Faculty Perceptions of Consensual Sexual Relationships Between University Faculty and Students


Consensual sexual relationships (CSR) between faculty and students at universities are a growing issue for administrators. Often times, administrators view these relationships as potential sexual harassment cases given the power disparities that often exist between the parties involved. Therefore, many universities have written policies essentially equating CSRs to sexual harassment. Despite the recent growth of these policies, how faculty compare CSRs and sexual harassment is often overlooked, particularly as it relates to perceived power differentials. The current study examined responses from 166 faculty members to explore these perceptions. Results indicate faculty had varying opinions, depending on previous experience with CSRs and beliefs around power differentials. These findings contribute to previous literature which indicates there is rampant ambiguity and subjectivity when defining and handling CSRs on campus.

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  1. 1.

    In accordance with faculty demographics of the university studied, our sample seems to closely represent the demographic characteristics of our faculty.

  2. 2.

    Since the survey did contain possibly identifying information such as the respondent’s department and demographic information, anonymity could not be guaranteed, hence the guarantee of confidentiality.

  3. 3.

    This item was reverse coded for the scale.


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Correspondence to April Carrillo.

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Carrillo, A., Crittenden, C. & Garland, T. Faculty Perceptions of Consensual Sexual Relationships Between University Faculty and Students. J Acad Ethics 17, 331–343 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-019-09337-1

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  • Consensual sexual relationship
  • Dual role relationship
  • Faculty and student sexual relationship
  • Faculty ethics