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Romantic and Sexual Relationships Between Faculty/Staff and Undergraduate Students

Columbia University’s educational mission is promoted by the professionalism of its faculty- student relationships. This professionalism is reflected not only in the quality of the intellectual exchange between faculty and students but also in the nature of their interactions as members of a community of scholars. The academic freedom traditionally accorded to members of the faculty imposes a correlative obligation of responsible self-discipline, one that acknowledges the power they exercise over students and the importance of protecting against its abusive or exploitative use.


Romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students pose a threat to academic professionalism as they compromise the faculty members’ judgment of students. More importantly, because of the power differential, romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students are highly susceptible to being experienced as non-consensual or coercive.


Undergraduate students are particularly vulnerable to the power asymmetry of the student- teacher relationship. In recognition of that, this policy modifies the current policy of the University with respect to undergraduate students, which states that no faculty member is to have a romantic or sexual relationship with any student over whom he or she has or might reasonably expect to have academic or professional authority. The current University policies with respect to romantic relationships between faculty and other students (including but not limited to graduate students, and/or executive students) remain in effect.


To see the full text of this policy, please use the link on the right.