Improper Relationships between Students and Employees
Formerly Executive Memorandum 96-116
Initially approved July 8, 1996
Administering Office: Chancellor's Office
On March 15, 1996, the Board of Governors adopted a policy concerning "Improper Relationships
Between Students and Employees" for immediate implementation by all constituent institutions.
In accordance with the Board of Governors' policy statement, WCU has adopted the following
policy and procedures.
POLICY AND PROCEDURES
The University of North Carolina and Western Carolina University do not condone amorous
relationships between students and employees. Members of the University community
should avoid such liaisons, which can harm affected students and damage the integrity
of the academic enterprise. Further, sexual relationships between unmarried persons
can result in criminal liability. In two types of situations, University prohibition
and punishment of amorous relationships is deemed necessary: (1) When the employee
is responsible for evaluating or supervising the affected student. (2) When the student
is a minor, as defined by North Carolina law.
A. Prohibited Conduct
It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action, for a University employee, incident
to any instructional, research, administrative or other University employment responsibility
or authority, to evaluate or supervise any enrolled student of the institution with
whom he or she has an amorous relationship or to whom he or she is related by blood,
law or marriage.
It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action, for a University employee to engage
in sexual activity with any enrolled student of the institution, other than his or
her spouse, who is a minor below the age of 18 years.
B. Definition of Terms
"Amorous relationship." An amorous relationship exists when, without the benefit of marriage, two persons
as consenting partners (a) have a sexual union or (b) engage in a romantic partnering
or courtship that may or may not have been consummated sexually.
"Related by blood, law or marriage" means:
- Parent and child
- Brother and sister
- Grandparent and grandchild
- Aunt and/or uncle and niece and/or nephew
- First cousins
- Step-parent and step-child
- Husband and wife
- Parents-in-law and children-in-law
- Brother-in-law and sisters-in-law
- Guardian and ward
"Evaluate or supervise" means:
- To assess, determine or influence (1) one's academic performance, progress or potential
or (2) one's entitlement to or eligibility for any institutionally conferred right,
benefit or opportunity, or
- To oversee, manage or direct one's academic or other institutionally prescribed activities.
C. Corrective Action
Complaints that an employee is violating this policy should be made to and investigated
by the accused employee's supervisor. Before beginning an investigation, a supervisor
may require a complaining party to submit a signed, written statement. While there
are no time limits barring a complaint, delay may make it difficult for the supervisor
to properly investigate the matter. The person charged with investigating the complaint
may seek guidance as necessary from either higher level supervisors, the Equal Opportunity
Director or University Legal Counsel. The Chancellor may assign the Equal Opportunity
Director or the University Legal Counsel to assist in the investigation as necessary.
All complaints received pursuant to this section must be reported to the Vice Chancellor
of the accused employee by the person receiving them. The report shall be in the form
of a written statement identifying the complaining party, the conduct complained of,
and the employee alleged to have engaged in it.
The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether there is a reasonable basis
for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred. The investigator serves
as a neutral fact finder. While there are no time limits placed on investigators,
investigations must be completed as quickly as justice and fairness allow. Possible
outcomes of the investigation include: (1) a judgment that a policy violation did
not occur; (2) an agreement, in appropriate cases, to end the employees supervisory
or evaluative responsibilities over the student; (3) institution of formal disciplinary
action in accordance with existing disciplinary policies and procedures.
If disciplinary action is brought against an affected employee, it shall be conducted
in accordance with existing institutional policies and procedures prescribed for prosecuting
misconduct charges against members of the class of employment of which the affected
employee is a member.