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Statement on Amorous Relations

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Amorous relations between persons, one of whom exercises power, authority or influence over the other with respect to academic standing, for example faculty and student or teaching assistant and student (where grading responsibilities are involved in the assistantship), are inherently problematic and therefore strongly discouraged. It is the responsibility of a faculty member or teaching assistant to avoid such relationships and to remove himself or herself from any position of supervision or evaluation of a person with whom he or she has an amorous relationship.

The core of the dilemma created by such relationships is reflected in the conflict between two principles that we often invoke in assessing our relationships with one another in the Knox community. On one hand, each member of the community is an adult, free to associate with other adults as he or she wishes, subject only to the limits imposed by the law and his or her own moral compass. On the other hand, when these associations develop into amorous relationships, the amour is virtually impossible to disentangle, either rationally or emotionally, from dominant/subordinate institutional relationships. Such circumstances inevitably blur motives and intentions, inviting exploitation or the perception of it, especially perhaps in retrospect, and making the consensual nature of the amorous relationship necessarily suspect.

Maintaining appropriate boundaries in relationships can be especially difficult in a community like ours where informal, supportive relations between faculty and student outside the classroom are not only permitted but encouraged as a part of the special opportunities for teaching/learning which Knox College provides as a small liberal arts college.

Added to these considerations should be the troubles all of us humans have in interpreting each other's works and actions, even in the most innocuous of circumstances.

Knox College expects all members of the community to monitor carefully their own conduct. The College holds employees to the highest professional standards of conduct and urges students not to use personal relationships for purposes of academic self-interest.

Knox College urges anyone who suspects that his or her intentions have been misunderstood to assume the responsibility for clarifying those intentions.

Knox College urges those who feel uncomfortable in their relationships with others to say so, either directly to the person making him or her uncomfortable, or to an intermediary who can convey the message.

Refusal to alter behavior appropriately in response to such a message and/or any reprisal, whether formal or informal, whether within or outside the institution context, is a form of sexual harassment.

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Printed on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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