ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan announced major policy changes Monday that affect faculty members on all three campuses.
Staff members will no longer be allowed to have romantic or sexual relationships with students. Starting next year, violating the rule could result in suspensions or firings.
U of M has long discouraged relationships between faculty members and students, but now the school is prohibiting it outright.
"The faculty-student relationship is really special," said Rick Fitzgerald, from U of M public affairs. "There's a lot of mentoring and instruction -- in some cases one-on-one -- and we want to be clear about what the boundaries are for those relationships."
In years past, faculty members were required to disclose relationships with students. The new policy states faculty members can't have romantic or sexual relationships with undergraduate students or graduate students in the same discipline or where the faculty member might have authority.
The policy also applies for graduate student instructors and post-doctoral fellows. They can't have relationships with students in the classes they're teaching or grading.
"Much of the focus in recent years has been on student sexual misconduct, and now we're broadening that scope to include faculty and staff as well," Fitzgerald said.
The policy change follows the recommendations from a working group comprised of faculty members on all three campuses. Students in Ann Arbor overwhelmingly supported the idea.