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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 9 - General Provisions
Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Responsible Executive: President


9.04 Consensual Relationships


I. POLICY STATEMENT


The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from discrimination based on sex, conflicts of interest and favoritism. UTSA recognizes that two consenting adults should be free to conduct a personal relationship if they so wish when the relationship does not interfere with the goals and policies of UTSA. Some romantic, dating and/or sexual relationships, although consensual, do create situations that lead to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, conflicts of interest, favoritism and low morale. This policy addresses those consensual relationships.


II. RATIONALE


Consensual Relationships, as defined by this policy, contain the potential for exploitation of a subordinate employee, faculty member or student and the possible professional or academic disadvantage of third parties, can lead to possible sexual harassment and can create conflicts of interest.


III. SCOPE


This policy and its complaint procedures apply to all UTSA administrators, faculty, staff, and students. This policy is applicable regardless of the gender of the UTSA employee with supervisory teaching, evaluation or advisory authority and/or the gender of the employee, student or student employee who is directly or indirectly supervised, taught, evaluated or advised by the supervisory employee.  

  1. Prohibited Consensual Relationships. The following consensual relationships, even if a single event, are prohibited:
    1. A Consensual Relationship between a Supervisor (as defined below) and Supervisee regardless of whether the supervisory relationship is direct or indirect, unless the Supervisor discloses the relationship in advance and a Management Plan is in effect;
    2. A Consensual Relationship between a coach or athletic staff and any student athlete or student assigned to or associated with the athletics department, such as interns and student employees, unless waived by the President or his or her designee for good cause.

IV. WEBSITE ADDRESS FOR THIS POLICY


http://www.utsa.edu/hop/chapter9/9-4.html


V. RELATED STATUTES, POLICIES, REQUIREMENTS OR STANDARDS


Relevant Federal and State Statutes

  1. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  2. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
  3. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Guidelines of Discrimination Because of Sex (defining sexual harassment), 29 Code of Federal Regulations § 1604.11(a) (1988)
  4. Texas Penal Code Ann. § 39.03, Official Oppression

UTSA or UT System Policies or the Board of Regents’ Rules & Regulations

  1. UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) policy 9.01, Nondiscrimination
  2. UTSA HOP policy 9.24, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct
  3. UTSA HOP policy 2.13, Termination and Nonreappointment of a Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty Member
  4. UTSA HOP policy 3.03, Discipline and Dismissal of Personnel
  5. Regent’s Rule 30105, Sexual Harassment and Misconduct and Inappropriate Consensual Relationships
  6. Regents’ Rule 31008, Termination of a Faculty Member
  7. UT System policy UTS184, Consensual Relationships

Other Policies & Standards

  1. Report of the UT System Task Force on Employee/Student Relationships, December 12, 2013

VI. CONTACTS


If you have any questions about HOP policy 9.04, Consensual Relationships, contact the UTSA Office of Equal Opportunity Services/Title IX Coordinator at 210-458-4120.

If you have any questions about the Management Plan discussed in HOP policy 9.04, Consensual Relationships, contact Employee Relations at 210-458-7891.

VII. DEFINITIONS


Consensual Relationship: a romantic, dating and/or sexual relationship agreed to by the parties involved.

Direct Authority: the authority vested in an individual as a result of his/her immediate power over another. Examples include, but are not limited to: Supervisor – supervised employee; faculty – enrolled student; faculty committee member – student submitting thesis; faculty mentor – student mentee; coach – coached athlete; Dean – supervised faculty.

Indirect Authority: authority derived from an informal or indirect relationship which allows for determinations or evaluations affecting terms and conditions of employment or student status.

Examples include, but are not limited to: a student majoring in a particular field who would still be indirectly under the control or influence of a senior professor or individual in the department or school; an employee in the same organizational unit who is under the indirect control of all more senior individuals in the department; a graduate teaching assistant and non-supervising department faculty member.

Management Plan: a written plan developed as provided in this policy that mitigates conflict and is acknowledged and signed by both parties involved in the Consensual Relationship.

Supervisee: any person whose terms and conditions of employment or student status are directly or indirectly controlled or affected by a Supervisor.

