Meetings Code of Conduct

Meetings Code of Conduct [1]

The Seismology Society of America (“SSA” or “the Society”) is committed to providing a safe, productive, and inclusive environment for “SSA Meetings” that fosters open dialogue and exchange of scientific ideas, promotes full participation and belonging for all participants, and is free of discrimination and harassment. In this context, discrimination and harassment includes unwelcome, exclusionary behavior because of gender or gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, veteran status, age, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, physical appearance, economic status, and/or other identities.

Applicability and Definitions

This Meetings Code of Conduct applies to all “SSA Meetings,” defined broadly as any in-person or online SSA-sponsored or -organized meetings or gatherings, wherever located. SSA Meetings include annual meetings, conferences, workshops, field trips, short courses, mentorships, business meetings involving elected and appointed volunteer leaders and committee members, and any other activities associated with SSA-sponsored meetings or gatherings.

This Meetings Code of Conduct applies to all “Participants” in SSA Meetings.  Participants means organizers, attendees, speakers, session chairs, individuals submitting abstracts, guests, volunteers, exhibitors, staff, service providers, and anyone else in attendance.

SSA members also must comply with the Professional Ethics Policy.

Conduct Requirements

All Participants are expected to comply with the following requirements at SSA Meetings.  SSA   reserves the right to enforce this Meetings Code of Conduct against any Participant found to have violated SSA’s commitment to a safe, productive, and inclusive environment even if a specific behavior is not listed below.

DO DO NOT
Show respect and consideration for others without dominating discussions. Intentionally talk over or interrupt others.
Listen to others. Make room for a diversity of voices in group discussions, on panels, and the like without pressuring those who choose not to speak. Engage in biased, demeaning, intimidating, coercive, or harassing/hostile conduct or commentary, whether seriously or in jest.
Be collegial and collaborative. Be mindful of your tone and the potential impact your position, experience, and/or privilege may have on others. Engage in personal attacks.
Show that you value differing perspectives. Communicate openly and civilly – critique ideas, not people. Comment on personal appearance, seriously or in jest.
Be inclusive and intentional about welcoming a diversity of individuals and their identities when networking, organizing panels, leading sessions, or inviting others to share ideas. Display nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or presentations.
Act professionally and responsibly if you choose to drink alcohol if it is made available at SSA Meetings. Disrupt or engage in violence or abuse, threats of violence, harm, or threats of harm of any kind. Do not create/contribute to a safety threat or unsafe or exclusionary situation.
Report concerns immediately so that SSA can act quickly to address and resolve issues (see section C below for details on how to report concerns). Drink or use other legal intoxicants if it compromises your ability to act professionally.
Respect confidentiality of the identities of any individuals involved in a conduct concern while it is being reviewed and addressed. Invade the personal privacy of individuals. Do not view, take pictures of/record, or distribute pictures/recordings of individuals at times or in places where they reasonably can expect privacy (e.g., bathrooms, breastfeeding rooms, etc.).
Comply with requests to stop behavior. If any leader or facilitator asks you to stop a behavior deemed unacceptable, immediately comply, Take or distribute pictures or recordings (in any medium) of research posters or other research presentation materials unless explicit permission is granted.
Obey the rules and policies of the meeting venue, hotels, SSA-contracted facility, or any other venue where your meeting badge and SSA affiliation is likely to be displayed. Retaliate against or disadvantage anyone for reporting a concern or cooperating in an investigation.
Do not make bad faith accusations.

Note About Differences of Opinion.  Given time limitations, discussions at SSA Meetings should be focused on the meeting topics at hand; all Participants must be able and welcome to participate equitably and effectively. It is not a violation of this Meetings Code of Conduct to express an opinion, raise research, or describe an experience that is at odds with the opinions of or is offensive to others, provided that such expressions are relevant to the topic at hand and are offered in a respectful, civil manner that does not interfere with others’ reasonable ability to feel welcome and able to participate fully.

What To Do If You Have a Conduct Concern

  • Call 911 if an immediate and serious public safety concern exists or is threatened.
  • Act if there is a conduct concern. If you have a conduct concern or are in distress or danger from a conduct concern – or if you see anyone in such distress or danger – act by:
  • Alerting an SSA staff person or volunteer leader
  • Emailing SSA’s Executive Director at nbroadbent@seismosoc.org
  • Submitting the formal complaint form

Investigation Procedures and Consequences

SSA investigates all conduct concerns as promptly, thoroughly, and confidentially as possible.  SSA’s Executive Director (or another qualified individual designated by SSA’s Executive Director) investigates conduct concerns.  SSA staff or volunteers who receive complaints are expected to notify the designated investigator promptly as they are not authorized to carry out investigations themselves.

1. Process to Submit Complaints & Address Conduct Concerns

a. Written Complaint Form Required. SSA encourages Participants to alert the Society of any conduct concerns at the earliest possible stage (using any of the above resources) so that SSA can take appropriate steps to keep SSA Meetings safe.

To launch an investigation, however, SSA requires Participants to submit a formal complaint form.  Complaints may not be considered unless they contain the following information:

  • The name and affiliation of the person(s) submitting the allegation and the name and identifying information of the person(s) alleged to have committed the misconduct.
  • A description of the alleged misconducted, including relevant dates and circumstances.
  • Any documents or other relevant evidence with annotation showing specifically how the evidence supports the allegations.
  • An explanation of how the allegations relate to prohibited conduct under the Meetings Code of Conduct.
  • A statement t explaining any real or reasonably perceived conflict(s) of interest related to any parties named in the allegation and/or anyone involved in investigating it or making decisions on behalf of SSA. This is to ensure a fair and unbiased process. A conflict of interest does not preclude the filing of an allegation.

b. Anonymity & Confidentiality.

