The University of Connecticut's board of trustees enacted a strict new policy Wednesday banning undergraduate student-faculty romances, the Hartford Courant reports.
Under the policy, graduate students can't have a relationship with their advisor or any faculty member for whom they are a teaching assistant, the Courant reports. The rules apply regardless of age, so even in the case where a non-traditional student is older than an instructor, romance is still forbidden.
The executive committee of the UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Wednesday they support the university's new policy, according to the Associated Press.
"The relationship can be once, it can be short term, it can be long term, it can be a marriage -- everything in between," Associate Vice President Elizabeth Conklin told the Courant. "The intent is to capture it all ... When you see it, you know it."
In the past, UConn's policy was simply to "strongly discourage" romantic relationships where there was any "power imbalance between the parties."
"In the employment context, romantic relationships between supervisors and their subordinate employees often adversely affect decisions, distort judgment, and undermine workplace morale for all employees, including those not directly engaged in the relationship," UConn president Susan Herbst said in an email to the campus.
The new policy comes after longtime UConn professor Robert Miller was placed on leave for a sexual misconduct probe, which included allegations he visited freshmen dorms, provided drugs to students and had sexual contact with children, according to the state attorney general's office.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz insisted to The Huffington Post that administrators were working on changing the policy long before the case about Miller went public.
"It was already in the works several months before this administration learned in February of the allegations against Professor Miller," Reitz said last month, "and that case isn’t related to this initiative."
As Campus Reform noted, sexting and one-night stands are also banned under the new policy.
"Any amorous, intimate, or sexual contact is covered under this policy, regardless of duration and regardless of how traditionally 'romantic' (or not) or long term (or not) the encounter may be," a FAQ document from UConn reads. "One-time encounters are included. The intent of the Policy is to capture all such encounters or propositions for such encounters, not just long-term, established relationships."
The policy was drafted by the University's Title IX Committee with input from the Office of Faculty and Staff Labor Relations, and feedback from other employees and students.
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