SHAFR Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

SHAFR Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

SHAFR is committed to fostering an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Our organization’s collective professional and intellectual pursuits can only be realized when we treat one another with dignity and respect. To this end, SHAFR prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. The protections and prohibitions in this policy extend to any guests and members participating in SHAFR-sponsored events. All members and participants, including employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and guests, are expected to engage in professional and respectful behavior and to preserve common standards of professionalism.

The following policy pertains to all SHAFR activities, including events associated with SHAFR conferences and any SHAFR-related business occurring throughout the year. It encompasses interactions in person, by telephone, and by electronic communication.
Sexual Harassment. SHAFR has absolutely no tolerance for sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is behavior (speech or actions) in formal or informal settings that demeans, humiliates, or threatens an individual on the basis of their sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can also take nonsexual forms and includes discriminatory remarks or actions based on an individual’s sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal comment or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including situations in which the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed promise of professional reward for complying; or the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed threat of reprisal or denial of opportunity for refusing to comply; or the request or conduct results in what reasonably may be perceived as a hostile or intimidating environment. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships without discriminatory effect. It refers to behavior that reasonably situated persons would regard as not welcome and as personally intimidating, hostile, or offensive. According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, the victim of harassment can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct, not just the individual at whom the conduct is directed.
Sexual Misconduct. SHAFR has absolutely no tolerance for other forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different genders. Sexual misconduct may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behavior or attempted behavior. It can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. It includes but is not limited to: sexual assault (a continuum of conduct from forcible intercourse to nonphysical forms of pressure that compel individuals to engage in sexual activity against their will); sexual exploitation (taking nonconsensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another person); and sexual intimidation (threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them or engaging in indecent exposure).

Consent. For the purposes of this policy, consent is a freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in particular sexual activity or behavior, expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and, by definition, a person is incapable of consent if the person is unable to understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the situation and/or if the person is incapacitated, which includes incapacitation by extreme intoxication, drug use, mental disability, or being unconscious. Critically, the person initiating a particular sexual activity or behavior bears the responsibility of receiving consent. In examining the existence of consent under this policy, SHAFR will seek to determine, in view of the totality of the circumstances, whether a reasonable person would conclude that the recipient of the initiated sexual activity or behavior was (a) capable of consenting and (b) affirmatively communicated consent to the sexual activity or behavior at issue by words or clear, unambiguous actions.
Retaliation against a complainant of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct is also a violation of these policies.
Members and other conference attendees should be aware that their home institution’s policies (such as Title IX) may require them to report allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct involving people affiliated with their institution. SHAFR reserves the right to respond truthfully to authorized inquiries received from a member’s employer concerning allegations, proceedings, and outcomes under this policy.
This policy will be clearly and prominently displayed on the SHAFR website. All participants in the annual meeting and anyone obtaining or renewing a SHAFR membership will be required during the registration process formally to acknowledge the policy and their responsibility to abide by it.


SHAFR will designate a complaints team that will be available to receive complaints from, describe reporting procedures to, provide advice on resources to, and discuss issues with participants in any SHAFR-sanctioned activity who have experienced or witnessed violations of this policy. The team’s contact information will be made available on the SHAFR website and in annual meeting registration materials. Neither the team nor any other SHAFR official can provide legal advice to those who make reports under this policy.

Members, staff, or guests who in good faith believe that they have been aggrieved by or witnessed conduct prohibited by this policy should contact the SHAFR complaints team.  SHAFR will review each report and endeavor to respond proportionally and fairly. Responses may range from informal resolutions agreed to by the parties to investigations conducted by trained external investigators. SHAFR reserves the right to take interim steps during an event, such as a narrowly tailored “no contact” directive between the parties.

Annual Report

The Executive Director will prepare an annual report of complaints or other evidence of policy violations (with no names used). The report will be circulated to the full Council at the January meeting and made available to the membership on request. The report may also identify how many reports were received, the forms of discrimination and misconduct alleged, how long the matter took to be resolved, and the outcome.
Some text in this policy is adapted from documents produced by the American Historical Association, the Shakespeare Association of America, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the University of Iowa.

Approved by SHAFR Council on January 28, 2019