  • SSA does not allow anonymous complaints because anonymity may limit the extent to which SSA can fully, fairly investigate and respond to concerns.
  • SSA treats all conduct concerns as confidentially as possible, making a reasonable effort to protect the identity of anyone involved in the investigation process, including targets, accused individuals, and witnesses. SSA may determine that it needs to share information with others to carry out a full investigation and/or facilitate monitoring and oversight of these procedures.  In such cases, SSA will take care to limit what is shared and with whom on a strict need-to-know basis.  SSA expects everyone involved in an investigation, regardless of their role, to respect the confidentiality of the process while the concerns are being reviewed and addressed.

c. Investigations.   A qualified individual designated by SSA’s Executive Director will conduct all investigations. The designated investigator is responsible for gathering information needed to make findings of fact.  Typically, this involves speaking to the identified target, the accused Participant, and any witnesses as well as reviewing any documents, photographs, or other relevant information.  To ensure adequate due process, it is SSA’s policy to inform accused Participants of the allegations against them so that they have an opportunity to provide relevant facts.

d. Notice to SSA Leaders for Decision-Making. SSA’s President and either SSA’s Executive Director or Ethics Committee Chair (“SSA Leaders”) are responsible for making decisions about potential violations of this Meetings Code of Conduct. (To promote objectivity, the investigator may not serve as a decision-maker.  Therefore, if the Executive Director conducts the investigation, the President and Ethics Committee Chair will be the decision-makers.  If someone other than the Executive Director conducts the investigation, the decision makers will be the President and Executive Director.)  The designated investigator provides the SSA Leaders with pertinent details about the allegations and findings of fact so that SSA Leaders can make timely decisions about whether there have been violations and, if so, what consequences are appropriate.  (See part 2 below for information on potential consequences.)

2. Consequences. SSA Leaders have the sole discretion to make interim and final decisions about the steps needed to enforce this Meetings Code of Conduct, considering what will serve SSA’s best interests and commitment to ensuring safe, productive, and inclusive SSA Meetings.

a. Interim Decisions. SSA’s Leaders may decide that immediate action is necessary to ensure the safety of an SSA Meeting before it receives a formal complaint or can complete an investigation.  For example, upon receipt of credible allegations that an individual is engaging in disruptive, harassing, or biased behavior that is reasonably likely to make other Participants feel unsafe, SSA Leaders may require the accused Participant to leave the meeting immediately at the Participant’s own expense and without refund.  In such a case, SSA would promptly notify the accused Participant and others directly involved of its decision, making it clear that:

    • SSA Leaders have not made a judgment that the accused Participant violated this Meetings Code of Conduct, but rather they are prioritizing preventive safety and non-disruption measures.
    • SSA will conduct a fair, thorough investigation as soon as it is feasible to do so and that no final decisions will be made until that time.
    • Confidentiality is paramount, and SSA expects everyone involved to respect and maintain confidentiality of the identities of any individuals involved in this process.

b. Final Decisions. SSA will strive to complete all investigations as expeditiously as possible. Once an investigation is complete, SSA Leaders will review the findings of fact to determine whether there has been a violation of this Meetings Code of Conduct and, if so, what consequences are warranted.  Depending on the situation, such consequences may include:

    • Requiring the accused Participant to leave an SSA Meeting at the Participant’s own cost, without refund.
    • Prohibiting the accused Participant from attending future SSA Events; and
    • Any other actions deemed necessary and appropriate.

Instead of or in addition to any of these consequences, SSA may with the consent of the parties pursue a restorative or other community-building action or remedy.

c. Notice of Investigation Progress and Final Decisions. After making a final decision, SSA’s Executive Director will promptly notify the accused Participant and the identified target of the decision, which shall be final without a right to appeal.  SSA recognizes the importance of keeping the parties informed of ongoing investigations, particularly when they cannot be completed right away. SSA will strive to keep the parties informed to the extent possible without compromising the confidentiality of the process.

Reporting & Recordkeeping

  • Investigation Reports. At the conclusion of each investigation, SSA’s Executive Director will, within a reasonable time, prepare a confidential written investigation report summarizing the designated investigator’s findings of fact, the basis for these findings, and the SSA Leaders’ conclusions as to whether this Meetings Code of Conduct was violated, and a description of any interim or final enforcement actions. All such investigation reports will be maintained in a confidential, secure location for ten (10) years to help address the issue of repeat offenders.  Access to investigation reports shall be restricted on a need-to-know basis.  Generally, such reports may only be shared in two situations: (1) to provide context to decisionmakers in addressing issues involving repeat offenders; (2) to support a request to revoke membership or rescind an award pursuant to SSA’s Membership & Awards Revocation Procedures.
  • Investigation Log. SSA’s Executive Director is responsible for maintaining a confidential, anonymized log related to all formal complaints.  This log will include: the date of each complaint; a summary of the allegations; investigation findings (i.e., violation, no violation, or inconclusive); and a description of any consequences.  To protect the identities of the people involved, this log must not contain any identifying information.  The Executive Director will submit a copy of the log to the Ethics Committee on an annual basis so that the Ethics Committee can include this information in its annual written report to the Board of Directors.

[1]This policy is based in part on a model policy created by EducationCounsel LLC and is subject to a license agreement (https://societiesconsortium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/4-2-19-Members-License.final_.pdf) requiring the following attribution:  © American Association for the Advancement of Science for the benefit of and sponsored by the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment In STEMM (https://societiesconsortium.com/); original created by EducationCounsel LLC.  SSA also acknowledges relying on GSA’s Events Code of Conduct when developing this policy and expresses gratitude for their work.