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Comments on the Section “Terminology and Scope”

Last Updated: March 9, 2018 at 3:10 pm


  1. In this section, veterinary interns should be changed to veterinary interns and residents.

    Throughout this policy graduate students are students who have an undergraduate degree. Post-doctoral fellows, post-doctoral researchers, visiting critics, visiting fellows, and veterinary interns are post-graduates. All other academic title-holders are faculty from the standpoint of this policy, including those whose titles are modified by “visiting,” “courtesy,” “acting,” “adjunct,” or “emeritus.”

  2. The current draft seems to be crafted around conflicting ways of specifying the subject of the policy, i.e. the individuals involved in a relationship and the criteria that make this relationship problematic.

    On the one hand, this section opens with a general stipulation of the subjects of this policy: “This policy is about sexual and romantic relationships that are consensual and have a dynamic that involves power imbalance. This means that one individual in the relationship (the authority) can influence the academic or professional progress of the other (the subordinate).”

    On the other hand, the following paragraphs and sections move away from this general language of authority-subordinate and tend to define the relationship in terms of /formal/ (rather than actual) positions of authority. This focus on formal positions of authority appears to complicate the overall policy.

    While this presumption seems perfectly reasonable in most cases, there might be constellations that require more differentiation. One potential issue that came up in discussions was relationships between graduate students and junior (untenured) faculty (as opposed to ‘Faculty’ in general). It was suggested that in these cases the power imbalance might not be straightforward since negative student references can have a serious impact on tenure and promotion decisions.

  3. Does this policy apply to extramural students?

    1. Yes. If you have an undergraduate degree, then you are classified as a “graduate student”. Otherwise, you are grouped with the undergraduates.

  4. The proposed policy defines graduate students as anyone with an undergraduate degree, which would include professional students. Throughout Cornell, however, including in the name of the relevant assembly, we refer to that population as graduate and professional students. I think that should carry over here as well, particularly because the remainder of the policy seems to focus on the structure of typical graduate school relationships, which is not replicated in professional school settings. The impact of a relationship between faculty or staff and a student is no less detrimental, whether or not the faculty member is currently teaching that student or supervising them on a research project, particularly regarding letters of recommendation for prime post-graduation positions as well as other students’ perceptions of favoritism or partiality in such a small setting.

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