Students should be free to develop relationships that supplement formal classroom instruction, and employees should be free to develop friendships and engage in social contact with supervisors and fellow employees. In most cases, social interaction among supervisors and employees, between fellow employees, and among faculty and staff members and students will benefit the entire academic community by promoting the interchange of ideas, building mutual trust and respect, facilitating communication, and reducing misunderstandings.
However, when a person in a position of power and authority abuses or appears to abuse that position, mutual trust and respect are lost and the academic environment suffers. Buffalo State faculty, staff members, and supervisors exercise power and authority over Buffalo State students and employees over whom they have current or potential evaluative, supervisory, instructional, or other professional responsibility. This inherent power imbalance makes consent within any sexual or amorous relationship between a supervisor and employee or between a faculty or staff member and student suspect, and may impede the real or perceived freedom of the student or employee to thereafter terminate or otherwise alter the relationship. The relationship may create real or apparent impropriety, loss of objectivity, and a conflict of interest in any evaluative, supervisory, instructional, or other professional role which the faculty or staff member may have, or may develop in relation to the student or employee, and may expose the individual faculty or staff member, as well as Buffalo State, to possible legal charges and liability.
Therefore, to avoid the breakdown of mutual trust and respect, which may result within the academic community from such sexual or amorous relationships, it is the policy of Buffalo State that:
Any Buffalo State faculty or staff member who nevertheless engages in a sexual or amorous relationship shall be required to remove him or herself from any evaluation of the student and from any activity or decision which may or may appear to reward, penalize, or otherwise affect the student or student employee, and to otherwise take appropriate action to minimize any potential preferential or adverse consequences to the student, or to other members of the College community from any such sexual or amorous relationship. It shall also be the responsibility of the administrative head of the faculty or staff member's academic or administrative unit, if he or she is aware or made aware of the relationship, to assure that the foregoing steps are taken.
Where such a relationship exists, previously existed, or develops, it shall be the responsibility of the supervisor and their supervisor, to remove the supervisor from any evaluation of the employee, and from any activity or decision which may or may appear to reward, penalize, or otherwise affect the employee, and to otherwise take appropriate action to minimize any potential preferential or adverse consequences to the employee or to other members of the College community from any sexual or amorous relationship. An employee shall not be subject to sanction for such a relationship, but may be removed or transferred from a position (without demotion or adverse effect on the employee's benefits, terms or conditions of employment) which gives the supervisor the power to evaluate, reward, penalize, or otherwise affect the employee.
Approved July 29, 1997