INITIATED:                                                                                    APPROVED:  September 24, 2010


Interactions between faculty, staff and students at Northern Michigan University are guided by professional ethics, trust, and mutual respect. Professional relationships have a power differential that may carry risks of conflict of interest, breach of trust and professional ethics, and abuse of power.


All students, faculty, and staff


University employees (faculty, staff, and student supervisors) who are in a position of authority in such matters as supervising, evaluating, teaching a course and/or advising a student as part of a school program shall not engage in a Consensual Relationship with a student or subordinate.  Should a Consensual Relationship develop while the university employee is in a position of authority, the supervisory authority must be transferred.


For the purpose of this policy the following definitions apply:

  1. Faculty:  Full or part-time faculty, adjunct instructors, and graduate and teaching assistants.
  2. Staff:  Individuals employed by the university such as executive management, senior management, senior administrators, coaches, Administrative Professionals, Technical and Office Professionals, and AFSCME.
  3. Student supervisors:  full or part-time students who have a supervisory role over other students.
  4. Consensual Relationship:  any dating, romantic, sexual, or marriage relationship.



Faculty shall not enter into a Consensual Relationship with students over whom they have authority.  When a pre-existing consensual relationship exists conflicts of interest must be avoided.  Avoidance includes but is not limited to:  the student transferring to another course, section, seminar, etc. taught by a different faculty member; assigning or transferring the student to another academic advisor; the student dropping a course; or the department bringing in an alternative grader.


Supervisors shall not enter into a Consensual Relationship with subordinates over whom they have authority.  When a pre-existing consensual relationship exists, conflicts of interest must be avoided.  Supervisors shall neither initiate nor participate in decisions involving a direct benefit (initial appointment, retention, promotion, salary, leave of absence, etc.) for an individual with whom they have a Consensual Relationship.

When a complaint of a possible violation of this policy occurs, the administrator and/or supervisor (department chair, dean, or other responsible person) shall conduct a prompt and thorough inquiry to determine whether the allegation is true.  Where it is concluded that the policy has been violated, the administrator/supervisor will take corrective action to rectify the conflict of interest and may impose sanctions against the parties involved.

Persons in violation of this policy may be subject to sanctions ranging from verbal warnings to dismissal or termination. Persons who knowingly make false allegations that a consensual relationship overlaps with a position of authority between others may be subject to the same sanctions.

Nothing herein may conflict with Northern Michigan University’s collective bargaining agreements.


Equal Opportunity / Finance and Administration, ext. 2420

Approved by the President 9/8/10
Approved by the Board of Trustees 9/24/10