AAPOR
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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR Conduct Policy

I. Preamble
 
As a professional association, AAPOR fully supports and values our members having collegial interactions that yield interpersonal connections, as well as intellectual outcomes: discussions, differing viewpoints, and scientific debates. Our events and activities are held in the spirit of free inquiry and free expression, which is important and necessary for advancing the science and practice of public opinion research. We pride ourselves on our professionalism and our respect for others.

AAPOR’s membership is global. Our conferences, meetings, journals, listserv and activities bring together people from around the world, and from many different cultures. As such, we need to be sensitive to cultural contexts that vary not only among regions of the USA, but also among regions of the world. We must also be sensitive to legacies that have produced discriminatory and prejudicial beliefs and practices, which threaten AAPOR’s coveted inclusive environment.

AAPOR is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for everyone attending or associated with our events, listserv exchanges, and activities including AAPOR members, guests, staff, vendors, exhibitors, contractors, as well as venue staff. We are committed to providing an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination, whether sexual or otherwise, based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, health, socioeconomic status, marital status, domestic status, political affiliation, or parental status. Harassment and discrimination undermine the principle of equality and respect and are serious forms of professional misconduct.  AAPOR members who violate this policy will be subject to discipline.

The following Policy outlines expectations, reporting, and procedures for everyone, members and non-members, who attends or participates in AAPOR events, activities, or operations.
These include but are not limited to:
  • In-person gatherings such as conferences, meetings, short courses or local chapter activities.
  • Online, “virtual” events such as webinars or virtual conferences.
  • Emails, telephone calls and any other online or offline communication related to AAPOR business.
  • Online forums such as AAPORnet.
 
II. Expected Conduct


AAPOR members, guests, staff, vendors, exhibitors, contractors, as well as venue staff are expected to treat each other in a professional manner and behave professionally while conducting or engaging in AAPOR business or participating in AAPOR activities.
 
All participants at AAPOR and AAPOR Regional Chapter meetings (including AAPOR members, guests, vendors, venue staff, etc.) are expected to abide by this Policy in all meeting venues including ancillary events as well as official and unofficial social gatherings. Our baseline expectation is for all participants to:
  • Follow the norms of professional respect that are necessary to promote the conditions for free academic interchange.
  • Be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid any harm, be it physical or psychological, to any conference participant that you personally witness.
  • Alert law enforcement or conference security personnel or appropriate authorities if you see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger.
 
III. Unacceptable Conduct

What is prohibited? Harassment toward others while conducting or engaging in AAPOR business or participating in AAPOR activities will not be tolerated.
 
Definitions of Harassment: Harassment consists of a single or multiple persistent or pervasive acts which are demeaning, abusive, offensive, or create a hostile professional environment. Harassment may include sexual solicitation, physical advance, or verbal or non-verbal conduct that is sexual in nature; it may also include threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual or group; epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping based on group identity. Unprofessional behavior is not limited to face-to-face interactions. As such, it also includes written, electronic, and telephone communication. 
 
Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Behavior and language that are welcome or acceptable to one person or culture may be unwelcome and offensive to another. Personal or cultural acceptance is not a justification for any unwelcome form of behavior.   The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, constitute sexual harassment:
  • Sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions;
  • Verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature, including sexually degrading words used to describe an individual;
  • Making unwelcome comments about someone’s physical appearance;
  • A display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures;
  • Sexually explicit jokes;
  • Unwanted touching;
  • Persistent and unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy, especially when accompanied by real or implied threat of professional or other type of harm.
 
Other Harassment. Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also prohibited. This conduct includes, but is not limited to prejudicial actions or comments related to actual or perceived gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, age, or religion that coerce others, foment broad hostility, or otherwise undermine professional equity or the principles of free academic exchange.
 
Verbally or physically abusive behavior toward others while conducting or engaging in AAPOR business or participating in AAPOR activities will not be tolerated. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to:
  • Bullying;
  • Knowingly communicating false information about someone else;
  • Intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory or demeaning speech or actions;
  • Directing abusive profanity toward others;
  • Behavior that has the effect of humiliating others;
  • Mobbing (i.e., group bullying an individual);
  • Property damage;
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following;
  • Harassing photography or recording;
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
  • Physical assault;
  • Real or implied threat of physical harm;
  • Other unprofessional or inappropriate behavior.
 
IV. Procedures for Addressing Misconduct
 
A. Notice
If you believe that you are or have been subjected to harassment, speak up if you feel safe doing so. Communicate, in an effective form, to the person who you believe is acting inappropriately that their behavior is unwelcome. Explicitly identifying inappropriate behavior communicates 1) that one perceives the act as crossing a professional line, and 2) one does not wish it to continue. When the communication is in the presence of others, it also increases the likelihood of bystander intervention. Letting others know you believe you are receiving unwanted or unwarranted attention also creates the opportunity for an additional point of view to help clarify any misperceptions, as well as provide an additional witness when there is inappropriate conduct.   

If you witness potential harm, such as physical contact or hostile verbal behavior, be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid elevated harm among the actors. Alert law enforcement or conference security personnel  if you see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger or feel unsafe intervening yourself.
 
If you are or have been subjected to harassment and are not comfortable addressing it  directly with the individual, if the behavior does not stop, or if you remain concerned about the incident, concerns should be reported in the manner stated below.
 
If you experience harassment that results in physical harm, makes you feel physically unsafe, or otherwise requires an immediate response, you should alert law enforcement or conference security.
 
