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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Agendas and Minutes

Remaining S18 meetings: March 1 (3-4:30PM), March 7 (8:30-10AM), March 12 (3-4:30PM), March 20 (8:30-10AM), March 29 (8:30-10AM), April 9 (3-4:30PM)

Meeting 9  Feb 20


Items in the google doc are being assembled in the public rough draft so we can talk about that.

We will talk about a “read the policy” checkbox that can be part of an annual grad school form that must be signed by all adviser-advisee pairs.

There is a meeting with  all the College HR directors on Wednesday so we really need to have some disclosure/reporting  mechanisms to suggest to that group. Let’s work on this talking points document.


Improved talking points doc

Meeting 8  Feb 9


Edit the Google Doc


Updated prose in  public rough draft

Meeting 7  Feb 1


  1. Report on meeting with Amita Verma from the Research Integrity and Assurance Office
  2. Did homework 0n the nepotism policy. Result: there is no dedicated policy but see Policy 4.14 (Conflict of Interest) pages 16-17
  3. Outreach plan with the Graduate Field Assistants.
  4. Outreach plan with the Women’s Resource Center
  5. The first Q2 posted comment identifies some important terminology concerns. Let’s talk about that.
  6. The first Q3 posted comment brings up unintended side effects when we talk about power differentials. Let’s talk about that.
  7. Let’s understand the difference between direct and indirect control.
  8. “Notification and Recusal” vs. “Disclosure” See Stanford
  9. Let’s get some prose on Fac-Ugrad and Grad-Ugrad taking U Chicago as version zero.
  10. Is there something special to say about Vet, Law, and Business students separate from what we say about Phd and Masters students?
  11. PhD students are in fields not departments. But from last time there were issues associated saying  “relationships between graduate students and faculty in the same field is prohibited”. Is this too big a radius?  Although fields are a little more abstract than departments, you can still find out exactly who is in a field via this grad school website . Should there be a “same field” prohibition or just a disclosure or nothing special?


Vocabulary is important. Referring to age is not advised. Will not talk about certain constituencies as “vulnerable”. Like “Notification and Recusal” more than “disclosure”. Must be very careful in how we use the terms “risky behavior” and “power differential”.

Direct vs Indirect authority. A blurred line.

We are agreed that faculty-ugrad relationships should be prohibited. We are still working on a 2-3 sentence justification.

We are inclined not to prohibit same-filed relationships between grads and faculty.

Management plan example. If a student must take a course taught by an ex-relationship partner, then there should be a management plan that enables the student to take the course but be graded by somebody else.

Meeting 6  Jan 22


We will discuss the University of Rochester case.


We talked about these aspects of the UR case. Related topics: (a) he tension between confidentiality and reassuring the community that the University s responding, (b) who to disclose to, (c) defining an effective radius of authority for grads with large and scattered fields.

Talked a lot about grad-ugrad relationships in laboratory situations. There are often powerful but informal authority chains. Agree that labs should NOT be treated as classes. Plan is list examples of authority chains indicating that they have to be disclosed to all in the lab group.

Altho students in VET, LAW, and BUS are grad students, there is some reason to treat them separately. Prohibiting  Fac-Student relationships when both are in the same professional school is on the table.

Meeting 5   Dec 11


We will discuss these policy options for faculty-undergraduate relationships.

And we will begin discussing the “effective disclosure” talking points Q8.1-Q8.8

Meeting 4   Dec 4


We will talk about the terminology page, the comment-posting page, and this handy pdf summary of all that we have done so far.

We should map out our spring semester meeting/town hall/outreach plans as well.

We will probably also have some rough draft Q-question prose to work on.

Q6 Discussion Notes


Fine tuned the terminology page. Decided that it is OK if non-Cornell people submit comments. We are, after all, just interested in getting good ideas. Plus, it would require serious work to set up the comment facility so that Cornell netIDs are required.

We discussed Q6 at length (Faculty-Ugrad relationships). Mixed opinions about whether an outright ban makes sense.

