favoritism and bias. These concerns have an adverse impact on the educational environment of other students, as well as the student directly involved.
A seemingly consensual relationship between any employee with a student may meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, as lack of mutual consent may be inferred from the power differential between the employee – whether faculty or staff – and a student. Accordingly, amorous relationships between all Middlebury employees – faculty and staff – and all students enrolled in any Middlebury program are prohibited.
In exceptional cases falling outside of the anticipated scope of this policy, such as a relationship between an employee and a graduate student in an unrelated Middlebury program, exemptions to this policy may be granted by the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of Faculty (“VPAA/DoF”), or their designee(s), for faculty members, and the Vice President of Human Resources (“VPHR”), or their designee(s), for staff members. Any employee, whether faculty or staff, who wishes to request such an exemption, shall submit a written statement to the VPAA/DoF or the VPHR, as applicable, explaining the reasons for the request. The VPAA/DoF or the VPHR will consult with the student and then respond in writing to the faculty or staff member with their decision and any conditions of approval that may apply, as applicable.
Questions about this policy shall be directed to the VPAA/DoF for faculty, or the VPHR for staff.
If Middlebury receives information that a faculty or staff member has violated this policy, the procedures laid out in the applicable misconduct policy shall be followed. If the employee is found to have violated this policy, the faculty or staff member will be subject to all appropriate discipline, including termination, consistent with the procedures of the applicable policy.