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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

When taking our drafts to the Assemblies: public votes with name attached
Let them know that there will be this request of them with a particular deadline

We will need by May 1: policy version , plain-language version with a caveat that this is our attempt to make policy readable but is not in fact the policy

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.

Do we include examples of harassment?
What’s remedial for problematic (vs. actually violating policy) behavior?
Do we want to prohibit relationships within departments between students and faculty?

In case of chair conflicts of interest:
Dean shares info with chair or with designee
and may want to add in a note that if there’s a pending tenure case, info may be shared with the committee

5.5 is university policy on using emails

We don’t have something stopping us from telling a future employer—6.4 privacy section has a need-to-know exception for admins
sharing result is not mandated either way

We can rec a line for tenure letters: we keep confidential with regards to the tenure committee EXCEPT in cases where mandated by Title IX to pursue

Reach out to:
ombudsman–what the biggest problems they’re hearing about—OVER YEARS
(ie you must see weaknesses in the current policy)
(effective reporting?)
The F Word—Ella will email their info
Can we talk to college of business equivalent of Janna about what language might work?

Rather than “power differentials,” what about specific authority of one party over another

What is direct?
Partial but not determinative control (might be indirect control)

Stanford language: notification and recusal
(we like this: it’s your agency to do the right thing and to recuse yourself)
we REALLY like the infographic, but it needs clear channels of who to go to

Title IX spoke about relationship of ugrad to institution, and broad nature
“minimize the risk that romantic relationships will compromise a student’s academic experience at the university.”
also institutional risk
faculty have particularized obligation to their particular grad students; generalized obligation to the institution
“scope of life experiences”

Vocabulary is important.
Referring to age is not advised.
Will not talk about certain constituencies as “vulnerable”.
We 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 drafting the 2-3 sentence justification.

We are tentatively inclined not to prohibit same-field 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.

There’s a template plan for managing financial/research conflicts of interest
They manage about 50/ year
Disclosure is to EVERYONE—in publications, to students, to collaborators
Some terms general to everybody, sometimes specific clauses are inserted
Typical managers are department chairs—which is a little controversial as Weill does not recognize department chairs as objective overseers
Manager has to send a note once a year to the office
Hasn’t happened yet that somebody doesn’t follow the management plan—though maybe they just don’t know
They don’t take a punitive approach

We really like “authority” over the term power differentials

“if there is an official mentor or lab manager, that person has authority…”
“we recognize that unofficial positions may exist. those are tricky. check in.”

Are we not in favor of treating a lab like a course?
Report relationships in labs?

We will create a google doc draft with space for suggested edits; carve into sections

Professional students:
no peership with faculty, not current, not future, not expected
the research done for them is grunt work, not collaboration
any faculty member in professional schools can keep you from getting a job. forever.
professional students: off limits for professors in their professional school?
and then outside their schools, the regular grad rules apply
we need to find professional ILRs student and ask (also the MEng students)

Prohibiting relationships within fields is too broad
Disclosure instead?

Terminology: a lot of staff are postgraduate
We’re covering ALL employees and students
Since this is already compiled we can just link to faculty handbook

Focus on please: ugrad language, how we define direct/indirect control (with an eye to those tricky lab situations)


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


What happens if a “banned” relationship gets reported

any clemency for reporting oneself?

vs disclosure

We lean towards ugrad-faculty/academics/staff ban + ban between prof student/their school’s faculty and staff

Chicago has some good language, though we should expand it to include staff

dean/dept chair in partnership with Title IX coordinator

it’s a partnership, can’t be a secret from HR or from the dean/chair

Who’s the relevant point person? Title IX? Deans of Students for ugrads? Academic HR?

We should have conversation with the office that manages financial conflict of interest

Anna should obtain a list of relevant grad organizations thru Eugene

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.

FR  F1 F2 P



Last Updated: April 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm