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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Faculty-student relationship policy under revision

    UA employees need to know that they will be punished for not disclosing their sexual or romantic relationships with students, and the Faculty Senate is drafting a policy change to clear up ambiguities in the policy, a senate member said.

    The Interim Policy for Management of Personal Conflicts of Interest, in effect at the UA since 2002, will be replaced by a draft that is currently under review by the Faculty Senate.

    “”We need to do something structured and clear showing that certain relationships are problematic,”” said Faculty Senate member John Ulreich, a professor of English. “”If you fall in love with a student, then you immediately remove yourself from teaching that student.””

    Although the current policy hasn’t caused any problems, it should be changed because faculty members who might be breaking the rule will be doing so knowingly and may not want to disclose their actions due to ensuing consequences, Ulreich said.

    “”We will have to have something without vague language, and it seems that there could be some double jeopardy,”” Ulreich said. “”The policy needs to operate more decisively. If you’re doing it, you should be punished, by the following set of guidelines.””

    Ulreich said the policy should encompass family members who are in a similar position. Ulreich said when his son took classes, he made sure that he was never his professor to avoid a conflict of interest.

    “”It is the parental or supervisory responsibility to make sure these problems don’t occur,”” Ulreich said.

    Roy Spece, a law professor and Faculty Senate member, said the vagueness of the interim policy leaves some faculty members worried that if they comply and admit to a relationship, it will come back to hurt them.

    “”You should only be punished if there is favoritism in a relationship and it is willful and knowing,”” Spece said. “”This chance that you may be removed should only be used on egregious violations.””

    The policy will have to encompass other kinds of close relationships that do not include any romantic or sexual qualities, Spece said. For example, a conflict of interest could occur if a professor and student are close friends.

    If you fall in love with a student, then you immediately remove yourself from teaching that student.
    – John Ulreich, English professor

    “”It is an ambiguous situation. …That is where knowing and willful comes in, because it is not only about sex. We are trying to be fair to everyone,”” Spece said.

    The new policy will now have go back to the Academic Personnel Policy Committee, where it will be voted on. It will then be voted on in an upcoming Faculty Senate meeting, Ulreich said.

    “”Ultimately, the president of the university (Robert Shelton) will have the final say,”” Ulreich said.

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