Queen’s policy restricts relationships between students and University employees.
On June 29, the University released an Interim Policy on Employee Sexual Misconduct Towards Students. This policy prohibits romantic or sexual relationships between Queen’s employees and undergraduate students. Under the policy, all relationships are prohibited regardless of whether it’s consensual.
The policy was created in response to the Government of Ontario’s July 1 deadline for all universities and colleges to implement a policy addressing sexual misconduct between employees and students.
According to the new policy, the University strongly discourages all sexual or romantic relationships between employees and students, which includes communications with students that are sexual or romantic in nature.
All allegations of sexual misconduct are submitted to the Office of the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity and Inclusion), according to the policy.
While the government didn’t require Queen’s to prohibit employee relationships with undergraduates, the policy protects undergraduate students, whom the University deemed especially vulnerable to power dynamics due to their age and relative lack of maturity, according to a press release.
The decision aligns with sexual misconduct policies at other higher education institutions, such as Harvard University.
Any employee re-employed by Queen’s who had previously been terminated for sexual misconduct will be terminated again.
An external review of Queen’s sexual misconduct policy from February outlined the importance of setting clear boundaries for employee and student relationships. The external reviewers Joanna Birenbaum, Elaine Craig, and Sonia Lawrence are all legal experts in sexual violence and equality.
“A clear standard in the sexual violence policy signals to students that if they are subjected to unwanted attention, they don’t need to doubt themselves or prove to the university that the conduct was not consensual,” the report stated.
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