- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The University of Hawaii revealed a new policy Tuesday that bans faculty members from having consensual romantic relationships with students in their classes.

It comes amid a national trend to prohibit professors from dating their students at schools including Harvard, Yale and Arizona State University. Many universities created the policies as the federal government urged them to boost efforts to prevent sexual assault on campus.

The Hawaii rules emerged after the school’s president created a group to review university policies across the country. The policy bans dating or sexual relationships when there is a “clear power differential” and says enforcement will be on a case-by-case basis.

“I am very pleased that we were able to convene a group of people to address something that should have been done a long time ago,” University of Hawaii President David Lassner said.

The university system has 57,000 students on 10 campuses. It came under fire two years ago when it was among dozens of schools that the U.S. Department of Education started investigating over how they handled sexual assault allegations.

Meda Chesney-Lind, a women’s studies professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa, called the rules long overdue and said they should help to curb “ugly situations” at the flagship campus.

“We’re not in the business of providing people with vulnerable students that they can sexually exploit,” said Chesney-Lind, who was part of the group that drafted the rules.

The university adopted interim rules last year to crack down on sexual assault, but they didn’t explicitly address consensual relationships between students and professors. School policy previously discouraged faculty and students from dating but didn’t prohibit it.

Many U.S. colleges have not had formal policies addressing romantic relationships between faculty and students. In recent years, schools have created rules ranging from banning professors from dating students to prohibiting it only when a professor might be grading a student.

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