Supervisor: a UTSA faculty member or employee who has direct or indirect supervisory, teaching, evaluation or advisory authority over an employee or student.


VIII. RESPONSIBILITIES


  1. Employees/Students
    1. Any person who is aware of a violation of this policy should report such violation to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services (EOS).
  2. Employees with Direct or Indirect Supervisory Authority
    1. Employees with Direct or Indirect Supervisory Authority must disclose a Consensual Relationship as defined above to the Dean/Director level administrator or if there is not such an administrator, the appropriate Vice President, and the Associate Vice President for Human Resources (AVPHR). The Supervisor must make the disclosure prior to entering into the relationship or if the relationship exists, with as much advance notice as possible prior to the Supervisor accepting Direct or Indirect Authority.
    2. The individuals receiving the report must immediately collaborate to attempt to manage the conflict of interest. If management of the conflict is not possible, the Consensual Relationship is prohibited.
  3. Supervisor/Administrator/UTSA Official
    1. Reviews and processes allegations of a Prohibited Consensual Relationship, sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct, in accordance with HOP policy 9.24 Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct
  4. Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) Office
    1. Reviews and processes allegations of a Prohibited Consensual Relationship, sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct, in accordance with HOP policy 9.24, Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct
  5. Human Resources
    1. Disseminates this Consensual Relationships Policy, and ensures that all staff are aware of their responsibility to maintain compliance with its requirements;
    2. Develops annual workshops or presentations for faculty members, employees, and students that educate the campus community about this policy; and
    3. Organizes meetings of campus administrators, faculty leadership and student leadership to discuss the importance of establishing a climate in which Consensual Relationships between employees and students are unacceptable.
  6. Vice President for Student Affairs or designee
    1. Provides instruction to students during orientation and throughout enrollment to reinforce:
      1. The student’s responsibility in avoiding relationships with direct or indirect Supervisor’s and
      2. Helping students understand the collateral damage that can result when such relationships occur.
  7. Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
    1. Ensures that all faculty are aware of this policy and their responsibility to maintain compliance with its requirements.
  8. Counseling Services
    1. Confidential counseling services are available to employees through the Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program (210-615-8880; www.utsa.edu/hr/EmployeeRelations/eapinfo.html)
    2. Confidential counseling services are available to students through UTSA’s Counseling Services at 210-458-4140 (Main Campus) or 210-458-2930 (Downtown Campus); www.utsa.edu/counsel/.

IX. PROCEDURES


  1. Managment Plan
    1. If the Consensual Relationship can be managed, the AVPHR will provide a Management Plan to the Supervisor within 7 business days of the report unless there are reasonable grounds for additional time. A Consensual Relationship is considered prohibited until the Management Plan is in effect.
    2. A Management Plan will:
      1. Provide an alternative means for the supervision, teaching, advising, evaluation of the Supervisee or otherwise manage the conflict;
      2. Give priority to the interest of the Supervisee;
      3. Be written;
      4. Be acknowledged and signed by the parties to the relationship; and
      5. Be maintained by the AVPHR.
  2. Provisions Applicable to all Complaints
    1. Complaints concerning prohibited Consensual Relationships will be treated as sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints and investigated in accordance with the procedures outlined in HOP policy 9.24, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.  If there is a complaint of sexual harassment about a relationship covered by section III (A) above, and the relationship has not been disclosed and a Management Plan implemented, the burden shall be on the Supervisor to explain the failure to comply with this policy and such failure will be a factor in determining whether the relationship was consensual and free of sexual harassment. If it is determined that a policy violation has occurred, UTSA may take disciplinary action, which may include termination.
    2. Disciplinary action will be handled under UTSA’s policies for discipline and dismissal of faculty or employees depending on the Supervisor’s status.
    3. Retaliation of any kind against anyone for reporting a Consensual Relationship or for participating in any proceeding pursuant to this policy is prohibited.
  3. UTSA student athletes who report allegations of misconduct under this policy shall:
    1. Follow the reporting procedures outlined in HOP policy 9.24, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct; and
    2. Report such misconduct to the UTSA athletic department.

X. SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION


None


XI. FORMS AND TOOLS/ONLINE PROCESSES


None


XII. APPENDIX


None