Board drafts dating policy

Kara Christensen

Kara Christensen

University employees could not date students or other employees under their supervision if the Board of Regents adopts a fraternization policy it is considering.

The policy was made to prevent favoritism and misuse of authority, Jim Shekleton, the BOR’s general counsel, told about 15 people at an open meeting last Wednesday for faculty, staff and students.

Shekleton is visiting state universities to present a draft of the policy.

Under the policy, university employees could not date if one supervises the other.

The BOR’s definition of supervising includes scheduling, disciplining, evaluating, hiring or firing, promoting, assigning duties or setting salaries. University employees would not be allowed to date students whom they teach, employ, discipline or direct in independent studies, thesis or dissertation work.

The university employee could not decide grades, honors or scholarships for the student.

“When there’s no supervision involved, then there’s no restriction on relationships,” Shekleton said.

The person doing the supervising would be responsible for reporting the violation, he said.

The situation could be solved by transferring the student to a different class or removing an employee from his or her partner’s authority.

“We’ll try to make accomodations that are virtually painless,” Shekleton said.

In extreme cases, students may have to change majors if they are dating the only professor who teaches a required class.

One audience member asked whether the policy would apply to members of a couple even after the couple had broken up. Shekleton said the BOR would address that concern.

Shekleton said the government cannot usually intervene in personal relationships. However, limitations on those who hold positions of power can be made to protect the integrity of public services, he said.

No cases of fraternization problems at state universities prompted the policy, he said.

Related BOR policies on sexual harrassment and nepotism are in place to prevent power abuse or favoritism among employees who are family members.