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ASA Announces Revised Policies on Discrimination, Harassment, and Respectful Behavior

Friday, July 12, 2019  
Posted by: Julie Van Camp
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The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce that the ASA Board of Trustees has approved revised policies on Discrimination, Harassment, and Respectful Behavior. The revised policies are effective immediately, July 12, 2019, and supersede previous policies.

The policies were revised based on extensive work by the ASA Committee on Respectful Behaviors and the Board of Trustees. A draft was sent to all ASA members for comment earlier this year and thirteen members responded with suggestions, most of which have been adopted. 

The complete policies are available on the ASA Web site under ASA Policies:

In addition, the complete text of the revised policies is included in this message, below.

Call for nominations to the Committee on Respectful Behavior

We currently have three vacancies on the Committee on Respectful Behavior and now invite nominations (including self-nominations) for those positions. Complete information on the nomination procedure is included at the end of the policies. All nominations must be received by September 15, 2019, and should be sent to The three selected will serve three-year terms from 2020-2022, joining the current members (Ted Gracyk, Andrew Kania, and Carolyn Korsmeyer) who are serving three-year terms from 2019-2021. 



This policy, approved by the American Society for Aesthetics Board of Trustees

on July 12, 2019, is effective immediately and completely supersedes previous policies.

Freedom of expression and vigorous debate are crucial to scholarly exchange. The American Society for Aesthetics strongly values mutual respect and strives to provide an environment for scholarly exchange that is free from discrimination and harassment. The ASA is committed to providing a supportive environment—one that upholds values of inclusion, safety, and mutual respect—at the ASA annual meeting, divisional meetings, ASA-sponsored conferences, and other ASA-sponsored activities.

Accordingly, the ASA deplores all discrimination and harassment and is sensitive to the harm suffered by those who experience it. We expect participants in our meetings to demonstrate self-control and civility, even in the midst of strong disagreement, and not to engage in ad hominem attacks. Furthermore, we expect those participating in the ASA’s meetings and events to treat others with respect and not to engage in behavior that is offensive, discriminatory, intimidating, or harassing. This expectation applies to our speakers, contractors, volunteers, and attendees.

Our standards do not tolerate any discrimination or harassment on the basis of an individual’s sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, physical appearance, class, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, national identity, or employment status. They call for sensitivity to power dynamics, exhibited in part through respect for the ideas, work, personal autonomy, and contributions of individuals in more junior positions in the field and, more generally, respect and tolerance for people with worldviews, opinions, and experiences we might not share.

Participants in ASA meetings and other ASA-sponsored activities should hold themselves and each other to these standards.

Nondiscrimination and Anti‐Harassment Standards

The ASA prohibits harassment, discrimination, and contribution to an environment that a reasonable person would consider threatening, intimidating, hostile, or offensive. The ASA also prohibits advocating for or encouraging such conduct, which includes, but is not limited to:

Generally prohibited conduct:

§  Remarks that reinforce damaging social structures of domination (e.g., related to an individual’s sex [including pregnancy], sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, physical appearance, class, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, national identity, employment status, or other legally protected characteristics).

§  Photography or recording without the subject’s consent.

§  Sustained disruption of talks or other events.

§  Retaliation against any person for consulting or cooperating with members of the Respectful Behavior Committee, or for filing a complaint.

§  Demeanor and behavior that is recognized or ought to be recognized as offensive to non-dominant or vulnerable groups.

§  Verbal abuse, jokes, and epithets that target race, ethnicity, religion, or national identity.

§  Communication includes spoken and written words in or on social media supported by ASA, clothing, etc.

Sexual harassment:

§  Conduct of a sexual nature that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome, which may include instances of non-consensual sexual contact, stalking, repeated flirtations, lewd or lascivious behavior, advances, propositions, and pressure to engage in sexual activity.

§  Inappropriate use of sexual images in public spaces, including the display of offensive or sexually suggestive objects or pictures, apart from purposes of scholarly discussion. If potentially offensive content is included in examples presented at an ASA program, audience members should be alerted first.

§  Communication includes spoken and  written words in or on social media supported by ASA, clothing, etc.

§  Note: Neither occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature nor consensual personal or social relationships constitute sexual harassment.

Membership information and compliance

This policy will be available in full on the ASA web site and will be published annually in the ASA Newsletter.

All transactions on the ASA web site (e.g., membership, meeting registration) will require confirmation that the member has read and agrees to comply with this policy. Notice of this requirement will include a link to the complete policy.


