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Section 1.20.05: University Policies Addressing Faculty-Student Relations

The school subscribes to the policies regarding student-faculty relations found in the University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide, which can be found at

Faculty are expected to be available for consultation with students, to respect the civil and institutional rights of students, to deal equitably and fairly with them in academic matters, to support students in their own development within the university community, and to set a high example in professional conduct both with respect to personal and corporate responsibilities and with respect to modes of dealing with ethical issues. Faculty are also expected to understand and comply with provisions made for participation by students in campus decision-making both university-wide and within the subordinate units. (Social work students are encouraged to participate in several student-faculty committees that make policy recommendations to the school's governing faculty. The Social Work Student Union coordinates student participation on these committees. See also volume 1, section 15.00.)

The School of Social Work's Faculty Handbook also speaks to student-faculty relationships. Faculty are expected to be aware that their positions of authority, their identity as experts and as role models, and the general deference with which students relate to them can give a faculty member great power and influence over students. Thus, relationships with students outside the academic context must be treated with special caution, care, and professional integrity.

Financial transactions between faculty and students are discouraged. Any financial transactions between faculty and social work students must be approved by the dean.

Faculty members shall not accept students in the School of Social Work as social work clients.

The university's policy on sexual harassment applies to faculty-student relationships. The relationship between faculty and adult students, however complex it may be, is ultimately and structurally asymmetrical. Like any professional relationship, it rests upon a special form of trust and reciprocal respect. Sexual relationships between faculty members and students risk diminishing or even voiding this trust and respect. Moreover, the asymmetry of this relationship means that any sexual relationship between a faculty member and a student is potentially exploitive and should be avoided.

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