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work environment

Recent discussions in the profession have drawn attention, not only to the existence of certain types of problematic behavior in academic settings, but to the fact that such behavior is more common than many people realize. The Philosophy Department thus expresses its commitment to maintaining a positive learning and working environment.  In pursuit of this goal, we do not tolerate any acts of exploitation, discrimination, harassment, or any other unacceptable behavior by any employee or student against another member of our community.  In particular, we pledge to adhere to the following principles:

As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students.  They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline.  Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors.  (AAUP, Statement on Professional Ethics)

The integrity of the faculty-student relationship is the foundation of the University's educational mission.  This relationship vests considerable trust in the faculty member, who, in turn, bears authority and accountability as mentor, educator, and evaluator.  The unequal institutional power inherent in this relationship heightens the vulnerability of the student and the potential for coercion.  The pedagogical relationship between faculty member and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning consistent with the goals and ideals of the University ... .  (CU Faculty Handbook, Principles of Professional and Ethical Responsibilities)

In addition, we express our commitment to the Philosophy Department's Code of Conduct Concerning Relationships, and expect all members of our community to adhere it.

Some of the University's official policies and information on these matters can be found on these pages:

The Department would like to highlight the following information from these pages:

Discrimination is conduct that deprives an individual of a benefit of employment or educational opportunity on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or veteran status.

Harassment based upon any of these Protected Classes is conduct that interferes with an individual's work or academic performance or participation in University programs or activities, and creates a working or learning environment that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or hostile.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual attention that unreasonably interferes with an individual's working or learning environment. It may involve intimidation, threats, coercion, sexual advances, request for sexual favors or other verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. To constitute harassment, the behavior must be severe or pervasive. Examples of sexual harassment include

  • repeatedly pressuring an individual for dates or sexual favors
  • repeatedly giving or sending inappropriate gifts, calls, letters or e-mails
  • promises or rewards (a better grade, or a promotion) in return for sexual favors
  • unwelcome physical contact.

If you think you have experienced or witnessed harassment,

  • tell the harasser to stop, in person and/or in a letter
  • discuss the situation with someone you trust
  • keep records
  • report the incident promptly to ODH.

If you are the victim of sexual harassment, this document provides a summary of your rights and options, and of the processes that will be used by ODH.

Amorous Relationships exist when two individuals mutually and consensually understand a relationship to be romantic and/or sexual in nature. There is a conflict of interest when a direct evaluative relationship exists between two employees or between an employee and a student either during an amorous relationship or within seven years after one has occurred. In such circumstances, the procedures described in the Conflict of Interest in Cases of Amorous Relationships document should be used.


The Climate Committee's Advice to Students

The Climate Committee is committed to identifying problems with the climate in the department, and improving it through problem-solving and recommendations for the department as a whole.

The Climate Committee offers the following advice to undergraduate and graduate students, in light of University policies on discrimination and harassment. These recommendations were endorsed and adopted by the faculty of the Department on Friday 3/15/2013.

1) Dates and romantic attachments with faculty members are permitted. However, they are subject to the Amorous Relationships Policy which states that for the duration of the relationship, and up until seven years from the time that such a relationship ends, the faculty member must recuse himself or herself from any supervisory or evaluative role with respect to the student. This includes not just teaching, but also advising, sitting on thesis committees, and writing recommendation letters. It is the responsibility of the person in the evaluative position to make sure that the policy is followed.

  1. Thus students should be aware that if a faculty member invites a student on a date, and the student is willing, then any expectation of a professional advising relationship must be terminated.
  2. Faculty members are expressly forbidden from any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with students enrolled in their classes whom they are evaluating. Should a sexual or romantic relationship begin, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to report such a relationship (to the Chair, and in the case of the Chair, to the Associate Dean), and terminate the evaluative immediately by finding someone else to grade the students' papers and exams.
  3. However brief or long-lasting such relationships may be, students should be aware of the serious risks and disadvantages involved. They may find themselves without an advisor to work with in the area they hoped to work in, or may find it difficult to continue to pursue their studies.
  4. Similar considerations make it important for students to try to maintain a level of professionalism in all interactions with faculty.

2) Students receiving unwanted attention of a sexual or romantic nature have several recourses available to them.
  1. If such attention is unwanted, they should say 'no' firmly and clearly. Students are sometimes worried about the consequences of saying 'no' to unwanted attention, even after it has come to a stop. Students should be reassured that the best and wisest course is to say no to such attention clearly and if possible in writing.
  2. Another option is to report the unwanted sexual attention to the ODH so that a neutral office can intervene and communicate the unwelcome nature of the conduct on the student's behalf and protect the student from future retaliation.
  3. If such attention persists, and 'no' doesn't work, then the student should go to the Director of Graduate Studies, the Climate Committee, or the Chair, who should report it to ODH as well (see (5) below). Such attention constitutes sexual harassment, as defined by the University Policy on Sexual Harassment (#5014): "Sexual harassment consists of interaction between individuals of the same or opposite sex that is characterized by unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, living conditions and/or educational evaluation; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for tangible employment or educational decisions affecting such individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment."
  4. If students are concerned about retaliation, then we recommend that the student approach the DGS, Chair, or a member of the Climate Committee for advice about how to handle it. Also, we note that if retaliation does occur, it must be reported to ODH, because the Sexual Harassment policy of the University covers retaliation just as much as cases of harassment.
  5. If, on the other hand, a faculty member or instructor makes an advance toward a student, and it is accepted, the Amorous Relationships policy dictates that the faculty member cannot continue to function in a supervisory or evaluative role with respect to that student, and must recuse himself or herself from any such role, e.g., by declaring this to his or her supervisor, e.g., the Chair or Dean. Thus, the student can expect:
    i. That her application to graduate school will not be evaluated by the faculty member.
    ii. That her grades will not be determined by the faculty member.
    iii. Other faculty members can write letters of recommendation based on work that was originally done for another teacher, or take over an advising relationship.
  6. If there is any indication of a violation of the Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy, this must be reported to the ODH (Office of Discrimination and Harassment). We strongly encourage all members of the department to report alleged misconduct to the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH). Keep in mind that there is no statute of limitations for ODH complaints, and that the formal or informal investigation of a complaint, once made, can be delayed until the student feels comfortable with proceeding.


Dominic Bailey
David Boonin
Eric Chwang
Carol Cleland
Iskra Fileva
Graeme Forbes
Benjamin Hale
Chris Heathwood
Adam Hosein
Michael Huemer
Alison Jaggar
Dan Kaufman
Mitzi Lee
Alastair Norcross
Graham Oddie
Robert Pasnau
Rob Rupert
Raul Saucedo
Michael Tooley
Ajume Wingo
Michael Zimmerman


Philosophy Department, UCB 232, Boulder, CO 80309-0232
Hellems 167  |  Phone: (303) 492-6132  |  Fax: (303) 492-8386
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