Personal Relationships

Personal Relationships

Personal Relationships between Faculty and Students

As a matter of sound judgment and professional ethics, faculty members have a responsibility to avoid any apparent or actual conflict between their professional responsibilities and personal interests in terms of their dealings or relationships with students.

It is the responsibility of faculty members to avoid being placed in a position of authority-by virtue of their specific teaching, research, or administrative assignments-over their spouses or other immediate family members who are students at the University.

It is also the responsibility of faculty members to avoid engaging in sexual relationships with or making sexual overtures to students over whom they are in a position of authority by virtue of their specific teaching, research, or administrative assignments. (NOTE: In this context, the term "faculty members" broadly includes all full-time and part-time University personnel who hold positions on the academic or general faculty, as well as all graduate teaching assistants, graders, and coaches.)

These professional constraints derive from AAUP ethical standards and the University's policy prohibiting conflict of interests, in order to ensure that the evaluation of students is conducted fairly and without any perception of favoritism or bias.

Perhaps less obvious, but equally compelling, is the interest in avoiding potential harm to students as well as the liability that could occur, for example, if facts regarding a sexual relationship or sexual overture are demonstrated that support a legal claim of sexual harassment by either party. To read the full Conflict of Interest Policy, see

http://www.virginia.edu/provost/docs_policies/conflict.html