While we obviously do not wish to regulate the private lives of faculty members, we advise all faculty members to avoid close personal relationships with students (PhD as well as Master’s and undergraduate students) or any person at the university for whom they have a professional responsibility. Personal relationships include, but are not limited to, marital, sexual, romantic or emotional relationships. Professional responsibilities include, but are not limited to, teaching, grading and supervising.
Close personal relationships across different hierarchical levels, i.e. between faculty members and students, always imply power differentials. Consequently, any close personal relationship is potentially exploitative or could at any time be perceived as exploitative. There can be problems in maintaining the boundaries of professional and personal life, potentially leading to abuse of power. Involved parties are always at risk of accusations of favouritism or bias. In addition, such relationships may impose negative effects for third parties. These include, but are not limited to, a hostile climate for a certain group of faculty members, i.e. women, disruptions of the teaching and learning environment and undermining the trust in academic processes.
Members of the faculty are expected to disclose close personal relationships with students or any person at the university for whom they have a professional responsibility to the Dean of the Department. This also includes pre-existing or former personal relationships. More generally, members of the faculty are expected to disclose any factors that (potentially) compromise their professional actions and decision making. We recommend to abstain from professional decisions and actions that affect others’ outcome whenever there is a risk of being emotionally compromised.