Policy on Student Treatment and Guidelines for Conduct in Teacher-Learner Relationships

Statement of Philosophy

Tufts University School of Medicine is committed to fostering an environment that promotes academic and professional success in learners and teachers at all levels. The achievement of such success is dependent on an environment free of behaviors, which can undermine the mission of our institution where an atmosphere of mutual respect, collegiality, fairness, and trust is essential to that mission. Although both teachers and learners bear significant responsibility in creating and maintaining this atmosphere, teachers also bear particular responsibility with respect to their evaluative roles relative to student work and with respect to modeling appropriate professional behaviors. Teachers must be ever mindful of this responsibility to conduct themselves professionally in their interactions with their colleagues, their patients, and those whose education has been entrusted to them. Abusive behavior or mistreatment of anyone in the learning environment is prohibited.

Responsibilities in the Teacher-Learner Relationship

Responsibilities of Teachers

  • Treat all learners and fellow teachers with respect and fairness.
  • Treat all learners and fellow teachers equally regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
  • Provide current materials in an effective format for learning.
  • Be on time for didactic and clinical encounters.
  • Provide timely feedback with constructive suggestions and opportunities for improvement/remediation when needed.

Responsibilities of Learners

  • Treat all fellow learners and teachers with respect and fairness.
  • Treat all fellow learners and teachers equally regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
  • Commit the time and energy to your studies necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of each course.
  • Be on time for didactic and clinical encounters.
  • Communicate concerns/suggestions about the curriculum, didactic methods, teachers, or the learning environment in a respectful, professional manner.

Behaviors Inappropriate to the Teacher-Learner Relationship

Inappropriate behaviors are those which demonstrate disrespect for others or lack of professionalism in interpersonal conduct. Although there is inevitably a subjective element in the witnessing or experiencing of such behaviors, certain actions are clearly inappropriate and will not be tolerated by the institution. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • loss of personal civility including shouting, arguing, personal insults or attacks, displays of temper (such as throwing objects);
  • requests for others to perform inappropriate personal services unrelated to the didactic or clinical situation at hand;
  • grading/evaluation on factors unrelated to performance, effort, level of achievement or professionalism;
  • unwanted physical contact (e.g. hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing) or the threat of the same;
  • sexual harassment or harassment based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
  • consensual romantic relationships between teachers and learners in which the teacher has authority over the learner’s academic progress
  • discrimination of any form in teaching and/or assessment based upon age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or sexual identity or expression.

Resources for Advice and Conflict Resolution

Any concerns, problems, and complaints may be discussed without fear of retaliation with various individuals in the Medical School community including the course director, clerkship director, Dean of Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Students, Associate Dean for Enrollment Services, Assistant Dean/Registrar or the Director of the Student Advisory and Health Administration Office. 

Procedures for Handling Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior in the Teacher/Learner Context

If a student decides to file an official complaint, this must be done through the Dean of Student Affairs. The Dean of Students will investigate the complaint and attempt to resolve the matter informally. If the complaint cannot be resolved informally, the matter will be forwarded to the Dean of Clinical Affairs who will conduct his/her own investigation and take appropriate action. Either party may appeal the decision/action of the Dean of Clinical Affairs to an ad hoc grievance committee. The committee will be appointed by the Dean, and consist of two faculty members drawn from the Faculty Senate and one student representative drawn from the Student Council. The decision of the ad hoc grievance committee may be appealed to the Dean, whose decision will be final.