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Monday, November 07, 2005

Ball State Faculty Approve Policy on Faculty/Student Sexual Relationships


The following news item from the Ball State Daily News edition of November 4th may say something larger about the usefulness of faculty senates in higher education. Or it may something about math; any relationships started with freshmen students in the same year the faculty senate began debating the topic would be over by the time the policy was passed. Or it may just say something about Ball State University.

You can read it and make your own judgments.

The following is excerpted from the report by Chief Reporter YaVonda Smalls:

The Ball State University Senate voted Thursday to approve the Policy on Consensual Sexual and Romantic Relationships. This was the first time the policy was approved after more than five years of working through the system.

According to the policy, “It is the University’s policy that persons shall not have instructional or supervisory responsibilities over anyone with whom they have a sexual or romantic relationship. If such a relationship exists or develops, the person with instructional or supervisory responsibilities shall immediately make arrangements to terminate his or her instructional or supervisory responsibilities over the partner in the relationship.”

Bruce Hozeski, chairperson of University Senate, said the policy has now been recommended to the president, who will decide whether it can be implemented now or whether the policy needs to go to the Board of Trustees. Because the board has the legal authority over the university, the policy will probably go the board, Hozeski said.

The Policy on Consensual Sexual and Romantic Relationships has been through multiple committees and councils, from the Senate Agenda Committee in January 2000 to Legal Counsel in October 2005. The policy has also been through the Academic Freedom and Ethics Committee, the Professional Affairs Council and the Agenda Committee.

“This policy has been around a while,” said Sali Falling, executive director of University Compliance. The policy is beneficial because it is specific and provides clarity about consensual sexual and romantic relationships, she said.

The policy states that “legal and ethical risks are inherent in any sexual or romantic relationship between a person with instructional responsibilities (full-time or part-time) a student whose academic work is being supervised by the person with instructional responsibilities, even when the relationship seems to be consensual.”

The policy further states that people who are involved in a romantic relationship cannot be expected to assess objectively the performance of their partners in the relationship.

The fact that the policy took more than five years to be approved and passed is “extremely unusual,” Hozeski said.

“This is probably the longest it’s ever taken anything,” Hozeski said.

It will take a year or two after the policy is adopted to see if grade deflation occurs.

MORE: Ball State Daily News historical links about the policy.

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