The Ethics Committee reports to the Board of Directors (Board) and is responsible for assisting the Board in upholding SSA’s commitment to the highest ethical professional standards. The Ethics Committee is not a standing committee and will meet only as needed. Ethics Committee members will act in good faith and exercise honest judgment, free from conflicts of interest.
The Ethics Committee has three main responsibilities:
- Ethics Awareness & Outreach: Upon joining the Ethics Committee, each member will participate
in an orientation to learn about SSA’s Professional Ethics Policy and other related
standards. At least once per year, the Ethics Committee will prepare a written statement
reminding SSA members of the Society’s ethics standards and why adherence to such standards is
important. (SSA’s staff will work with the Ethics Committee to distribute these annual reminders.)
- Membership & Awards Revocation Requests: SSA members and awardees are expected to
adhere to commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity. In the rare
cases in which SSA members and/or awardees no longer meet this expectation based on proven
violations of Section E of the Professional Ethics Policy, the Ethics Committee will review and
manage formal requests to revoke an individual’s status as a member or awardee. All such
requests shall be managed in accordance with SSA’s Membership & Awards Revocation
Procedures. The Ethics Committee will maintain an anonymized log of revocation
requests as detailed in the procedures.
- Recordkeeping & Reports to Board of Directors: The Ethics Committee will submit a written report to the Board once per year to help the Board monitor the effectiveness of SSA’s ethics policies and procedures. The written report will include three parts:
- Summary of the Ethics Committee’s awareness and outreach efforts (see #1 above)
- Anonymized log of revocation requests handled pursuant to SSA’s Membership & Awards Revocation Procedures (see #2 above)
Anonymized log of formal complaints handled under SSA’s Meetings Code of Conduct and Publishing Ethics Guidelines. SSA’s Executive Director will provide these logs to the Chair of the Ethics Committee annually for inclusion in the Ethics Committee’s ethics report to the Board. (While the Ethics Committee is not responsible for handling these program-level complaints, including these logs in the annual report ensures oversight and streamlines the Board’s review process. In addition to these required components of the report, the Board encourages the Ethics Committee to recommend any changes that would strengthen SSA’s commitment to ethics.
Composition & Term
The Ethics Committee is comprised of five individuals including the Ethics Committee Chair (typically a past president or Board member) and four other representatives from among the following committees: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Honors, Meetings, Membership, Publications. (SSA’s 2 President and the Ethics Committee Chair have the discretion to select the four remaining Ethics Committee members. In doing so, they may recruit any qualified members from among the above committees, except Board members. Board members are ineligible for the Ethics Committee to prevent conflicts of interest.) Ethics Committee members generally will serve a two-year term or until they have finished reviewing any revocation requests that were submitted during their two-year term. If a real or perceived conflict of interest would interfere with an Ethics Committee member’s ability to perform their responsibilities objectively and in good faith, SSA will draw from a a pool of qualified former Presidents or Board members, who have finished their initial terms serving on the Ethics Committee. The most recent former President or Board member will be asked to serve first, and if they have a conflict, the next most recent will be asked and so on. If none of the former Presidents or Board members is available to serve due to a conflict of interest or another reason, the Ethics Committee Chair will ask the chairs of the SSA committees represented on the Ethics Committee to appoint a replacement member.
The Ethics Committee has been constituted and authorized by the Board of Directors pursuant
Section 2.04 of SSA’s Bylaws, which states in pertinent part that a “membership shall be suspended or
terminated whenever the Board [of Directors] (the “Board”), or a committee or person authorized by
the Board (emphasis added), in good faith determines that … (e) … the member has failed in a
material and serious degree to observe the Society’s rules of conduct, or has engaged in conduct
materially and seriously prejudicial to the corporation’s purposes and interests.”
SSA’s Membership & Awards Revocation Procedures delineate the procedures the Ethics
Committee shall follow in reviewing and managing reviewing revocation requests. These Procedures
have been designed to comply with the Society’s bylaws. The Board of Directors has the final
authority to determine whether to grant any requests to revoke membership or rescind awards.