Concordia University has issued guidelines that will require instructors to disclose in writing any relationship with a student and withdraw completely from all professional duties relating to the student.
Failure to reveal a conflict of interest could result in disciplinary measures for violation of the university's code of ethics, Concordia said Friday.
The guidelines follow recent allegations of sexual misconduct involving members of its English department's creative writing program.
Two current creative writing professors at the Montreal university were removed from their classes following allegations levelled at instructors.
In response to the allegations, Concordia president Alan Shepard announced three measures: an investigation into the allegations; a meeting with students, faculty and staff in the creative writing program; and the launch of a university-wide assessment "of our current environment."
The new guidelines were already planned because the Quebec government had previously tabled a bill requiring universities to develop policies for intimate relationships between students and faculty.
The bill spurred the province's universities to revisit their sexual-violence policies.
"Because of the power imbalance that exists in the academy, the university discourages, in the strongest possible terms, any consensual romantic or sexual relationships between instructors and their students," Graham Carr, provost and vice-president of academic affairs, wrote in a note to the university community.
"At the very least, such relationships constitute a real or perceived conflict of interest and should be avoided."
Some had called for an outright ban of relationships, something Carr acknowledged was discussed.
But for legal reasons, Carr said it's not possible to ban consensual instructor-and-student relationships – something the province also realized while drafting its Bill 151.