Amorous or Sexual Relations

No.  3-32a   Rev.  5-9-19  ed 7-23-23 Date   6-1-95    




PPM 3-32, Discrimination and Harassment

PPM 9-5, Faculty Responsibilities to Students

PPM 9-6, Faculty Responsibilities to Colleagues

PPM 3-33, Discipline (Staff Employees)

Utah Code Ann. § 63G-7-301

Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-404.1


Amorous or sexual relationships between University employees and either other employees or students where there exists a power imbalance in the relationship damages the perception of WSU's integrity as an academic institution in the eyes of the community at large, and imperil its commitment to a professional atmosphere in which individuals are judged solely by their ability and performance in the eyes of its own employees and students. Such amorous or sexual relations may also harm the persons involved, especially the individual who holds less administrative authority (or power). Hence, such amorous or sexual relationships entail the possibility of abuse and create concerns about conflicts of interest and the validity of consent. This policy establishes the professional standard of care described in Utah Code Ann. § 63G-7-301(4)(a)(ii).


A. Amorous or sexual relationship: A romantic, sexual or dating relationship, including any sexual conduct between two individuals.


B. Educational opportunities: a student’s admission to the University or programs within the University, receipt of financial aid/scholarships, assessment of academic performance, provision of references or letters of recommendation in an official capacity, and evaluation for graduation. 


C. Special trust employee:  Any employee of the University who is in a position of authority or influence over a subordinate.  This includes:

         1. an employee who is in a position of special trust toward a student as described in Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-404.1, including, but not limited to, an instructor, professor, current or former athletic manager; coach; counselor; supervisor; recreational leader; religious leader; doctor or physician; and who is in a position to adversely impact a student’s educational opportunities; and

        2. an employee who is in a position to supervise another employee or otherwise engage in reviews or decision-making within the University on any matter concerning the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, including but not limited to, hiring, appointment or reappointment, retention, promotion, salary, or discipline.


D. Subordinate: An employee or student over whom a special trust employee is in a position of authority or influence as described in Section II.C.


            A. Relationships of Concern

          The University views amorous or sexual relationships between a special trust employee and a subordinate, as a power relationship that undermines and/or eliminates the ability of the subordinate to provide consent to engage in a welcome amorous or sexual relationship.  A special trust employee may not engage in an amorous or sexual relationship with a subordinate.  Such relationships constitute a serious conflict of interest that is prohibited unless resolved in accordance with this policy.  Unresolved conflicts as described herein are a violation of this policy.  They also violate PPM 9-5, Faculty Responsibilities to Students, when they involve relationships between students and faculty.

           Special trust employees shall not share any sexually explicit or lewd communication, image, or photograph with a subordinate student. This does not  include any communication, image, or photograph that is shared between faculty and students that is demonstrated to be part of a legitimate academic    exercise, for example as part of pedagogical requirements for health, science, or art courses. 

          B. Retaliation

          Special trust employees may not use their position to penalize, retaliate against, or reward, either directly or indirectly, a subordinate with whom he or she is having, has had, or who has rejected, an amorous or sexual relationship.

         C.  Mandatory Actions and Responsibilities

               1.  In the rare instance a special trust employee desires to engage in an amorous or sexual relationship with a subordinate, the special trust employee must eliminate all authority or influence the employee has over the subordinate.  In order to ensure compliance with this prohibition, before a special trust employee expresses feelings or otherwise takes action toward beginning, engaging in, reciprocating, or continuing an amorous or sexual relationship with a subordinate, the special trust employee must notify his or her immediate supervisor or department chair and/or the Executive Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity.  If the special trust employee chooses to notify their supervisor or department chair instead of the Executive Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, the supervisor or department chair must notify the Executive Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity. The supervisor or department chair, may, but is not obligated to, approve the request and work with the special trust employee and subordinate to make alternate arrangements that will eliminate the authority or influence the special trust employee has over the subordinate. This may mean removing a student from a class, removing an employee from a supervising or subordinate position, creating alternate lines of authority, or otherwise removing any decision-making authority or influence the individual in the position of authority or influence has over the person in the subordinate position. This may also involve an investigation to determine if consent has been freely given. The faculty or staff member may recommend individuals to be included in this decision-making.

               2.  A University employee or faculty member who fails to follow the procedures outlined in this policy, and implement the required alternative arrangements to eliminate the authority or influence, violates this policy.  Such violation is also a breach of faculty ethics under PPM 9-5 when the relationship is between a faculty member and student, and PPM 9-6 when the relationship is between a faculty member and a colleague. (This applies the same rationale and technique employed in the similar situation of nepotism when family members' participation is limited - PPM 3-6.) Such conduct may also violate PPM 3-32 unless the higher power individual complies with the procedures outlined herein to demonstrate that the relationship was welcome.

              3.  Because third parties may be harmed by an amorous or sexual relationship in this circumstance, any individual or University official has the right to initiate a complaint under this policy.

                   Because engaging in an amorous or sexual relationship where there is a relationship of authority or influence without proper management may constitute a violation of PPM 3-32, all "responsible employees" as defined in PPM 3-32 must immediately report violations of this policy to the Executive Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, who will review any violations in accordance with PPM 3-32.