Tips for Faculty

Those in authority always carry the element of power in their relationships with subordinates. Behavior that may be acceptable in a social environment could be viewed as inappropriate in the classroom or workplace. The following tips are to protect you as a faculty member from any perception or accusation that you are acting unprofessionally.

The Ohio University Sexual Misconduct Policy expressly prohibits amorous relationships between a student and anyone having grading, advisory, or supervisory authority over that student. This means that as a faculty member you cannot pursue a romantic or intimate relationship with any student you teach, supervise or advise. Close social relationships may be perceived as creating bias in favor of a student whom the faculty member teaches, supervises, or advises.

The reasons for the policy provision are:

  • Amorous relationships in the educational context raise concerns about the validity of consent.
  • The disparity of power between persons involved in amorous relationships (such as teacher and student, supervisor and subordinate) creates the possibility of exploitation.
  • Possibility of a future amorous relationship may distort the present instructional or advisory relationship.
  • A perception amongst students-peers may arise that there is unequal attention and/or resources given in your courses or program.

If you choose to become involved with a student for whom you have academic or supervisory responsibilities, you need to disclose this to your department chair or school director, so the power relationship can be addressed. If you feel you are personally being sexually harassed, contact your department chair or school director, as well as the Office for Institutional Equity.

The following tips are to protect you in your teaching, supervisory and advisory duties from any perception or accusation that you are acting unprofessionally.

  • Be thoughtful about choosing the time and place to discuss any material with a student.
  • Consider leaving the door open during office hours or meetings with students.
  • Be selective about the details of your personal life you share with students. Avoid discussing sexual or intimate subjects that are unrelated to the course material.
  • Document and discuss with your department chair or school director any student behavior that is troubling.
  • Establish a climate of respect in your classroom; interrupt/address offensive or inappropriate comments from students in the classroom.
  • Be very cautious about sharing jokes, cartoons or other material that be misinterpreted by students as sexually provocative.
  • Do not distribute contact information of students in your class unless you have permission to do so.
  • You may not wish to provide your own home telephone number.
  • Remain aware of who you call on in class and how you respond to their comments. Try to call on male and female students with equal frequency and be aware of whose comments you validate.

For examples of harassing behavior, click here.

As a faculty member, you may receive complaints about harassment.  Any member of the University community who receives a complaint of sexual harassment from a student or other member of the University community is required to report the behavior to the Office for Institutional Equity. If the complaint is about a staff member at the Office of Institutional Equity, report it to the Office of Legal Affairs.

If you witness another member of the Ohio University being sexually harassed, you should report the harassment to the Office for Institutional Equity. Ohio University's sexual harassment policy protects a third-party complainant from retaliation. Any member of the University Community who has a question about his or her responsibilities under this policy should call the Office for Institutional Equity, the Office of Legal Affairs, or University Human Resources.

The Office for Institutional Equity can provide assistance and guidance on how to respond to situations that risk being defined as harassment in the classroom.