B. Formal Reporting
  1. Submit a report via the online form which goes directly to an Ad Hoc Conduct Committee, consisting of AAPOR’s Executive Director[1], President, MCR Chair, Senior Councilor-at-Large, Standards Chair, and an Inclusion and Equity Committee representative. The form has the option to send to as many of the people on the committee as desired, in case one of the members of the committee is being accused or has another connection to the situation which could cause a conflict of interest. Should any member of the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee be the subject of a complaint, the person(s) will be replaced by another person in similar office (e.g., Past President, Associate MCR Chair, etc.). This Ad Hoc Conduct Committee will report through the Standards Committee.
 
  1. Instructions provided on what to report – e.g., (i) a statement describing the alleged action or violation, (ii) the date or dates when the alleged violation occurred, (iii) the AAPOR event/meeting/connection, (iv) the name(s) of the individual(s) alleged to be in violation, (v) any other witnesses to the event(s), and (vi) the name of the complainant along with his or her contact information, including telephone number, postal address, and e-mail address.
  2. Within two (2) business days (or 24 hours during in-person events, like conference), the Executive Director responds to complainant on behalf of the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee with a message saying that the incident/issue will be investigated within 30 days. The complainant will be told to reach out directly to the Executive Director and/or President if 1) the person wants to discuss the matter more quickly or 2) if they haven’t heard back within 2 business days or 24 hours during in-person events.
 
C. Review Process
  1. Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee reviews written report of violation. Committee reaches out to the person whose conduct is in question in the complaint and that person can provide their own written account of the incident(s).  The Committee may reach out to the complainant and/or any other named witnesses as needed. The Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee may secure the service of an independent professional Ombudsperson as deemed appropriate and necessary in any given complaint.
  2. The Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will decide about possible action within 30 days of the complainant report.
D. Decision-Making by AAPOR
Authority: AAPOR reserves the right to have sole discretion over decision-making regarding standards of conduct in its organizational activities and at its sponsored events--online or in-person, local or national-- and to determine any associated penalties. By agreeing to terms of registration at AAPOR sponsored events—including AAPOR discussion boards and list-serves—members and participants, as well as their guests, are subject to AAPOR’s conduct policy. AAPOR will have no liability in connection with the stated penalties below; and there will be no refund or compensation of any kind associated therewith.
 
After a review by the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee and based on the merits of the complaint and any records of prior complaints, the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee will seek a consensus on the appropriately judged outcome.  Majority opinion will rule if consensus is not achieved.  The outcomes include:
 
•  Declination to take action
•  Temporary or permanent removal from AAPOR list-serve
•  Temporary or permanent removal from AAPOR leadership, committee, or volunteer role
•  Revocation of registration for upcoming AAPOR sponsored event(s) refunding of registration fees will be determined by the event’s cancellation policy  
•  Immediate expulsion from an AAPOR sponsored event(s) with no refund for any fees paid
•  Temporary or permanent ban from participation in AAPOR sponsored event(s)
•  Temporary or permanent revocation of AAPOR membership (or local chapter membership) with no refunds for any fees paid
 
Referral to Law Enforcement: AAPOR Executive Director, officers and members of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will review federal offense reporting standards (e.g., Clery Act) tied to violent threats, assault, and other related acts. In cases where the behavior could be unlawful, AAPOR will immediately refer the incident to local law enforcement authorities.
 
E. Referral to Executive Council
The Standards Chair will report on the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee decisions, but not the facts thereof— via the Standards Chair at AAPOR’s next occurring Executive Council Meeting. The decisions will be announced (decision information only) not subject to vote but entered into the minutes by acclamation. The “facts” of the complaints will be archived with AAPOR’s Executive Office and in its historical archives with other confidential Standards files, and not made a part of the public minutes. All AAPOR Chapter presidents will receive a memorandum communicating the decision and the affected parties for their information and consideration. It will be the responsibility of AAPOR event and organizational leaders to review participant lists to identify individuals who are under temporary or permanent restrictions.
 
The complaint form and all related materials prepared for Executive Council and the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee will be kept confidential. All Executive Council and Ad Hoc Conduct Committee discussions related to the specifics of the complaint will be treated as privileged communication with no information recorded that would identify the incident or any individuals involved in the incident.
 
F. Reinstatement and Appeals
A person subject to a temporary ban will be automatically reinstated when the ban expires.

All decisions rendered by the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee are subject to appeal by either the complainant or the person who received a temporary or permanent ban.  The appeal must be submitted in writing to the AAPOR Executive Council stating the justification for the appeal. The appeal must also be submitted within six (6) months of the time the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee rendered their decision.  The appeal will be reviewed by an Appeals Committee consisting of the AAPOR Vice President, AAPOR Past President, AAPOR Executive Director (non-voting member), and three AAPOR Executive Council members who were not on the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee and had not previously  reviewed details of the complaint.  If a majority of the Appeals Committee agree that there is justification for an appeal then they may review written reports of the violation. This Appeals Committee may reach out to the complainant and/or any other named witnesses as needed to gather additional information. The Appeals Committee may secure the service of an independent professional Ombudsperson as deemed appropriate and necessary in any given complaint. A different Ombudsperson will be used if the Ad Hoc Conduct Committee used an Ombudsperson in coming up with their original decision.
The Appeals Committee will render a decision on the appeal within 45 days.
 
 
Additional Resources
https://www.rainn.org/after-sexual-assault
http://victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/national-hotlines-and-helpful-links
 
 

[1] Non-voting member.