Consensual Relationships

The university presumes that the ability to make objective decisions is compromised if there is a romantic and/or sexual relationship between two individuals who have a reporting or evaluative relationship. There is almost always a power differential between such individuals that not only obscures objectivity but also influences perceptions of consensuality. The individual with the power or status advantage is required by university policy to report the relationship to his or her supervisor and will be accountable for failing to make this report. The supervisor who learns of the consensual relationship has the responsibility to make appropriate arrangements to eliminate or mitigate a conflict whose consequences might prove detrimental to the university or to either party in the relationship, particularly the person in the subordinate role. Supervisors can consult with any campus resource for assistance in meeting this responsibility.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Policy on Consensual Relationships applies when:

  • one member of a couple supervises the other or teaches in an academic program in which the other member is enrolled
  • one member of a couple will vote on or substantially influence the other's salary, job contract, promotion, or other condition of employment
  • one member of a couple is the other's instructor or grader in a course or degree program, or is in a position to influence the other's academic progress