LETTER TO THE EDITOR: CRPC members explain recommendation rationale

To the Editor:

Last week an editorial was published in the Cornell Sun criticizing the Consensual Relationship Policy Committee’s recommendation to President Martha Pollack of policy CRP-A that bans relationships between graduate/professional students and faculty who work in the same graduate field or degree program over CRP-B which allows for such relationships “provided there is disclosure and an appropriate recusal plan.” The contention lies over the failure of the policy committee to make it’s recommendation solely based on majority votes from the Student, Employee and University Assemblies, as well as the Faculty Senate as the author(s) of the editorial declares that “both pertinent branches of shared governance (the GPSA and Faculty Senate) voted overwhelmingly against the recommendation.”

While the author(s) of the editorial does take into account that the policy committee was candid in stating that “the votes held by the Student, Employee and University Assemblies, as well as the Faculty Senate, were nonbinding and would only be ‘considered’ by the committee,” the policy committee’s provided rationale, which can be found in the final report is also described in the editorial as not adequate. Therefore, members of the Assemblies and Faculty Senate “deserve to know why their opinions were disregarded.”

The policy committee has acknowledged the division among the Cornell Community on CRP-A in the summary portion of the final report provided to President Pollack for consideration. Appreciating that CRP-A comes at the cost of limiting people’s freedom of association, the committee has also recommended that the policy be revisited in three years to ensure it is appropriately serving the Cornell Community. The Consensual Relationship Policy Committee, of which is made up of undergrads, graduate/professional students, postdocs, staff and faculty spanning fields across campus, was charged to craft an easy to abide by policy, taking into consideration research on other university policies, cases where consensual relationship policies failed to protect both students and faculty, and look into the broader context of societal change relevant to differentials in power dynamics in relationships, not act as a governing body responding to its constituents. Creating a policy that would set into place clear boundaries for the broadest population was a response to this research and became an important mandate in recommending CRP-A.