SAA Statement on Sexual Harassment and Violence (2015)

Nov 01, 2015

Archaeologists’ learning and work environments are the context not only for the many duties of professionals in our field but also for cultivating confident and effective future generations of archaeologists. Today, archaeologists have many roles: instructional staff and students in classroom, lab, and field settings; curatorial staff in non-profit and government museums; cultural heritage managers and educators in governmental, tribal, and public utility settings; supervisors and employees in private cultural resource/heritage management firms; and participants in professional meetings and conferences. All of these contexts bring practitioners into contact with members of an increasingly diverse population of students, employees, and colleagues.

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) places high value on assuring that educational and work experiences in archaeology are optimal for all to develop and practice relevant skills and knowledge. Intimidation based upon sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, national origin, religion, or marital status, actual or perceived, has been legally recognized as having a chilling effect on learning and workplace experiences, not only for the targets of such behavior but also for others witnessing it.

The U.S. federal government has implemented laws for educational and workplace settings to ensure that all students and employees, regardless of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, national origin, religion, or marital status, have access to an equal educational and work experience, free from discrimination, harassment, or assault. Other national, tribal, state, provincial, and local governments have also passed legislation prohibiting such behavior. Policies and practices of institutions in which archaeologists work often describe in detail the nature of such intimidating or violent behavior and how persons who have been targeted, or others who witness such behavior, can seek redress.

It is imperative that all SAA members educate themselves on their country’s, nation’s, state’s, province’s, and institution’s laws, regulations, policies, and procedures pertaining to sexual, gender, and other forms of harassment and violence, and abide by these when teaching, learning, working, and engaging in collegial interactions. Those who serve as instructional staff or principal investigators have special legal and ethical responsibilities and should be aware of these in all situations.

SAA’ s Board of Directors is especially concerned that archaeological field schools and research experiences follow the guidelines and procedures of their sponsoring agency and/or institution, which the Board believes hold regardless of the location of the instructional site. Members of field schools—both instructional staff and students—must be informed of their obligations, rights, and avenues of redress.1 The Board stresses that in all other contexts, practitioners must conduct themselves in accordance with relevant laws and regulations and have an ethical responsibility to intervene in cases where they observe peers violating relevant laws.2

To facilitate this, the SAA Board of Directors has posted a document, entitled SAA Background and Resource Guide for Addressing Harassment and Violence, containing relevant U.S. federal government legislation, definitions, and opinions on its relevance to archaeology, reviewed by legal counsel.

1 Muckle, Bob (2014). “On Sexual Harassment and Assault in Archaeology,” The SAA
Archaeological Record 14, no. 5:32-33.
2 Wood, Bernard (2015). "Zero tolerance. Period." Science 350, no. 6260:487-487.