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February 16, 2017

Assembly OKs relationship policy

Faculty Assembly approved a revised draft of a consensual relationship policy at its Feb. 14 meeting in a 30-1 vote with two abstentions.

For the last few months, the Assembly has been reviewing changes to the University’s policy (Policy 02-04-03) that prohibits intimate relationships between faculty members and students whose academic work, teaching or research is being supervised or evaluated by the faculty member.

The revised policy expands the ban to include relationships between staff and students and prohibits supervisors from initiating consensual relationships with employees under their area of responsibility.

The approval comes after two previous attempts to endorse drafts at meetings last fall failed. (See Oct. 13 and Dec. 8 University Times.) Of particular concern were provisions that some said left the faculty vulnerable to baseless accusations or administrative abuse. The latest revision now will be placed on Senate Council’s Feb. 22 agenda.

Senate President Frank Wilson thanked the Senate’s tenure and academic freedom committee (TAFC) and other Assembly members involved in drafting the policy.

“I hope what we’ve learned from this process is that we can do shared governance,” Wilson said.

In 2015, a provost’s ad hoc committee began working to update the policy, which had been in effect since July 1996.

“I still think this is an unwise and unnecessary policy,” said Chris Bonneau, a political science faculty member and a member of the Assembly and TAFC, who nonetheless voted in favor of the policy. “But I am convinced now that faculty rights are protected in this version.”

The revised policy is posted at

In other business:

• Alex Jones, of engineering, announced that the Assembly’s March 14 meeting agenda will feature an ad hoc committee’s draft report on student surveys and annual evaluations, promotion and tenure.

• Kacey Marra, of medicine, who is co-chair of the Senate equity, inclusion and antidiscrimination advocacy committee, shared a statement from the working group on international populations. That statement supported Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s Jan. 28 message responding to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration.

• The University Research Council and the Office of the Provost anticipate sponsoring 15-20 awards funding diversity research. For more information, visit

—Katie Fike

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