A Letter to SAA Members and a Video Message from Joe Watkins

May 02, 2019

Dear SAA Members,

As the last two weeks have made abundantly clear, the archaeology profession is at a tipping point regarding the issue of systemic sexual harassment. I stand with the SAA Board of Directors and the SAA staff in acknowledging the enormity of this problem.  Women in our field are being disrespected, mistreated and assaulted and we have not done enough to bring this issue to light. We want to let you know that we hear you and we are ready to make the necessary changes.

In the past, the Society for American Archaeology has created task forces to address this issue. Unfortunately, these have not been as effective as we had hoped. We understand how frustrating this has been for many of our members. As the President of the Board, I pledge to address these issues with the task force on sexual harassment and anti-harassment policies and procedures, but that is just the beginning. Here’s our Six Point Plan:

  • First, we will make this topic part of a presidential opening session in 2020.
  • Second, SAA will develop a women's-focused event in DC to discuss these issues.
  • Third, we will create an opportunity for representatives, with varying backgrounds and experiences within our membership, to have an open dialogue with the board.
  • Fourth, we are committed to offering SAA Board, staff and member training on sexual harassment.
  • Fifth, we will make it easier to communicate sensitive issues like this with SAA as well as have a counselor on site at the 2020 meeting.
  • And, last, but not least, SAA will share regular updates on the task force with the entire membership to ensure this is an effective and lasting change.

When things get tough, we need members like you to help guide us forward. We've read your emails, open letters, and social media posts and are grateful for your input. We want to encourage members to join us in our efforts to effect much-needed change. That said, the types of change being discussed require that we conduct a civil conversation both online and off. Placing blame or rehashing past mistakes is nowhere near as productive as coming together to figure out what we need to do now. 

We regret that we were not able to provide updates sooner with members. Please note that this is a volunteer-run organization with a small staff and we are doing our best to work quickly.

Thank you for your emails letters and calls. I am dedicated and honored to serve as your President and will see to it that changes are made for the betterment of our profession now, and in the future.   


  Joe Watkins digital Signature

Joe Watkins