Consensual Relationships and Conflict of Interest — Graduate Studies

Effective Date

Monday, January 20, 2014

Office of Primary Responsibility

School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Affected Parties

School of Graduate & Advanced Studies Students

Policy Statement

The fundamental relationship between a graduate student and any student or employee he or she supervises or evaluates must be kept on a professional basis. By entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student or employee she or he supervises or evaluates, the supervisor diminishes the advisee's freedom of choice, regardless of the advisee's consent, because of the real or implied power imbalance that rests with the supervisor. As such, romantic or sexual relationships between an evaluator and a student may undermine confidence in the character and integrity of the evaluator in the educational process. Hence, a romantic or sexual relationship between a graduate student and an advisee or student is unprofessional, and raises serious questions about the graduate student's professional judgment and the integrity of the advising process.

As a graduate student, you should also be mindful of the potential for misunderstanding or resentment, claims of harassment, and third-party claims about differential treatment if you engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with an advisee. Mutual consent does not protect you against charges of sexual harassment by a student.

If you find yourself in a position of being asked to evaluate or supervise anyone with whom you have, or have had, a sexual or romantic relationship you should immediately disclose this to the professor or person overseeing you, so that appropriate accommodations can be made. This will ensure you are not to be in a position to influence, or appear to influence, that student's grade, evaluation, or advancement.

To behave unprofessionally is not only unethical but may potentially place you, your department, and Dartmouth in a legally precarious position. You could also be subject to disciplinary action, the nature of which would depend on the circumstances, but could range from verbal or written censure to dismissal from the graduate program. If you have any questions or concerns about acting as a teaching assistant or in any supervisory capacity, please feel free to discuss them with your advisor or the Graduate Coordinator in your department. If you are unable to discuss your concerns with any of these individuals, you should contact your department chair or the Dean of Graduate Studies.