4-7: Interpersonal Relationships

Policy Overview

This policy emphasizes the importance of the integrity of employee-student interpersonal relationships at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College). This policy also addresses interpersonal relationships among faculty, staff and students generally to ensure integrity and success within the College community.

Scope and Applicability

This policy outlines the expectation of respectful interpersonal relationships at SFCC and applies to all SFCC employees and students.

Policy Statement

All employees play an important role in the success of students and other employees. Appropriate relationships among employees and students are valuable, and can include roles such as mentor, advisor or informal counselor. Thus, employees are expected to demonstrate respect for everyone within the College community and do their jobs free of improper considerations related to interpersonal relationships. Faculty are additionally expected to promote the highest standards of academic conduct.


  1. Coercion Means the use of implicit or potential threats to influence someone to take an action they would not otherwise take of their own volition absent the threats.
  2. Consensual Relationship Means any dating, romantic or sexual relationship free of coercion.
  3. Employee is any member of the college workforce: all staff (regular full-time, regular part-time, term, temporary, probationary, sensitive position); all student employees; all faculty (full-time, part-time, adjunct, probationary); all administrators, including interim; all contract employees.
  4. Evaluating means any situation in which an employee sits in judgment of another person in the College community. For example, a faculty member who is on a committee determining an award, scholarship, program admission, eligibility for financial aid, disciplinary action of any kind, etc., is evaluating that student. A staff member who is doing a performance assessment is evaluating another staff member.
  5. Faculty Employees whose position is to instruct students.
  6. Near Relative for purposes of this policy, include spouse, domestic partner, parents, brothers, sisters, children, stepparents, stepbrothers and stepsisters, stepchildren, parents-in-law, brothers- and sisters-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law, and the immediate family members (parents, brothers and sisters, and children) of spouses and domestic partners, or is a person who receives financial support of more than 25 percent of their annual income, or is a person claimed as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. This policy applies whether the relationship exists at the time of election or is established later.

Policy Process

  1. All employees are prohibited from having a romantic, amorous or sexual relationship with a student under the age of 18. A sexual relationship with a minor may be chargeable as a felony under the criminal code.
  2. The unequal power inherent in the relationship of faculty-student, supervisor-worker or any employee relative to another member of the College community who needs a service provided by the employee increases the risk of coercion. All employees are prohibited from evaluating the work of a near relative or of someone with whom they are in a romantic, amorous or sexual relationship or if potential exists for such a relationship.
  3. All employees are prohibited from allowing personal feelings about someone to influence their job performance.
  4. In the case of a for-credit class, a faculty member may obtain an exception to the prohibitions in Policy Process subsections B and C if the faculty member’s supervisor and the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs agree that:
    1. There is a compelling academic interest involved, such as the class is required to complete a course of study;
    2. Another faculty member has been assigned and has agreed to grade and evaluate the student’s work in that class; and
    3. After inquiry with the faculty member, student or both, there is no reasonable cause to believe that coercion exists, and the faculty member’s supervisor is satisfied that criteria for grading and measures to address any other potential conflicts of interest have been sufficiently discussed with the student, the faculty member, and the faculty member responsible for grading the student’s work.
  5. A faculty member may obtain approval from their supervisor, after consultation with their Dean, to allow a student to enroll in the class of a faculty member with whom the student has a consensual relationship or is a near relative of the student if the class is a noncredit course or is being audited and the faculty member will not perform any formal evaluation of the student’s work.
  6. Any employee who violates this policy may be subject to SFCC Policy 4-2 Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action up to, and including, termination of employment or termination or nonrenewal of their contract. The discipline imposed will depend on the severity of the violation and the circumstances of the situation.
  7. Any employee found after investigation to be in a coercive relationship with another member of the college community, whether that coercion is based on age differential, physical power, economic power, or any other improper basis for coercion, may be found to be in violation of SFCC Policy 4-10 Sexual Harassment.

Statement of Accountability and Responsibility

The President, through the Vice President for Strategy and Organizational Effectiveness, the Director of Human Resources and the Title IX Coordinator, shall be responsible for enforcing human resources policies and procedures. The Office of Human Resources shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention, and remediation.


SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action
SFCC Policy 4-6 Nepotism
SFCC Policy 4-9 Discrimination and Harassment
SFCC Policy 4-10 Sexual Harassment

SFCC Governing Board: 5/22/08
Revised and Governing Board approved: 2/28/18


Associated Procedures