4.22 – Non-Fraternization

POLICY: The employees of Spoon River College assist the College in meeting its mission of providing a quality higher education in a safe environment for its students. Students are assured that the relationships they develop with employees will always be built upon the highest ethical precepts of the educational profession. To that end, a fraternization policy has been established in order to promote efficient and fair operation of the College, to avoid conflicts of interest, misunderstandings, and complaints of favoritism, supervision problems, morale problems, questions regarding academic achievement, and sexual harassment.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees.


Fraternization/Fraternizing:   For the purposes of this policy, fraternization is defined as the act of engaging in a consensual romantic or sexual relationship, or having a spousal or familial relationship between individuals who occupy different levels of authority within the institution. Such a relationship can be said to occur when a party of higher status and/or power with explicit or implicit authority over or the power to reward or discipline misuses that power with respect to a party of lower organizational status and/or power.

Relative:  A relative is any person who is related by blood or marriage, or whose relationship with the employee is similar to that of persons who are related by blood or marriage.

Retaliation:  Any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity.


  1. To ensure the activities of advising, mentoring, evaluation, and supervision of students or subordinates are conducted fairly, employees are prohibited from the following:
    1. Fraternizing with an employee with whom the employee has a current supervisory/subordinate relationship.
    2. Fraternizing with a student who is currently enrolled in the employee’s class(es).
    3. Fraternizing with a student who is currently a member of an athletic team or club/organization that is coached/advised by the employee.
  2. Preexisting personal relationships, including those between relatives, may be eligible for exemption from this policy (See: Exemptions).
  3. Some professionals employed by the College (e.g., counselors, nurses, childcare workers, etc.) may have more stringent professional standards that must be met for continued licensure and/or certification. This policy does not preclude or replace any guidelines published by a particular professional organization. Spoon River College expects its employees to abide by the guidelines of any professional organization in which they are members in addition to the standards set forth in this policy.
  4. Platonic relationships that develop between employees and students must not breach our ethical standards or jeopardize the effective functioning of the College by giving the appearance of special treatment in the exercise of professional judgment. While fostering these relationships, faculty and staff members are expected to avoid conflicts of interest between their professional responsibilities and their relationships with those whom they supervise, evaluate, or exercise other relationships of power or authority.


  1. Upon request, Human Resources may grant exemptions to this policy if it determines that an otherwise prohibited relationship existed prior to the professional or academic relationship between the parties at the College and does not present a likelihood of abuse of power by or exploitation of either party. Potential exemptions could apply for, among others, spousal and parent-child relationships.


  1. It is the responsibility of all Spoon River College employees to report suspected or known cases of fraternization.
  2. In the event that fraternization arises or exists, the individual with the power or status advantage shall promptly notify his or her immediate supervisor. Failure to report such fraternization will result in disciplinary action.
  3. An employee or student, who may become aware that fraternization exists between other employees or employees and students at the College, is encouraged to promptly report the situation to Human Resources and/or the College’s Title IX Coordinators.
  4. Once fraternization is reported, an investigation will commence. If the investigation finds that the relationship is in breach of this policy, one or more of the following will occur:
    1. Applicants whose employment would give rise to fraternization with an employee of the College will not be hired for any position that creates such fraternization; or
    2. In cases where both individuals are employees of the College, one of the following will occur:
      • Employees will not be assigned or transferred to a department where such assignment or transfer creates fraternization; or
      • The individual with the power or status advantage will be transferred or reassigned, if such a transfer or reassignment is in the interest of the College; or
      • If transfer or reassignment of the individual with the power or status advantage is not in the interest of the College, then, if practicable, all supervisory, evaluative or other duties, the exercise of which can alter the terms and conditions of the other’s employment or educational opportunities, shall be transferred to another supervisory employee of equal or greater power or status; or
      • If the transfer or reassignment of the individual with the power or status advantage is not in the interest of the College and the transfer of the referenced duties is not practicable, the individual with the power or status advantage shall be asked to resign effective on a date determined by the College and if such resignation is not given, the individual shall be terminated.
    3. In cases between an employee of the College and a student who is currently in a subordinate relationship to the employee, through supervisory, advisory, and/or instructional arrangements, the employee of the College will face disciplinary action as outlined in the College’s existing Progressive Discipline policy (See: Policy 3.5.13).
  5. The College prohibits retaliation against individuals because they have reported conduct that they reasonably and in good faith believe to give rise to a violation of this policy or because they have made a complaint regarding such fraternization. Retaliation against an individual for alleging fraternization is a serious violation of College policy and will be treated as a possible instance of harassment or discrimination. Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinators and will be promptly investigated. Spoon River College is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.
  6. Any person making a knowingly false accusation regarding a violation of this fraternization policy and procedure may be subject to disciplinary action.