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University of Missouri considers ban on some relationships


Columbia, MO – University of Missouri leaders are considering whether to limit some relationships between professors and students at UMs four campuses.

The policy would ban consensual romantic or sexual contact when one person has direct supervisory authority over the other.

University President Elson Floyd says the proposal was not triggered by any specific incident, adding there are already sexual harassment policies. The new rules simply would broaden those protections to include consensual relationships.

University curators are expected to vote on the "amorous relationiship" policy in December. If approved, the policy also would apply to supervisory employees and their subordinates.

Curator Angela Bennett, the board's president, said such relationships particularly those between professors and their students are fraught with the potential to damage the weaker partner, even if the contact starts out as a harmless connection between two consenting adults.

"Those relationships sometimes go south," she said.

"It's not breaking new ground," said Floyd, who added that many other universities already have similar policies.

The proposal doesn't explicitly ban professor-student or supervisor-subordinate romances but calls for the professor or supervisor to step down from that role relative to his or her romantic partner.

Violations would be investigated by university officials under existing grievance procedures, with possible disciplinary sanctions including termination.

Complaints could also be generated by outside parties deemed to "have been adversely affected personally."