UConn bans professor-student relationships

Liz Goodwin
Senior National Affairs Reporter
Yahoo! News
UConn Professor Investigated For Sexual Misconduct
The University of Connecticut will pay an outside law firm to investigate its own employees` handling of allegations the school received as early as 2006 that a music professor engaged in sexual misconduct.

Trysts between students and professors are no longer allowed at the University of Connecticut.

The state university adopted a new policy this week that bans romantic relationships between undergraduates and faculty, as well as between graduate students and faculty members who have influence on students' careers, for fear the relationships could become exploitative.

“The power difference between faculty and staff as compared to students means that any romantic relationship between a faculty or staff member and a student is potentially exploitative or could at any time be perceived as exploitative,” UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement.

It’s unclear how many other universities explicitly bar the relationships. The American Association of University Professors endorsed such policies in 1995, saying that sexual consent from students is “suspect” because of the power differences between them and professors.

Any professors currently in relationships with their students have three months to report themselves to the university. The administration won’t break up these couples that preceded the new policy, according to its fact sheet on the issue, but it will make sure the professor does not oversee the student. Violations can lead to firing.

The new policy comes at a time when the public university of more than 30,000 students is facing criticism over how it handled allegations that one of its professors had sexual contact with minors, the Hartford Courant reported. The music professor, Bob Miller, was placed on administrative leave this year, though school employees were told between 2006 and 2011 of the allegations.

Miller is accused of sexually touching four boys who attended a camp for sick children where he was a counselor. A faculty member also reported last year that a student accused MIller of visiting the college's dorms to provide drugs and have sex with students, the AP reported. UConn is hiring an outside law firm to evaluate its response to the allegations.

The policy defines romantic relationships as “intimate, sexual, and/or any other type of amorous encounter or relationship, whether casual or serious, short-term or long-term.”