Rutgers Moves To Ban Professor-Student Romantic Relationships


Rutgers University has taken further action to tackle sexual assault and sexual harassment on its campuses.

Last year, we reported that Rutgers had eliminated its two-year time limit on sexual harassment complaints. The university will now investigate all such complaints, regardless of how much time has passed since the incidents. At the same time as the university reported this change, the president formed a committee to “attack the problems of sexual harassment” and recommend further changes.

Committee Recommendations Address Relationships, Disclosure and Training

The Rutgers University Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention has issued a lengthy report with more than 20 recommendations.

A key recommendation would prohibit romantic or sexual relationships between faculty members and students. Central to this proposal is the fact that there is a substantial power difference between students and faculty and, therefore, “consent” may be difficult to determine. Currently, Rutgers does not have any policy limiting these relationships.

Other components in the committee’s recommendations include:

  • Comprehensive disclosure requirements. Currently, faculty are not required to disclose to the university any policy violations or allegations of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior.

  • Anti-harassment training. As of today, there are no training programs for deans, department heads, faculty, staff or students on preventing or handling any type of harassment.

  • Creation of an “R is for Respect” campaign to disseminate the university’s “no tolerance” harassment stance.

  • Documenting violations in personnel files for reappointments, promotion or tenure committees.

An important committee goal is that students will feel more comfortable reporting harassment or inappropriate treatment because they know the university will respond appropriately.

With these actions, Rutgers joins many colleges and universities across the U.S. in reevaluating its policies in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

The Rutgers committee recommendations must be approved by the Board of Governors before implementation.

Let Us Know If You Have Been a Victim of Sexual Harassment or Assault

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