1.0 Policy Purpose
This policy supports the mission of the University by establishing an environment free from bias, conflict, or inequitable treatment and the pursuit of academic freedom and research. Additionally, this policy serves to uphold the University’s high standards of professional and ethical conduct, specifically with respect to interpersonal relationships.
Brown prohibits non-consensual relationships to ensure that students and employees are able to learn or work in an environment where they can be objectively supervised, instructed, or evaluated. Moreover, to provide equal treatment and avoid potential conflicts of interest, favoritism, exploitation, harassment or professional standard breaches, students, faculty and staff are prohibited from engaging in romantic or sexual relationships where supervision, direction or control exists between the parties.
2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies
This policy applies to all Members of the Brown Community. This policy also applies to employees who are represented by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) where the CBA does not address a Consensual Relationship.
3.0 Policy Statement
In cases where a consensual romantic or sexual relationship exists between individuals in inherently unequal positions of authority, such relationships could have the effect of impeding the success of the work environment, academic training, or research. Moreover, because of the real or perceived power imbalance that may exist, such a relationship may also raise questions about the mutuality of consent. Such situations may cast doubt on the objectivity and fairness of the workplace, damage workplace morale, and place the University in a legally vulnerable position.
A romantic or sexual relationship between faculty or staff and an undergraduate student is expressly prohibited. Romantic or sexual relationships are also prohibited between faculty and/or staff with graduate and medical students where the faculty or staff member has power or authority over the graduate or medical student. This policy also applies to students engaged in an employment capacity.
No Supervisor shall have or pursue a Consensual Relationship with an employee or student where the Supervisor has the authority or responsibility to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, assign or direct the employee or student. If such a relationship develops, the person in the position of greater authority must disclose the relationship by completing a Conflict of Interest and Commitment (COIC) disclosure form. UHR, in partnership with management, will evaluate the situation and ensure that alternate supervisory or evaluative arrangements are in place to address any conflict of interest including the creation of a Management Plan.
A Supervisor will be subject to disciplinary action for failing to promptly disclose a romantic or sexual relationship with an employee or student.
Prompt disclosure is an effective method of adhering to this policy but does not alone ensure that the policy has not been violated. Policy violations will be determined on a case by case basis after considering the facts of each relationship.
In addition, Members of the Brown Community must disclose a new or existing Consensual Relationship by completing a Conflict of Interest and Commitment (COIC) disclosure form. For further details, please refer to the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy.
For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:
- Members of the Brown Community:
Faculty and staff members, graduate and medical student employees, undergraduate students, or anyone with a Brown academic appointment, a member of the Corporation of Brown University, or a member of a Standing Committee of the Corporation.
- Consensual Relationship:
A Consensual Relationship is one in which two people are engaged by mutual consent in an emotionally (romantic) or physically (sexually) intimate relationship. Sixteen (16) years old is the legal age of consent in Rhode Island. This means that a minor, who is 15 years old or younger, cannot legally consent to sex.
Any person who has the authority and/or responsibility to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, assign or direct employees or students of the University.
- Management Plan:
A document that outlines the management and/or operational mechanisms and processes put in place to address the conflict.
All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University Supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
Faculty, Staff, and Students: Relationships with undergraduate students are expressly prohibited. Relationships with subordinates or any person who has authority over another are also prohibited. However, should such a relationship arise, it must be disclosed by the Supervisor or faculty member so that a Management Plan can be instituted, if appropriate.
Supervisor: When a Management Plan is required in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Process, a Supervisor must submit a plan to the Conflict of Interest and Commitment Review Committee for review and approval.
University Human Resources: Serve as primary resource to inform individuals in a Consensual Relationship of an approved plan to eliminate, or mitigate risks to the University as a result of the relationship.
6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy
Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures.
Violations to this policy may also result in suspending participation in an academic program at the University of one or both parties.
7.0 Related Information
This policy is not a legal document. This policy does not confer a term of employment, nor is the language intended to establish a contract of employment, express or implied, between any employee and Brown University. The University reserves the right to change, amend or terminate any of its human resources policies at any time for any reason.
Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).
The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.
7.1 Related Policies:
7.2 Related Procedures:
7.3 Related Form:
7.4 Frequently Asked Questions:
7.5 Other Related Information: