Consensual Relations with Students


For Faculty
Full Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, Senior Lecturers and Instructors

A sexual or romantic relationship between a faculty member and a person for whom he or she has professional responsibility (i.e., as a teacher, adviser, evaluator, or supervisor) is inherently problematic. With professional responsibility comes power. It is incumbent on faculty members not to abuse, nor to seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted.

Faculty members are prohibited from initiating or engaging in romantic or sexual behavior with undergraduate students at Princeton University. Faculty members are also prohibited from requesting or accepting sexual favors from undergraduate students at Princeton University. Faculty members are defined as tenured, tenure-track faculty, instructors, and lecturers. Undergraduate students include those matriculating at Princeton as well as those from other institutions who come to Princeton for pre-bac, visiting, summer, and post-bac programs.

In addition, no faculty member, researcher, graduate student, visiting student, or undergraduate course assistant shall initiate or engage in a romantic or sexual behavior with any student, including a graduate student or DCE student, who is enrolled in a course taught by that individual or otherwise subject to that individual's academic supervision or evaluation. Academic supervision includes teaching, advising, supervising research, supervising teaching or grading, and serving as Departmental Representative or DGS of the student's academic program. Academic evaluation includes assigning grades, evaluating degree progress, serving as a committee member, and providing letters of reference.
Beyond these prohibited relations, all romantic or sexual relationships between individuals of different University status require heightened awareness. For example, a faculty member may wish to initiate a personal relationship with an individual over whom he or she has no current professional supervisory responsibility. This faculty member should, however, be sensitive to the possibility that he or she may unexpectedly be placed in a position of responsibility for that individual's instruction, supervision, or evaluation. In addition, others may speculate that the personal relationship has given the individual professional advantage, even if it has not. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual relationship, the person in the position of greater authority, by virtue of his or her special responsibility and role in the core educational mission of the University, bears responsibility for any adverse professional consequences that arise.
Finally, all members of the University community should be aware of power asymmetries in their relations with others. What constitutes "power" varies across contexts and individuals. For example, although the University's formal rules would not explicitly recognize a student in an extracurricular organization to have power over a student who would like to join that organization, one or both of the students in question may perceive their relationship to be affected by a power dynamic. As members of a community characterized by multiple formal and informal hierarchies, it is incumbent on each of us to be sensitive to the ways in which we exercise power and influence and to be judicious in our relations with others.
Complaints regarding non-academic conduct of members of the Faculty should be addressed to the Dean of the Faculty. When such a complaint is brought forward, the Dean normally conducts an inquiry and, if appropriate, submits his or her findings and recommendations to the President under paragraph IV.N.1 in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty.
For Academic Professionals
Professional Researchers (including visitors and PostDocs), Professional Specialists and Librarians

Consensual Relations with Students for Academic Professionals

Contact the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for policies relating to consensual relations with students for Academic Professionals.