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Q6. What About Faculty-Ugrad Relationships?

Read What Other Schools Have to Say.
Review of Terminology

Talking Points

  1. Some universities have outright strictly prohibit relationships between faculty and undergraduate students. Is that advisable?
  2. If relationships between faculty and undergraduate students are not prohibited, then should there be specific language calling attention to the enhanced vulnerability of that group of students?
  3. Are there strategies to follow that would guard against the formation of relationships between faculty and undergraduate students?

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Last Updated: December 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm


  1. Outright prohibition (such as Brown’s) needs some exceptions, my spouse become an undergrad at CU some years after we were married.

    1. I believe that an outright prohibition is the best thing. In the case of a married relationship, the spousal couple should not be in the same program. I think it is fine to have an exception to allow the undergrad to come to Cornell, but it must be in a different program that their spouse. The same dynamics exist regardless of the pre-existence of the relationship.

  2. I oppose an outright prohibition. Relationships between a faculty (or staff) member and an undergraduate student situated clearly outside the faculty (or staff) member’s “radius of authority” should be okay. I know, for example, of a staff member in one college who entered into a consensual relationship with an undergraduate in another college when the undergraduate was a sophomore. The student has now graduated and the relationship continues happily.

    I concur with the apparent consensus at the Faculty Senate meeting in 2016 (I think) that it infantilizes students to prohibit consensual relationships between adults that don’t violate the current policy (or an enhanced version thereof) on power relationships and radii of authority.

  3. An undergraduate has a relationship to the institution not just to their college or department. The faculty and staff act as agents of the institution in the delivery of the mission to the undergraduates. This agency relationship should preclude faculty or staff from being in intimate relationships with undergraduates.

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