Secrecy in Policies:

Any policy creates secrecy—we can’t let that be the main factor in decision making
Counterpoint: empirically, it is not the case that all policies drive people into secrecy equally
An outright ban will do so more than a framework with disclosure


Undergrads and Policy:

Title IX Office would prefer an undergrad/faculty relationship ban.
The undergrad relationship with the institution is different, and relationships are not just between individuals but also the institution.
For undergrads, a ban with certain exceptions is pretty arbitrary and too vulnerable to individual pressure
their dynamic with the institution is much different from that of grads or postdocs, yes, but is their relationship across departments really that different?
Maybe their changing academic tracks/courses can be handled by disclosua lot of undergrad courses are cross-listed between departments or colleges
also they have lots of extracurriculars that also overlap and relationships are likely to lead to further interest in fields—what if you start dating a law professor and become interested in law?
There are apparently good ways of making exceptions non-arbitrary: list them in advance, and have them “not be dumb”
can list two ways: in series (if you are older than 22 AND are in a different college…) or in parallel (we look at the age gap, the tier of power differential…)
How to decide? write up a couple options and present language for ban, ban with exceptions, disclosure, etc.
options as draft language on the website



We can share what different repercussions might be as information comes in. There could be different results from: ban, and if we catch you, sanctionsban with exceptions, maybe—come talk to us.

Just disclose, and we may have to come up with a management plan

Settled on delegating Stetson to draft language to workshop for multiple options:

  • Complete ban. If you do it we punish you. If you do it and hide it and we find you, we punish you for hiding it and for it.
  • Ban with exceptions. No you may not, but if you do, come tell us, and under the right circumstances (preexisting? alternative timing?) then somebody monitors it and maybe exception.
  • No ban, but every single faculty-undergrad relationship must be disclosed and monitored.
  • Nothing about undergrads as distinct from other kinds of students.


Disclosure and Management:

Do need to clarify who disclosure should be to?
General consensus against chairs being point people.
Chairs are going to have to know in a lot of cases, but they are profoundly untrained for this
Chairs call counsel’s office currently (sometimes?)
Person should be outside academic hierarchy—orthogonal to department structure
We think that disclosure in the context of TAs reporting conflicts of interest to their professor is probably different from other disclosure in how it should be handled
Multiple TAs in most cases, or the professor’s availability, mean that avoiding that grader/romantic relationship is usually manageable
When we’re talking about who’s going to manage these relationships, that’s a cost to the institution that’s actually quite burdensome
Whatever office gets this is going to have to hire to manage it

Meeting 3   Nov 21


  1. Review the latest prose for Q1
  2. More discussion about the posting-comments policy.
  3. Look at some “sticky” talking points for Q2-Q5, Q8-Q10.
  4. Update on Q6-Q7 grad student discussion. (Anna)
  5. Legal issues associated with  sanctions. (Nate)


Anna and Charlie will moderate web postings. When the website is ready, the constituencies will be informed by Charlie (faculty), Nate (grads), Charlie via Ryan (ugrads), Tisha (Post Docs), Sandy(staff). Refined talking points for Q1-Q5, Q7-Q10

Meeting 2  Nov 14/Nov 16


  1. Review the Q1 Prose.
  2. Review the post-a-comment prose on Q1.
  3. Visit the Q2-Q10 talking points to check for clarity and completeness.
  4. Quick updates from students on what they  are doing.


  1. Q1-Q10 content revised in ways that will promote constructive community engagement.
  2. Warnings about the kinds of comments that we can expect to receive.

Meeting 1   Oct 31/Nov2


  1. Read what other schools have to say about Q1 .When we exit the discussion we should have enough ammo to write a good “lead paragraph”  for our policy. Anna and I will produce that draft which will be reviewed at the next meeting.

  2. We will cruise through Q2-Q10 developing good talking points so that the folks who want to leave comments on those pages have some concrete topics to choose from. (Take a look at Q7 to see what we mean by “talking points”.)

  3. We have to talk about confidentiality, sensitive subject matter, and to what extent we should allow our meetings to be “open to the public”.

  4. Update on the “small group” meeting that CVL had with the ugrads who are on the committee.


Gave this overview.

We developed talking points for Q1-Q10.

On transparency/sensitivity:


  • Emails are public
  • We are presumptively non-confidential. Not confidential reporters. Cannot ask for confidential info
  • We can avoid some problems by soliciting positive input (what people want) rather than negative (what fell through cracks
  • We can ask Sarah Affel for a training or guide on our duty to report

On scope:

  • Cornell HR already accustomed to managing relationships of married faculty-not the purview of this committee
  • Pseudo-students: vet school residents, postdocs
  • We do want to highlight situations beyond student-faculty
  • We like current language with coaches and advisors
  • Policy should pertain to students, not staff-staff or staff-faculty
  • What about “academic staff”?

On differences:

  • Grad/prof students know better what their path will be, compared to ugrads with mandatory distribution requirements and unpredictable academic paths
  • Take into account that power dynamics might shift very quickly, semester-by-semester, especially for undergrads.


Last Updated: February 21, 2018 at 11:54 am