Human Resources

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Romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty or other instructional staff/academic staff and students, or between supervisors and subordinates, are a concern of UW-La Crosse in cases where conflict of interest or abuse of power exist. The below statement is taken directly from UWL's Sexual Harassment Policy; inappropriate conduct is subject to disciplinary action and should be reported to the Affirmative Action Officer.

Consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a definite power differential between the parties exists, may constitute sexual harassment if the effect of such a relationship interferes with an individual's academic or professional performance or if it creates an intimidating environment upon its termination. Thus, it is in the interest of UWL to provide clear direction and educational opportunities to the university community about the potential risks associated with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a definite power differential between the parties exists. These relationships are of concern for two primary reasons:

  • Conflicts of interest may arise in connection with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between UWL employees and students, or between supervisors and subordinates. University policy precludes individuals from evaluating the work or academic performance of others with whom they have intimate familial relationships, or from making hiring, salary or similar financial decisions concerning such persons. These same principles apply to consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships, and require, at a minimum, that appropriate arrangements be made and recorded for objective decision-making with regard to the student, subordinate or prospective employee. Individuals in a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship must remove themselves from a position of evaluating or influencing the evaluation of the consenting or previously consenting partner in terms of grading, recommendations on hiring, retention, promotion or salary.
  • Abuse of power differential in consenting romantic and/or sexual relationships has the potential for serious consequences even when conflict of interest issues are resolved. Individuals entering into such relationships must recognize that:
    1. the reasons for entering such a relationship may be a function of the power differential;
    2. where such differentials exist, even in a seemingly consensual relationship, there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment; and
    3. the individual with the power in the relationship should expect to bear the burden of responsibility.