Improper Relations between Students and Employees Policy
Winston-Salem State University does not condone amorous relationships between students and employees. Members of the University community should avoid such liaisons, which can harm students and damage the integrity of the academic enterprise. Further, sexual relationships between unmarried persons can result in criminal liability. In two types of situations, University prohibition and punishment of amorous relationships is deemed necessary: (1) when the employee is responsible for evaluating or supervising the student; and (2) when the student is a minor, as defined by North Carolina law. This policy applies to all Winston-Salem State University employees and to all consensual amorous relationships between individuals of the same sex or of the opposite sex.
These relationships may harm or injure others in the academic or work environment and have the potential to create other adverse situations, including allegations of sexual harassment and/or retaliation under the University’s Policy on Sexual Harassment, or Unlawful Workplace harassment policy.
- "Amorous relationship." An amorous relationship exists when, without the benefit of marriage, two persons as consenting partners (a) have a sexual union or (b) engage in a romantic partnering or courtship that may or may not have been consummated sexually.
- "Evaluate or supervise" means:
- To assess, determine or influence (1) one's academic performance, progress or potential or (2) one's entitlement to or eligibility for any institutionally conferred right, benefit or opportunity, or;
- To oversee, manage or direct one's academic or other institutionally prescribed activities within a direct line of supervision.
- "Related by blood, law or marriage" means:
- Parent and child
- Brother and sister
- Grandparent and grandchild
- Aunt and/or uncle and niece and/or nephew
- First cousins
- Stepparent and stepchild
- Husband and wife
- Parents-in-law and children-in-law
- Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law
- Guardian and ward
It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, for a University employee, incident to any instructional, research, administrative, or other University employment responsibility or authority, to evaluate or supervise any enrolled student of the institution with whom he or she has an amorous relationship or to whom he or she is related by blood, law or marriage.
It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, for a University employee to engage in sexual activity with any enrolled student of the University, other than his or her spouse, who is a minor below the age of 18 years.
A. Who May Bring a Complaint
A complaint alleging a violation of this Policy may be brought by any person, which includes, but is not limited to, any third party who believes that a conflict exists or that he or she may be or may have been disadvantaged by virtue of the existence of a romantic and/or sexual relationship prohibited by this Policy. The process may also be initiated by the Office of the Provost of the University, by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or by the Office of Affirmative Action, or by the designee of any of those offices.
B. Where to Bring a Complaint
Complaints alleging a violation of this Policy are to be brought to and investigated by the supervisor of the employee who allegedly violated this policy. Complaints may also be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer or Director of Human Resources.
C. Process for Formal Disciplinary Action
The supervisor will investigate the complaint, giving both the complainant and respondent an opportunity to be heard. The respondent will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations and evidence provided by the complainant, and to provide a statement of the facts as perceived by the respondent. At the conclusion of the investigation, the supervisor will issue a Improper Relations Policy written finding as to whether there is a reasonable basis to believe there has been a violation of this Policy.
a) In those cases where the respondent is a faculty member, the Office of the Provost will review the finding and will determine whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that this Policy has been violated, and will proceed as described in Section 4(a) below.
b) In those cases where the respondent is an SHRA staff member whose duties include supervision or evaluation of a student’s work study or volunteer work program, any decision regarding formal disciplinary action, will be made by the employee’s supervisor in consultation with Human Resources.
c) In those cases where the respondent is a graduate assistant, any decision regarding formal disciplinary action, will be made by the Dean of the Graduate College or his or her designee.
d) In those cases where the respondent is an EHRA Non-Faculty employee, any decision regarding formal disciplinary action, will be made by the employee’s supervisor in consultation with Human Resources.
Disciplinary actions that may be taken when a person has violated this Policy include, but are not limited to, the following: mandatory education or training, written warning, suspension, demotion, reduction in rank, termination, or a combination of the above.
Disciplinary actions resulting from violations of this Policy by:
- Persons holding faculty appointments will be governed by the Serious Imposition of Sanctions and Faculty Discharge Procedures of the Faculty Handbook and the relevant portion of the Conflict of Interest Policy found in the Faculty Handbook.
- SHRA staff members will be governed by applicable University policies and Office of State Personnel Policies, including the applicable disciplinary and grievance policy located in the SHRA Policy Manual.
- Graduate Assistants will be governed by the EHRA Non-Faculty Policy Manual.
Responsible Division: Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff
Authority: Board of Trustees
- Adopted: June 19, 2009