It is one of our highest priorities at Penn to sustain a campus free of sexual violence, sexual harassment and all other forms of sexual misconduct, at which the members of our community can thrive in a safe and supportive environment. In this light, we have updated the University’s policy on Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and Students, which was originally published in 1995. The new policy has been reviewed by the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, the Council of Deans, the Faculty Senate and the leaders of GAPSA and the UA.
—Wendell Pritchett, Provost
Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and Students
The relationship between faculty1 and student is central to the academic mission of the University. No non-academic or personal ties should be allowed to interfere with the integrity of the faculty-student relationship. Consensual sexual relations between faculty and student can adversely affect the academic enterprise, distorting judgments, or appearing to do so to others, and providing incentives or disincentives for student-faculty contact that are inappropriate.
For these reasons, any sexual relations or dating relationships between a faculty member and an undergraduate student enrolled at the University are prohibited. The prohibition extends to all academic advisors and program directors, including those based in the College Houses and other University-owned or administered housing. The prohibition also extends to graduate, professional, or undergraduate student assistants, but, in their case, only with respect to those undergraduate students over whom they have academic responsibility.2
Although this policy does not categorically prohibit consensual sexual relations or dating relationships between faculty and graduate or professional students, the University strongly discourages all sexual relations or dating relationships between faculty and graduate or professional students.
Furthermore, sexual relations or dating relationships between a faculty member and a graduate or professional student during the period of the faculty/student relationship are prohibited. The prohibition extends to sexual relations or dating between a graduate or professional student and other students for whom they have some supervisory academic responsibility, between department chairs and students in that department, and between graduate group chairs and students in that graduate group. Likewise, sexual relations and dating relationships are prohibited between a graduate or professional student and academic advisors, program directors, and all others who have any supervisory responsibility for that student.
Faculty and academic supervisors who are or have been sexually involved with or dating students must decline to participate, either formally or informally, in any evaluative or supervisory academic activity with respect to those students.
The Provost, Deans, Department Chairs, and other administrators should respond to reports of prohibited sexual relations that are brought to them by investigating and, if warranted, initiating appropriate disciplinary action or remedial measures against the faculty member or supervisor involved. Violators of this policy will be subject to sanctions ranging from written reprimand to tenure revocation and/or termination of employment or expulsion.
1 For purposes of this policy, “faculty” includes (but is not limited to) standing faculty, clinical faculty, associated faculty, and academic support staff, as well as clinical or lab supervisors, postdoctoral fellows, house staff, residents, graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, and any other person providing instruction, academic advising, or academic oversight of an enrolled student in any school, course, or program, including summer and off-campus programs, irrespective of geographical location.
2 “Academic responsibility” includes (but is not limited to) teaching, grading, mentoring, advising, or evaluating research or other academic activity, participating in decisions regarding funding or other resources, clinical supervision, and recommending for admissions, employment, fellowships, or awards. In this context, students include graduate and professional school students, postdoctoral scholars, and clinical residents or fellows.
This update supersedes the policy version that was previously published in Almanac.