New policy prohibits relationships with students

By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief

A new policy prohibiting any Newman faculty, staff or coaches from engaging in any romantic, dating or sexual relationships with undergraduates is intended to prevent a potential abuse of power, Provost Kimberly McDowall Long said.

“The policy is not about student behavior, it’s about people in power’s behavior,” she said.

Previously, Newman had a Consensual Amorous Relationships Policy created in 2011 that prohibited only relationships in which “one participant has direct evaluative or supervisory authority over the other.”

The decision to update the policy, Long said, came after she noticed the old policy did not adequately make “the line between instructors and students” clear enough.

“It didn’t actually say a professor can’t date an undergraduate student, so I thought there was a gap in our policies,” she said.

The policy acts as a supplement to the Amorous Relationships Policy and current Title IX policy. Many of the Title IX policies at Newman, Long said, were updated last year.

Long said after doing research, she found that only 30 percent of colleges and universities in the country had a policy prohibiting professor and student relationships, but she said that the number is growing in recent years.

“One of the articles I read said something to the effect of, ‘Where are universities in this #MeToo movement?’ And it specifically cited that we’re living in an age where you’re accountable for what your people do,” Long said.

The new policy, Long said, will be more consistent with how the diocese trains people who work in parishes with children.

“Not that undergraduate students are children, but the power differential is fairly extreme,” she said.

There have been relationships between students and faculty at Newman in the past, Long said, but said she is “aware of nothing ongoing.”