The University of Idaho's faculty senate unanimously approved a revised policy dealing with student-teacher and supervisor-subordinate relationships Tuesday afternoon, according to the university’s press release.
According to the policy, if a romantic or sexual relationship develops between two people where one of them has authority or influence over the position of the other, the relationship must be reported to a supervisor. The working or academic relationship will then have to change to remove the conflict of interest.
Though the policy revision has been in the works for about a year, the murder of Katy M. Benoit at the hands of her former professor and lover Ernesto A. Bustamante spurred the change forward, he said.
“This is the kind of action that I expected the University of Idaho to take,"UI President M. Duane Nellis said in the university's press release."I appreciate the leadership of our Faculty Senate for facilitating and expediting this matter. Our policies need to be as strong as possible and provide clear safeguards and guidelines for members of our university community.”
Previously, consensual relationships within the university where there was a power inequality were considered "unwise," but not prohibited, Faculty Senate Chair Paul Joyce said.
"We felt that was way too weak," he said.
The policy was brought before the faculty senate last week, but some of the members voiced concerns about the wording of the revised policy, Joyce said. The senate debated about a portion of the revision that dealt with reporting prohibited relationships and how to mitigate the situation.
Due to confusion with part of the wording, some of the language of the policy was rewritten and the policy was brought before the senate a second time, he said.
Now that the senate has approved the revised consensual relationship policy, it will go before the general faculty during a meeting on Dec. 13 for action, according to UI’s press release. It will then go to the president for his signature. After being signed, the policy would take effect immediately.