If any ASA member is the target of or witness to harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate behavior, that member is encouraged to report the incident to the ASA Ombudsperson or a member of the Respectful Behavior Committee.

There are two ways to involve the Ombudsperson or the Respectful Behavior Committee: consultation or filing a complaint. We encourage consultation as a first step.

1)                  Consultation:

Any member of the Society may inform the Ombudsperson, a Respectful Behavior Committee member or an ASA Trustee or Officer about a possible violation of the policy. If the incident has been reported to someone other than the Ombudsperson, that person will inform the Ombudsperson.

If the Ombudsperson has a conflict of interest, or cannot for some other reason act in the matter, they will select a member of the Respectful Behavior committee to be the facilitator.

The Ombudsperson or facilitator will conduct an initial interview as soon as possible with the person or persons reported as the target of disrespectful behavior or harassment, and determine what action that person or persons want taken, if any.

If endorsed as appropriate by both the Ombudsperson and the person or persons targeted in violation of this policy, the Ombudsperson or facilitator will attempt to bring about an informal resolution. Engaging in an informal resolution process does not remove the right to file a complaint, in the event that the informal process fails.

If an informal resolution is obtained, the Ombudsperson will submit a confidential report of the incident, summary of findings, and informal resolution to the ASA Officers.

The ASA does not maintain an anonymous hotline for consultation or complaints. If anyone experiences or witnesses an example of inappropriate conduct addressed in this policy, but is not comfortable consulting with any of the persons listed in paragraph 1) of this section, that person is encouraged to talk with a trusted friend immediately to establish an evidentiary record that might be available for future consultations or future complaints.

2)                  Complaint:

While any member of the ASA may report an alleged incident to the Ombudsperson or the Respectful Behavior Committee, only someone who is the target of disrespectful behavior or harassment may file a complaint. A complaint must be made in writing, and must be filed with the Ombudsperson or with any Officer or Trustee of the ASA, no more than one year after the incident. The person receiving the written complaint shall transmit it at the earliest opportunity to the Ombudsperson for investigation and shall maintain the confidentiality of the report.

The Ombudsperson will investigate the complaint.  If the Ombudsperson has a conflict of interest, or cannot for some other reason act in the matter, they will select a member of the Respectful Behavior committee to be the investigator. The ASA Board reserves the right to appoint an external investigator in place of the Ombudsperson.

The investigator will interview the complainant, respondent and any witnesses. The investigator may or may not recommend a formal sanction against the respondent. The ASA President and Board must approve any sanction. (The only exception is for interim remedial action, in which case the President may act alone. See “Resolution” below for an example.)

If the respondent is a Board member or Officer of the ASA, then they will recuse themselves from any discussions with the Board about the complaint.

The investigator will file a written report of the complaint and the investigation. The complainant and respondent will receive a summary of the report with all identifying details, including names of witnesses, redacted.

3)                  Resolution

Whether or not a formal complaint is filed, if there is good reason to think that a serious violation of this policy has occurred, the ASA President, in consultation with the Ombudsperson, may take interim remedial action, such as immediately revoking the conference registration of the respondent.

If there is good reason to think that the ASA President has violated the policy, then the Vice-President will act in their stead with regards to the complaint.

The resolution of a complaint may include, but is not restricted to, one or more of the following:

§  The respondent makes a verbal apology to the complainant.

§  The respondent submits, via the Ombudsperson, a written apology to the complainant.

§  The respondent voluntarily leaves conference for the duration of that conference.

§  The ASA President (or their delegate, if the President is not attending the conference) revokes conference registration of the respondent while conference is in progress.

§  The respondent agrees not to attend ASA meetings or sponsored conferences for one year or a longer period (with compliance monitored by the ASA Secretary).

§  The ASA revokes membership of the respondent, either for a given period or in perpetuity.

§  Any other such restitution, as determined by complainant, respondent, and the Ombudsperson, following consultation with the Respectful Behavior committee.

ASA Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson is the primary resource and point of contact for ASA members regarding concerns about discrimination, including sexual harassment, which is recognized as a form of discrimination. The Ombudsperson is responsible for educating the ASA membership about this policy.

The Ombudsperson shall receive complaints of discrimination and harassment and, where possible, serve as a resource to members regarding such complaints. The Ombudsperson shall serve as a resource by, among other things, (i) educating the complainant about this policy; (ii) facilitating informal resolution of concerns where appropriate; (iii) investigating complaints of harassment and discrimination; and (iv) recommending sanctions where appropriate. The Ombudsperson should, if necessary, be able to consult with a complainant rapidly, within a 24-hour period.

