Consensual Relationship Policy and Procedure

TMCC's Consensual Relationships Policy (#2523) and Sexual Harassment Policy (#2521) prohibit romantic or sexual relationships in circumstances in which one of the individuals is in a position of direct professional power over the other. In that circumstance, both the College and the person in the position of superior power are vulnerable to charges of harassment from the person in the position of lesser power or from third parties.

Where such relationships exist and no complaint has been made, a verbal or written warning shall be given to both involved parties by the director, dean, Vice President or President.

Only a formal complaint regarding the relationship will involve the Title IX Coordinator in investigating the complaint.

Definition of a Professional Power Relationship

  • A faculty member or supervisor will always have direct power over a student or employee when the faculty member has the authority to assign grades or the supervisor has the authority to influence promotion or tenure.
  • A faculty member holds such direct power in other circumstances such as in matters of admissions and advisement.
  • The same principles, which apply to the faculty-student relationship also govern administrative faculty and classified staff in their relationships with students.

Faculty, staff and administrators should be aware of the possibility that an apparent consensual relationship with a student or a subordinate may be interpreted either at the time or later as nor-consensual and, therefore, constitute sexual harassment. This type of relationship may pose an extreme challenge to TMCC since it serves a traditionally adult population. Faculty, staff and administrators involved in consensual relationships with students and persons under their supervision possibly compromise their capacity to be fair and objective. They need to be aware that a sexual relationship may give rise to a perception on the part of others that the capacity of the faculty member or the supervisor to evaluate objectively has been compromised. The power differential inherent in a faculty-student relationship and the potential interference with a supervisor's ability to make decisions thus may call into question the bona fide consensual nature of a relationship.

Faculty and students or supervisors and subordinates entering a romantic or sexual relationship where no professional power differential exists should be aware that power differentials might change. Therefore, all members of TMCC are encouraged to avoid situations that may cause difficulties.

If any party involved in such a relationship is in doubt whether a professional power differential does exist, he or she should consult with the department head, dean, supervisor or the affirmative action office. Even when there does not appear to be such a power differential in a relationship, the parties involved are advised to consult with the department head, dean or the affirmative action office.