Consensual Relationships Policy (OSU)


An Employee of the university shall not exercise any Academic or Supervisory Responsibility for a person with whom they have a Consensual Relationship.


Reason for Policy

University Human Resources is committed to maintaining an inclusive and empowering learning and work environment free from conflicts of interest, impropriety, and favoritism. Consensual romantic, intimate, or sexual relationships can create a conflict of interest when one of the parties has Academic or Supervisory Responsibility for the other party. Consensual Relationships in this context can compromise the integrity of the exercise of Academic or Supervisory Responsibility, create the potential for abuse of authority, or cause a conflict of interest due to the perceptions of third parties.

Integrity can be compromised when individuals evaluate the work or academic performance of other individuals with whom they have a Consensual Relationship. Interest in the Consensual Relationship can impair the judgment required to exercise institutional responsibility or authority.

Power may be abused within a Consensual Relationship between an Employee and someone for whom they have supervisory, decision-making, evaluative, academic, or advisory responsibilities. For example, there is potential for using the academic or supervisory role to maintain or promote the relationship. 

Another potential problem involves perceptions of third parties who may feel they have lost equality in terms of assignments, promotions, etc., and who may feel that the only way to succeed is to engage in a romantic, intimate, and/or sexual liaison.

Sexual harassment is distinguishable from situations covered by this Policy. For additional information, please refer to University Policy 05-001 Sexual Misconduct and Discrimination.


Academic Responsibility:  Having authority on behalf of the university for academic advancement, grades, instruction, evaluation, or supervision of any student.

Consensual Relationship: Any relationship or contact of a romantic, physically intimate, or sexual nature, where one of the parties has Academic and/or Supervisory Responsibility for or authority over the other or is involved in the evaluation of the other party whether the other party is an employee or a student. 

Employee: All persons employed by the university, including, but not limited to, academic faculty, professional faculty, classified staff, law enforcement professionals, graduate assistants, and student employees.

Student: A person who is enrolled at Oregon State University.

Supervisory Responsibility: Having authority on behalf of the university to hire, promote, make salary decisions, discipline, evaluate, grade, write recommendations, formally advise, or direct an employee or student. Examples of positions holding supervisory responsibility include but are not limited to teacher and student, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, mentor and trainee, advisor/adviser and advisee, teaching assistant and student, principal investigator and postdoctoral scholar or research assistant, and coach and athlete.

Addressing Academic or Supervisory Responsibilities

  • An Employee entering or in a Consensual Relationship as defined in the Policy, or a current or prospective Employee offered a position who will be in such a relationship should the position be accepted, shall immediately:
    • Report the relationship to a higher-level administrator, to the hiring official, or to an administrator above the hiring official; and 
    • Cooperate in actions taken to eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest and to mitigate adverse effects on third parties.
  • The administrator or official who receives the report shall treat the information confidentially and shall promptly:
    • Consult with the Employee and Labor Relations Office; and 
    • In cooperation with the Employee and Labor Relations office, eliminate conflicts of interest and mitigate adverse effects by:
      • Transferring one of the individuals to another position;
      • Transferring Academic and/or Supervisory responsibilities or providing an additional layer of oversight to the Academic and/or Supervisory role; and 
      • Document the steps taken.

This policy prohibits Consensual Relationships between individuals who hold Academic or Supervisory responsibility for an employee when effective arrangements to remove the conflict and mitigate adverse effects cannot be made.


Failure to Comply

Non-compliance with this policy will lead to possible disciplinary action in accordance with the appropriate collective bargaining agreement and OSU Policies and Standards.



Retaliation against persons who report concerns about consensual relationships is prohibited and constitutes a violation of this Policy.


Guidance, Consultation, and Complaints

If there is any doubt whether a relationship falls within this policy, individuals should disclose the facts of the relationship and seek guidance rather than fail to disclose the relationship.

Anyone with concerns, questions, or complaints about this Policy or its implementation should contact Employee and Labor Relations.