Consensual Relationships

Handbook of Operating Procedures 3-3050

Consensual Relationships

The University of Texas at Austin

Executive Sponsor: VP for Diversity & Community Engagement

Policy Owner: Associate VP - Office for Inclusion and Equity

November 1, 2001



  1. Policy Statement

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin ("University) that employees with direct teaching, supervisory, advisory, or evaluative responsibility over other employees, students and/or student employees recognize and respect the ethical and professional boundaries that must exist in such situations. Consensual relationships, as defined in this policy, create conflicts of interest and/or appearances of impropriety that impair the integrity of academic and employment decisions. Such relationships also contain the potential for exploitation of the subordinate employee, student or student employee and the possible professional or academic disadvantage of third parties, and can subject both the University and individuals to the risk of liability. Therefore the University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisors and students. Should such a relationship develop, the teacher, supervisor or advisor has the obligation to disclose its existence to an immediate supervisor and cooperate in making alternative arrangements for the supervision, evaluation, teaching, grading, or advising of the employee, student and/or student employee.


  1. Scope

This policy applies to all faculty, staff and students of The University of Texas at Austin.


  1. Definitions

A consensual relationship is a mutually acceptable, romantic and/or sexual relationship between a University employee with supervisory, teaching, evaluation or advisory authority and an employee, student and/or student employee who is directly supervised, taught, evaluated or advised by that employee.


A conflict of interest and/or an appearance of impropriety arises when individuals with the authority and the responsibility to evaluate the work or performance of an employee, student or student employee initiate, acquiesce or engage in an intimate romantic and/or sexual relationship with that employee, student or student employee.


  1. Reporting Responsibility

In the event that a consensual relationship exists or begins to develop, the individual in the supervisory, teaching or advisory position shall immediately notify his or her immediate supervisor of the relationship and cooperate with that supervisor in making the arrangements necessary to resolve the conflict of interest.


  1. Immediate Supervisor Responsibility

A supervisor who is notified, or becomes aware, of a consensual relationship, shall take immediate steps to alter the conditions that create the conflict of interest and/or the appearance of impropriety caused by the relationship. In most instances, that will be accomplished by providing an alternative means for the supervision, teaching, advising, and/or evaluation of the subordinate employee, student or student-employee.


  1. Failure to Report or Cooperate

Employees in positions of authority who enter into or persist in consensual romantic or sexual relationships without reporting them, or who fail to cooperate in efforts to eliminate the conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety they present, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. In the event that a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct is brought by the subordinate party regarding an unreported relationship, there will be no presumption that the relationship was consensual in nature.


  1. Grievance of Disciplinary Actions

Disciplinary actions imposed for violations of this policy may be grieved or appealed by the individual who is disciplined pursuant to existing University policies and procedures.


For Assistance: Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students or the Office for Inclusion and Equity..



Editorial changes made Feb. 17 2016, March 7, 2016, April 21, 2016

Previously PM 4.110, HOP 4.A.2