Bard College Student Handbook

Consensual Relations

The College strongly discourages amorous or sexual relationships between faculty members and students, administrators and students, and staff members and students. Although the College recognizes that adults, including young adults, may make choices regarding personal relationships, amorous or sexual relationships between students and faculty, administrators or staff raise serious concerns about conflicts of interest, validity of consent, and preferential treatment, jeopardizing a student’s educational program, as well as the learning environment for all students. These relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of a violation of applicable sections of the faculty/staff handbooks. Faculty and staff engaged in such relationships should be sensible to the constant possibility that they may be placed unexpectedly in a position of responsibility for the student’s instruction or evaluation. Individuals who hold positions of power put both themselves and the College at risk when they engage in such relationships. Risks may include loss of professional standing with colleagues and students, allegations and charges of sexual harassment, disciplinary action by the College, and legal liability. A faculty member, administrator or staff member who is involved in an amorous or sexual relationship with any student must make the relationship known to their divisional chair, dean or supervisor and must cooperate fully in making alternative arrangements for the supervision, evaluation, teaching, grading or advising of the student and/or assist in making such arrangements for the future. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action ranging from verbal warning to dismissal.