4.18 Consensual Relationships

  1. General 

    The existing Governing Board Policy on Hiring of Relatives prohibits employees from being involved in any employment or key decision that involves a relative. This would include work performance, job assignments, or pay related matters. In that such relationships can create a conflict with the interests of the Maricopa Community Colleges, and the increased potential for nepotism and favoritism, the same principles also apply in the case of consensual amorous, romantic and/or sexual relationships that occur between employees or between employees and students.


    In the work and academic environment, such a relationship that might be appropriate in other circumstances is inappropriate if one of the individuals in the relationship has a professional responsibility toward, or is in a position of authority with respect to, the other, such as in the context of supervision, instruction, coaching, counseling or advisement. An element of power is present in such a context and it is incumbent upon those with authority not to abuse that power. In addition, consensual relationships may yield to third parties the appearance that unfair bias or favoritism towards the student or supervisee is taking place.

    1. Definitions
      1. Consensual relationships are defined as romantic, amorous and/or sexual relationships between consenting employees or between employees and adult (18 years or older) college students currently enrolled at one of the community colleges.
      2. An employee is any individual who is employed by the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD). An employee includes an individual who is subject to an established employee job group policy manual, whether regular, full-time board approved, at-will, part-time, and/or temporary. An employee also includes a contract worker (special services employment, request for personnel services) working or serving as an agent or designee on behalf of the MCCCD.
      3. student is considered to be any person currently enrolled in a credit or non-credit class at one of the colleges or centers within the Maricopa County Community College District.
      4. vendor is someone who sells or can sell products or services to the Maricopa County Community College District.
      5. recent consensual relationship is considered to be one that has taken place within the past 24 months.
    2. Prohibited Conduct
      1. An employee shall not maintain, engage in or be involved in a consensual relationship with another employee who is subject to that individual’s supervision or with a student that is currently enrolled in the individual’s class, or a student whom the individual otherwise instructs, coaches, counsels or advises, or with a vendor if the employee manages that contract or otherwise exerts influence over the contract.
      2. The Governing Board recognizes that the personal life of its employees is not a concern of the institution, and therefore, this regulation does not seek to prohibit romantic relationships that exist between parties where the context of power-authority between employees or between employees and students is not present; and provided that the relationship does not affect the employee’s effectiveness in fulfilling his or her professional obligation. For these instances, appropriate measures should still be taken in order to avoid conflicts of interest from occurring. For relationships that may exist prior to the time that either a student or employee is placed in a situation of instruction or supervision that is considered to be a conflict of interest, the employee(s) involved shall disclose and take immediate measures to avoid the conflict or appearance of conflict.
  2. Procedures for Disclosure 

    Employees should first avoid allowing an inappropriate consensual, amorous or sexual relationship to develop with a supervisee or student.
    1. Where the employee is already in or has had a recent consensual relationship with a supervisee, the following procedures shall be followed:
      1. Immediate disclosure by the employee of the relationship to their supervisor and to the appropriate Vice President or Vice Chancellor in order to ensure that any conflicts of interest have been adequately addressed.
      2. The respective administrator responsible for the department or division shall place the subordinate under alternate supervision when a supervisor under his/her direction has or has had a recent consensual relationship with the employee.
      3. The supervisor shall recuse himself or herself from any discussions or involvement with decisions related to evaluations, promotion, hiring, determination of salary, or continuation of contract or employment.
      4. The respective Vice President or Vice Chancellor shall prepare and retain a report that specifies the appropriate alternate arrangements that have been made to eliminate the conflict of interest. The EEO/AA Office shall be provided a copy of the report along with the employees involved in the relationship.
    2. Where the employee is already in or has had a recent consensual relationship with a student prior to enrollment in his or her class, the following procedures shall be followed:
      1. The faculty member shall counsel and advise the student not to enroll in his or her course.
      2. The Consensual Relationships Policy will be made available to students via the student handbook and other appropriate communications vehicles.
      3. If it is not possible for a student to enroll in another course, section, or course and section at another college due to a requirement for completion of a degree or certificate and no other academic option is available, disclosure of the relationship will be made to the appropriate Department Chair, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs or Vice President for Student Affairs as appropriate for review. The Vice President will refer the matter to the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for consideration. The Chancellor or his/her designee may allow a student to enroll in the class only upon a showing by the student that the enrollment is necessary to avoid an extreme hardship, and upon a showing by the college President or designee that the academic integrity of the student’s enrollment in the class will nevertheless be maintained.
  3. Persons who are married, or were married, are included within the definition of persons that have or who have had a consensual amorous relationship. Disclosure in this instance may be made via the Maricopa Disclosure process [The Annual Acknowledgement and Disclosures form may be found in the Employee Learn Center. Employee credentials are needed to enter secure site].
  4. An employee who fails to follow the requirements established in this policy and who does not withdraw from participation in activities or decisions that may reward or penalize a supervisee or student with whom the employee has or has had a recent consensual amorous relationship, will be considered in violation of policy and will be addressed in accordance with established processes in job group policy manuals.

APPROVED through the Administrative Regulation approval process, February 25, 2009