The Ombudsperson does not provide legal advice.

Where appropriate, the Ombudsperson shall consult with the Feminist Caucus Committee or the Diversity Committee for advice regarding specific complaints.

Each written complaint will be investigated and a confidential report regarding that complaint will be submitted to the Board. (Ordinarily, the Ombudsperson will do the investigation. If they have a conflict of interest, then a member of the Respectful Behaviour Committee will investigate. The ASA reserves the right to appoint an external investigator instead of the Ombudsperson.)

The Ombudsperson prepares two annual reports. The first report, containing very general information about the number of members who have consulted with the Ombudsperson and the types of complaints and issues raised, is provided to the Board of Trustees and is available to ASA members as an addendum to the minutes of the Board meeting at which it was submitted.

The second report describes each consultation and what resolution, if any, was achieved, with all identifying information removed. This report is held as a confidential record in the ASA’s national office and may be consulted only by officers of the ASA in the course of their duties.

The Ombudsperson will be nominated by the ASA President, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, for a term of three years. The Feminist Caucus Committee and the Diversity Committee will provide a list of potential candidates, and a general invitation to self-nomination to all ASA members will be the basis for the list of candidates, to which the officers and Board of Trustees may add.

The Ombudsperson is a volunteer position. For availability at any of the four ASA meetings each year (the three divisional meetings and the Annual Meeting), reasonable travel costs, consistent with other ASA reimbursements, will be provided. If professional services are necessary to respond to a formal complaint, consulting rates will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Respectful Behavior Committee

The Committee shall consist of six persons, nominated (including self-nominated), with  election by the ASA Board of Trustees. Nominations shall be solicited by bulk e-mail sent to all current ASA members, with additional announcements, as appropriate, on the ASA web site announcements, Facebook, Twitter, and the ASA Newsletter.

The nomination deadline for initial establishment of the committee shall be November 15, 2018, with submissions to be sent to The nomination deadline commencing in 2019 shall be September 15 with submissions to be sent to

Nomination shall include a short CV and cover letter addressing interest in and qualifications for membership on the Committee, including how they would contribute to the committee and its diversity.

Terms will extend from January 1 – December 31 for three years. Members may serve one additional term after initial appointment; after one year off the committee, previous members may again be considered for membership.

When applications are received on September 15, the Secretary-Treasurer will share them with the leadership (chairs and assistant chairs) of the Feminist Caucus Committee and Diversity Committee. Each Committee will be asked to identify preferred candidates, after appropriate consultation with the membership of the full committee of current ASA members. At least three preferred candidates should be recommended, listed either alphabetically or rank-ordered, by each committee. The Officers and Trustees will be required to give very serious consideration to these recommendations from each committee in making their final selections. The lists of preferred candidates by the committees must be sent to the Officers no later than December 1, so the Trustee balloting can be completed in December.

In making the selections, the Officers and Trustees should be mindful of the overall makeup of the Committee and aim for diversity in all its forms, including race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, seniority and security within the profession, and experience with comparable institutional committees.

Members must be members of the ASA throughout their term of service on the committee.

Working with the Ombudsperson, the Committee shall review for possible revision the existing policy each biennium following its adoption or subsequent revision,taking into account recommendations received from ASA members and the Board of Trustees, and shall be responsible for making recommendations for future revisions, as appropriate, with final revisions approved by the Board of Trustees.

Members should be available to serve as Acting Ombudsperson when the Ombudsperson finds it necessary to recuse due to conflicts of interest or is unable for other reasons to attend an ASA meeting.  Members should be available to assist in representing the Committee at ASA Annual Meetings and Divisional meetings, if the Ombudsperson is unable to attend, with appropriate travel support from the ASA.

Members shall assist in development and implementation of appropriate educational and training activities for members on Discrimination, Harassment, and Respectful Behavior.

The Ombudsperson shall be considered a voting member of the committee. A quorum for purposes of voting shall be 50% of the membership plus one.  Members shall be subject to all ASA policies, including but not limited to the current policies on Conflict of Interest and on Privacy and Data.  The Ombudsperson shall serve as chair of the committee.

As the membership of the Committee regularly rotates, the names shall be available on the ASA web site with this posting of the policy, once approved.


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