Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Cheryl Terrance


Consensual, sexual relationships (CSRs) involving university faculty members and students are not uncommon (Richards et al., 2014). Given the increased attention of sexual harassment on college campuses, a number of universities have implemented CSR policies that generally fall into three categories: total ban, limited ban, and discouragement. Despite the intention of these policies,--the prevention of sexual assault and harassment--they have been criticized for being vague and too general (Bellas & Gosset, 2001; Jafar, 2003). Examining student perceptions can provide inside into university culture and inform policymaking. To this end, participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions stemming from a 2 (romantic dyad: male professor/female student vs. female professor/male student) x 2 (student status: undergraduate vs. graduate) between-subjects factorial design, asked to read a vignette, and respond to a series of questions designed to measure perceptions of CSRs, those involved in them, and the policies that concern them. It was hypothesized that perceptions of CSRs involving a female student would be viewed significantly more negatively than the relationship involving the male student. This was anticipated to especially be the case when the female student is an undergraduate student as opposed to a graduate student. Results did not support the hypotheses. Reasons for null findings, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.