Consensual Relationships Policy

Lycoming College acknowledges its responsibility to provide clear direction to the College community about the professional risks associated with consensual sexual relationships in which a definite power differential exists between the parties. Sexual relationships between any faculty or staff member and any student for whom the College employee has professional (i.e., academic, supervisory) responsibility could constitute professional misconduct and may be the subject of disciplinary action. The respect and trust accorded a professor or employee by a student, as well as the authority exercised in such tasks as assigning grades, mentoring or advising students, writing recommendations, or determining job assignments, make voluntary consent highly suspect. In fact, because of the difference in power and authority and the ability to influence academic or employment standing, one can never be certain that a sexual relationship with a student is truly welcome or consensual. Even when both parties have initially consented, the development and possible evolution of a sexual relationship make the faculty member or employee and institution vulnerable to subsequent allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct because of the significant power differential that exists between students and faculty members or employees. In their relationships with students, faculty members and other College employees who teach, supervise, or evaluate students must be aware of their professional responsibilities and avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias.