In an email yesterday to presenters on the program for the 2019 meeting, CAMWS made known that the association had approved a code of conduct for its meetings.
The code of conduct outlines unacceptable behavior, specifying that “pejorative verbal comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, disability, or physical appearance,” among many other types of harassment, will not be tolerated. Importantly, this code of conduct does not limit harassing behavior to only the specific examples it outlines, leaving room for continued and added protection as technologies and techniques shift.
The new code also specifies consequences for violators, including removal from the meeting and prohibiting future attendance. Moreover, it specifies reporting procedures; victims and witnesses are encouraged to report unacceptable behavior immediately to any on-site CAMWS officer or through email to the CAMWS President (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Secretary-Treasurer (email@example.com).
Additionally, the email sent to presentes makes clear that CAMWS supports the Statement on Professional Ethics from the Society for Classical Studies. This statement provides a guideline for what constitutes professional behavior in a number of different circumstances, from employment to publishing. This statement seems also to be a response to “a number of requests to intervene on behalf of individual members in situations involving violations and alleged violations of professional ethics.”
The adoption of this code of conduct comes after racist comments and actions at the annual joint meeting of the AIA/SCS targeted people of color in the classics community. Since our last post on the AIA/SCS incidents, many reflections have been published, including:
- Some Concrete Suggestions post-SCS, Yurie Hong, Classics and Social Justice
- On Context: AIA-SCS 2019, Seeta Chaganti, Medievalists of Color
- What Future, Classics?, Rebecca Futo Kennedy, Classics at the Intersections
Other sources have been collected on the Society for Classical Studies blog. Many have called for, at the very least, public statements supporting diversity and inclusiveness and the adoption of policies protecting marginalized groups.
Though the racist incidents that these write-ups profile are indicative of deeper issues in the field, ensuring institutional support for victims is a crucial step in protecting their involvement. A code of conduct won’t protect people from harassment, but it is a necessary start for establishing that such behavior is not wanted, at our conferences or in our field. CAMWS’ endorsement of this code of conduct is a welcome advancement.