The integrity of the teacher-student relationship is the foundation of the University’s educational mission. This relationship vests considerable trust in the teacher, who, in turn, bears authority and accountability as a mentor, educator, and evaluator. The unequal institutional power inherent in this relationship heightens the vulnerability of the student and the potential for coercion. The pedagogical relationship between teacher and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and personal development.
Whenever a teacher is or in the future might reasonably become responsible for teaching, advising, or directly supervising a student, a sexual relationship between them is inappropriate and must be avoided. In addition to creating the potential for coercion, any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational process by creating a conflict of interest and may impair the learning environment for other students. Finally, such situations may expose the University and the teacher to liability for violation of laws against sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
Therefore, teachers (see below) must avoid sexual relationships with students over whom they have or might reasonably expect to have direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual. Conversely, a teacher must not directly supervise any student with whom he or she has a sexual relationship. Undergraduate students are particularly vulnerable to the unequal institutional power inherent in the teacher-student relationship and the potential for coercion, because of their age and relative lack of maturity. Therefore, no teacher shall have a sexual or amorous relationship with any undergraduate student, regardless of whether the teacher currently exercises or expects to have any pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities over that student.
Teachers or students with questions about this policy are advised to consult with the University’s Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator of his or her school, the department chair, the appropriate dean, the Provost, or one of his or her designees. A student or other member of the community may lodge a formal or informal complaint regarding an alleged violation of this policy with the University’s Title IX Coordinator, with the Title IX Coordinator of his or her school, or with the University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.
Violations of the above policies by a teacher will normally lead to disciplinary action. For purposes of this policy, “direct supervision” includes the following activities (on or off campus): course teaching, examining, grading, advising for a formal project such as a thesis or research, supervising required research or other academic activities, serving in such a capacity as Director of Undergraduate or Graduate Studies, and recommending in an institutional capacity for admissions, employment, fellowships or awards. “Teachers” includes, but is not limited to, all ladder and non-ladder faculty of the University.
It also includes graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows and associates only when they are serving as part-time acting instructors, teaching fellows or in similar institutional roles, with respect to the students they are currently teaching or supervising. “Students” refers to those enrolled in any and all educational and training programs of the University. Additionally, this policy applies to members of the Yale community who are not teachers as defined above, but have authority over or mentoring relationships with students, including athletic coaches, supervisors of student employees, advisors and directors of student organizations, Residential College Fellows, as well as others who advise, mentor, or evaluate students.
Yale Policy on Relationships Between Staff Members
Staff are expected to avoid romantic or sexual relationships with employees and trainees for whom they have or might reasonably expect to have supervisory or reporting responsibilities.
Under no circumstances can a supervisor directly supervise or evaluate any employee or trainee with whom they have or have had a romantic or sexual relationship. If such a relationship exists or develops, the supervisor and employee must promptly disclose it to the Department Head or the Human Resources Generalist. Arrangements, which may include reassignment or relocation, will be made to address any issue of conflict of interest. Any decision affecting any aspect of employment (for example, transfer, promotion, salary, termination) must be made by disinterested and qualified supervisory personnel.
Violations of this policy will normally lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Individuals with questions about this policy or staff concerned about a romantic or sexual relationship in violation of this policy are encouraged to speak with their supervisor, Human Resources Generalist, or any Title IX Coordinator. See Staff Workplace Policies.