Dual relationship policy reviewed after problems at other institutions

by Katie AnthonyStaff Writer

Given the recent amount of media attention on inappropriate relationships between professors and students, Simpson faculty have taken the time to review the Simpson College dual relationship policy.

The policy for dual relationships at Simpson specifically states that any form of relationship between a professor and student is “not acceptable.”

The revisions are precautionary, as no actual violations to the policy have been reported.

“As of right now, there are no cases [of dual relationships] that I know of or that have been reported to me,” Steve Griffith, vice president and dean of academic affairs, said.

A dual relationship is noted as one, “in which a College employee has both a professional and a romantic or sexual relationship with a student. This includes those relationships that appear to involve genuinely mutual consent.”

Those partaking in the relationship cannot even plead mutual consent due to the specifics of the stated policy: “given the inherent inequality of a dual relationship, what may appear to one participant as totally voluntary may in fact entail exploitation; thus, the College will not accept a defense against subsequent charges on grounds of the relationship being consenting.”

This matter is not taken lightly if these relationships happen to be reported.

Some of the repercussions of these actions include transferring of the student or professor involved, resignation of the college employee or an extended leave of absence for the employee involved.

While students may not be familiar with the exact terms of the policy, some said the implications are pretty clear.

“I don’t know what the policy specifically is, but I think that the obvious thing is don’t do it,” junior Lynnette Snyder said. “I think that teachers and students that do have such romantic relationships are dumb and ruin the close relationships that form between students and teachers at such a small school like Simpson.”

Griffith said the ability to have the open-door policy for teachers and students allows for a community feel, one of the selling points for Simpson.

“I think that it’s [the open-door policy] one of the hallmarks of this institution, and one of the things that is valued here,” he said.

It’s that Simpson hallmark that draws in the new students, and it was a factor in the college choice for many current Simpson students.

“The open-door policy wasn’t necessarily the main reason I chose Simpson,” freshman Emily Adams said. “However, that policy was something that really drew me to Simpson. It would be sad if that policy was negatively impacted because something went wrong or someone violated the dual relationship policy.”

Other students fear that they won’t be able to keep their close friendships with professors due to the changing times and the possibility of false allegations.

“I don’t want my teachers fearing their jobs if I want to stop in and talk with them,” Snyder said. “I also don’t want other teachers, faculty or students skeptical of what our relationship is. I think that I have some awesome friendships with teachers here that I don’t want to lose because of fear.”

The entire dual relationship policy can be read on the Simpson Web site.