Board Policy - Sexual and Romantic Relationship

Policy Statement 

Tompkins Cortland Community College prohibits sexual or romantic relationships between College employees, or between College employees and students if there is an existing direct or indirect supervisory, evaluative or instructional relationship. There is an exception if the relationship is disclosed to the College, and supervision, evaluation or instruction is terminated. 


Tompkins Cortland Community College is committed to providing a work environment free of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and conflicts of interest. To fulfill this obligation and commitment, persons in positions of supervisory, evaluative or instructional authority are prohibited from initiating or engaging in sexual relationships with any employees or students over whom they have any authority or responsibility, either directly or indirectly. 

Sexual and romantic relationships between College employees and students and/or managers or supervisors and their subordinates create potential conflicts of interest and power differentials. Potential conflicts of interest may arise when individuals have responsibility for advising, supervising or evaluating the academic or work performance and/or making personnel decisions involving those with whom they have an intimate relationship. When faculty, staff and students exercise power and authority over other faculty, staff and students whether due to current supervisory, instructional or other professional responsibility, or perceived influence or control over an educational or work experience, a power imbalance is created, which may impede the real or perceived freedom of the faculty, student or employee not to enter into a sexual or romantic relationship or to terminate or alter that sexual or romantic relationship. 

To address this imbalance, the State University of New York Board of Trustees requires all SUNY campuses (State operated campuses, community colleges and statutory colleges) adopt a specific sexual and romantic relationships policy. 


Sexual and Romantic relationship – shall mean and refer to any relationship, either past or present, which is romantic, intimate, or sexual in nature and to which both parties consent or consented. 

Student – shall mean and refer to any person applying to the College or currently enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in any course or academic program associated with the College. 

Employee – shall mean and refer to any person whose primary role within the college community is as a member of the faculty or staff.  

Supervisory, instructional, evaluative, or other professional responsibility – shall mean and refer to any of those situations where the employee is responsible for evaluating, teaching, supervising, advising, mentoring, coaching, counseling, providing extracurricular oversight, supervision of research, and/or employment of a student and/or staff, and/or otherwise participating in or influencing votes or decisions that may reward or penalize a student and/or staff. 

Process and Potential Outcomes 

If a sexual or romantic relationship exists between faculty, staff, or students where there is a supervisory or reporting relationship, the employee must inform the Department of Human Resources. 

Alternative supervisory, evaluative or instructional roles will be created to ensure that any supervision, evaluation, or instruction of the employee and/or student, and from any activity or decision that may appear to reward, penalize, or otherwise affect the status of the employee or student. 

Alternative reporting structures will be established for pre-existing relationships or marriages provided that the relationship is reported as required. 

Discipline may be imposed for any individual failing to follow the terms of the policy, up to and including termination. 

Applicability of the Policy 

This policy applies to all College employees and students. 


Effective Date: 


March 1, 2019