No sex please, we’re Queensland unis
QUEENSLAND universities are getting behind a nationally proposed "bonk ban" for PhD students and their supervisors - with some having already gone further to prohibit any student-teacher relationships.
Universities Australia yesterday released its new principle for institutions to sign up to which says any such relationship are never acceptable due to the power imbalance, as part of a broader bid to stamp out sexual harassment and assault on campus.
The action reflects the sex ban issued by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to stop ministers having affairs with their staff, following the Barnaby Joyce scandal.
Universities in Queensland have already begun circulating the principles among staff and students.
But some, including University of Southern Queensland and QUT, already have stricter provisions in place, while University of Sunshine Coast has appointed "consent is sexy" ambassadors.
USQ director (student wellbeing) Dr Christie White said the university had introduced a code of conduct last year which extended the "bonk ban" to any student-teacher relationship, including undergrads.
"Postgraduate studies is one of the most likely areas a relationship could form, but we apply it across the entire university," she said.
QUT has similar provisions, but also rules out sexual relationships between senior and junior staff working directly together.
A QUT spokeswoman said those relationship had been prohibited for many years, but they were circulating the Universities Australia document to higher-degree research student officers.
James Cook University requires any burgeoning student-teacher relationships to be reported within 10 working days, or else the faculty member could face penalties for breaching the code of conduct.
A University of Queensland spokeswoman said abuse of power would not be tolerated.
"We recognise that consensual relationships can occur… our policies require that relationship to be declared and appropriate management actions taken to ensure any conflict of interest is avoided," she said.
A University of Sunshine Coast spokesman said the institution would use the UA principle as a basis to review its policies.
It has also implemented other provisions to crackdown on sexual harassment, including training 75 students as "consent is sexy" ambassadors to promote open discussion about respect and consent.
A Griffith University spokesman said the institution had zero tolerance for sexual assault or harassment, and welcomed the guidelines, which "underpin any direct supervisory relationship between an academic supervisor and their research student".
Central Queensland University requires students and supervisors to report any relationship that may pose a conflict of interest, such relationships include (personal, commercial or employment-related).