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Open Forum on ROPA

Bill Lipe

Work is continuing on a proposal to transform the Society of Professional Archeologists (SOPA) into a Register of Professional Archaeologists (ROPA), under the sponsorship of the SAA, the Society for Historical Archaeology, and the Archaeological Institute of America [see the related article in the SAA Bulletin, 1995 13(3)]. The plan will be reviewed and members can discuss it at an open forum at the Annual Meeting (3-5 p.m. Thursday, April 11). If the plan is approved by the boards of the respective societies, SAA members will vote on it later in 1996.

This initiative is one response to the growing concern within archaeology about ethics, professional standards, and public accountability. Under the plan being considered, the sponsoring societies would encourage their professional members to voluntarily register adherence to an explicit code of ethics and standards of research performance, and to commit to take part in grievance procedures if their work or behavior received a credible challenge. The ROPA ethical code, standards, and grievance procedures would be adopted from those currently maintained by SOPA.

Demonstrating accountability to published standards of ethical and professional behavior is essential if archaeologists are to be recognized as true professionals by the public that supports them. I believe that ROPA provides a way to achieve this goal. By sponsoring ROPA, the major archaeological societies can encourage and promote greater accountability and professionalism in archaeology.

I know many SAA members are unfamiliar with the plans for ROPA, or have questions about its feasibility and how it would actually work. Many may question the basic premise I've stated in the preceding paragraph. If you wish to know more about the proposal, I urge you to attend the open forum on April 11 to ask questions or make your concerns known.

Bill Lipe is president of SAA.


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