Prohibited Relationships

What is a prohibited relationship?

In July 2020, The Board of Governors approved amendments to the Sexual Misconduct Policy, including a stipulation that prohibits intimate relationships between students and many faculty and staff.

This change is in recognition of the critical role that power plays in sexualized violence, and in particular, the impacts of power on consent. The Policy recognizes that many faculty and staff are in positions of trust and students experience heightened vulnerability relative to faculty and staff.

The Policy stipulates that Prohibited Relationships are “sexual or intimate relationships between individuals in the following classes of members of the UBC community where there is a supervisory role or where an individual has influence over a student’s current or future academic activities, working conditions, or career advancement” (Sexual Misconduct Policy, Section 4.1.9).

Examples of prohibited relationships

  • Faculty, or teaching staff members, or emeriti and students
  • Staff and students
  • Coaching staff members and student athletes
  • Faculty, or Teaching Staff Members, or emeriti and Medical Residents, Clinical Fellows, or Postgraduate trainees in the Faculty of Medicine

Power and consent

Consent must be entirely voluntary and freely given, and free from interference due to misuse of power and authority or fear of consequences and reprisal for not consenting. The Policy recognizes that there is an “inherent risk that consent is not voluntary whenever there is a relationship of trust or authority in which there is an imbalance, or perceived imbalance of power” (Sexual Misconduct Policy, Section 4.1.9), because someone may fear consequences for not consenting.

Consequential actions do not have to be intentional, but can occur in the form of loss of favour, of comfort, and many other subtle forms that can have enduring impacts. As a result, prohibiting relationships where such power dynamics are created through our roles in this community protects us all.

Disciplinary action

Prohibited relationships constitute Sexual Misconduct, and under the Policy, faculty and staff involved in prohibited relationships will be “subject to disciplinary action notwithstanding that the relationship is claimed to be consensual” (Sexual Misconduct Policy, Section 1.1).

Relationships that predate this revision to the Policy but would be prohibited under it must be “disclosed to the Administrative Head of Unit who will take appropriate steps pursuant to the University’s conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policy” (Sexual Misconduct Policy, Section 1.13).

See details within the Sexual Misconduct Policy.