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Conflict of Interest - Outside Employment or Professional Relationships

It is in the interest of SUNY Canton to provide a clear statement to the college community about the professional risks associated with a college employee or student performing work or providing professional services for another college employee or student not related to college business where a definite power differential between the parties exists based upon their respective roles at the College. These relationships are inappropriate for two primary reasons:

  1. Conflict of Interest
    Conflicts of interest may arise where one employee or student performs paid or unpaid work or provides professional services for another employee or student not related to college business. University policy, and more general ethical principles, preclude individuals from evaluating the work or academic performance of others at the College with whom they have a professional relationship with not related to college business or from making hiring, salary, or similar personnel decisions concerning such persons. These principles require, at a minimum, that appropriate arrangements be made for objective decision-making with regard to the student, subordinate, or prospective employee.
  2. Abuse of Power Differential
    Although many conflict of interest issues can be resolved, in a professional relationship outside the College involving a power differential stemming from the parties’ working relationship at the College, the potential for serious consequences for the College and the individual remains. Individuals entering into such relationships must recognize that:


    • The reasons for entering into such a relationship may be a function of the power differential.
    • Even in a seeming consensual relationship, where power differentials exist there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of conflict of interest or abuse of power.
    • The individual with the power in the relationship will bear the burden of accountability.
    • Such a relationship, whether in class or work situation, may affect the educational or employment environment for others by creating an appearance of improper, unprofessional, or possibly discriminatory conduct.

It should also be noted that should any complaint be lodged regarding a conflict of interest, abuse of power, or sexual harassment a consenting relationship is no defense, and appropriate disciplinary action, including termination, may follow.