Policy: Policy 1-5-1: Consensual Relationships Date Adopted: Jan 01, 1996
Department: President's Office Contact: President's Office
Statement: It shall be the policy of WNC to prohibit romantic or sexual relationships between members of the college community only when one of the individuals involved has direct professional power or direct authority over the other.

Section 1: Background Information

  1. When employees of the college have romantic relationships with subordinates they supervise or when academic faculty have romantic relationships with students enrolled in their classes, the college and the person in the position of superior power are vulnerable to charges of harassment from the person in the position of lesser power or from third parties.
    1. Faculty, staff, and administrators, particularly in relationships with students and persons under their supervision, need to be aware of potential conflicts of interest and the possible compromise of their evaluative capacity.
    2. Faculty, staff, and administrators need to be aware that a sexual relationship may give rise to a perception on the part of others that the evaluative capacity of the faculty member or the supervisor has been compromised.
    3. The power differential inherent in faculty-student and supervisor-supervisee relationships may compromise the student's or the supervisee's ability to make decisions and thus may call into question the bona fide consensual nature of a relationship
    4. Romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates they supervise and romantic relationships between academic faculty and students enrolled in their classes constitute conflicts of interest and are prohibited.
  2. Consensual relationships existing between individuals neither of whom has direct professional power or authority over the other are not prohibited by this policy.

Section 2: Definitions

  1. Direct professional power or authority over another individual occurs when a person is in the position to do any of the following:
    1. Supervise the academic work of a student in any capacity, including assigning grades, academic advising, or serving on scholarship committees;
    2. Influence a student's employment or any other college activity;
    3. Supervise and/or evaluate the work performance of a member of the faculty or professional or classified staff;
    4. Recommend or award merit or promotions to a member of the faculty or professional or classified staff;
    5. Serve on promotion or tenure committees.

Section 3: Sanction

  1. When a romantic or sexual relationship exists, both parties involved may be subject to sanction possibilities. However, the person in the position of power or authority over the other will bear a greater degree of accountability.
  2. To avoid possible sanction, the person in the position of power or authority over the other must, at the beginning of such a relationship, report its existence to his or her supervisor.

Section 4: Administrative Recourse

  1. Once the college administration learns of a romantic or sexual relationship, whether through self-reporting or otherwise, it will take immediate steps to eliminate the power or authority of the one individual over the other.
  2. This may be accomplished by reassigning duties or responsibilities or requiring withdrawal from a committee or similar action.
  3. Should the action fail to remedy the situation, and the relationship continues, or if the relationship is not self-reported, the administration may impose one or more of the sanctions available through the colleges disciplinary procedures, as outlined in the NSHE Code, the Nevada Administrative Code, or WNC policy(ies).

Section 5: Groundless or Malicious Charges

  1. Persons bringing groundless or malicious charges under this policy are subject to disciplinary action for personal misconduct under the appropriate personnel or student policies.

Date(s) Revised October 6, 2023; October 12, 2012; September 2, 2008; May 11, 2004; Date(s) Reviewed