Section 17. Consensual Sexual Relationships Between Faculty Members and Students

The responsible administrator for this section is the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty. Amherst College faculty have approval authority.

Experience has shown that consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students can lead to harassment. Faculty members should understand the potential for coercion in sexual relationships with students with whom the faculty members also have instructional, advisory or supervisory relationships.

Even when such relationships do not lead to harassment, they can compromise the integrity of the educational process. The objectivity of evaluations that occur in making recommendations or assigning grades, honors and fellowships may be called into question when a faculty member involved in those functions has or has had a sexual relationship with a student. 

For those reasons, the College does not condone, and in fact strongly discourages, consensual sexual relationships between faculty members and students. The College requires a faculty member to remove him/herself from any supervisory, evaluative, advisory or other pedagogical role involving a student with whom he or she has had or currently has a sexual relationship. Since the absence of this person may deprive the student of educational, advising or career opportunities, both parties should be mindful of the potential costs to the student before entering into a sexual relationship. 

In cases in which it proves necessary, the Dean of Faculty, in consultation with the Dean of Students and the Chair (or Head) of the relevant department, will evaluate the student’s situation and take measures to prevent deprivation of educational and advising opportunities. The appropriate officers of the College will have the authority to make exceptions to normal academic rules and policies that are warranted by the circumstances. 

Approved by the Faculty, Dec. 1, 1992