Anti-Harassment Policy

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The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) is a global collective of scholars dedicated to the study of Africa and the African diaspora. We affirm our commitment to care, respect, and equity. ASWAD is strengthened by the equal contributions of all people, and to that end we are committed to maintaining an inclusive environment in which members and participants are free of harassment based on race, gender, gender expression, sexuality, socioeconomic status, language, citizenship, faith, ability, marital status, pregnancy, and veteran status. It is our expectation that all members, participants, vendors, volunteers, and guests in any ASWAD communications and gatherings, whether in person or virtual, will behave in accordance with these principles.

To ensure a safe environment for all members of our community, ASWAD does not tolerate sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation. This includes, but is not limited to, at ASWAD conferences, meetings, and communications related to ASWAD activities.
Harassment is words, conduct, or action (usually repeated or persistent) that, being directed at a specific person, annoys, alarms, or causes substantial emotional distress in that person and serves no legitimate purpose. Such words, conduct, or action rises to the level of harassment when it is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough that it interferes with a person’s ability to participate in an ASWAD activity.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment.
Sexual violence, as the Office of Civil Rights uses the term, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the victim's age or use of drugs or alcohol or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the victim from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.
Gender-based harassment is unwelcome conduct based on an individual's actual or perceived sex. It includes slurs, taunts, stereotypes, or name-calling as well as gender-motivated physical threats, attacks, or other objectively offensive conduct.

Reporting Procedures
The primary goal of this anti-harassment policy is to ensure a safe environment for all participants. This collective goal requires collective effort, and ASWAD encourages any person who witnesses a harmful interaction to report it (see below). Note that ASWAD, its leadership, and board cannot provide legal advice to those who report. ASWAD will make reasonable efforts to ensure the confidentiality of the complaint and any investigation related to the complaint.

Any individual may report unwelcome behavior to an ASWAD officer. This includes the president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. One may also report bias, harassment, or discrimination to a member of the board of directors. An individual may also report harassing conduct directly to the Title IX officer at the reporter or alleged violator’s home institution or conference hosting institution. If a complaint concerns an ASWAD officer, a complainant may contact a different officer or a member of the Board of Directors.

Upon receipt of the report, ASWAD leaders initiate an investigation. To ensure fairness, ASWAD expects anyone who has a real or perceived conflict of interest to recuse themselves from the proceedings; those decisions are left to the discretion, and good faith, of each team member. ASWAD will make reasonable efforts to interview the reporter and/or alleged target of harassment. ASWAD will also make reasonable efforts to interview relevant witnesses and the alleged violator. Where appropriate, the party charged with investigating will provide a formal report and recommendation for further action to the ASWAD leadership. Although ASWAD will make every reasonable effort to abide by a complainant’s wishes regarding whether to investigate, ASWAD has a responsibility to investigate serious allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, and retains the discretion to do so.

The ASWAD officers will decide on the appropriate consequences, and may consult with appropriate parties, including any investigator, and the board. An ASWAD officer will inform the target and alleged violator of the decision.
Possible consequences include, but are not limited to:
  • Warn the violator and outline future consequences in the case of repeated misconduct
  • Order the violator to leave a meeting or event without the possibility of return
  • Prohibit violator’s attendance in all ASWAD events, either for a defined period or indefinitely
  • Remove violator from all volunteer roles, either for a prescribed period or indefinitely
  • In the case of vendors, end all contracts as soon as legally allowed
  • Remove violator’s ASWAD membership
Violators who wish to appeal the ASWAD leadership’s decision may contact an ASWAD officer in writing with relevant additional information. If ASWAD leaders find a reconsideration necessary, they will consult the board. The officers’ decision can be overturned by a majority of the Board of Directors.