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The American Anthropological Association on Friday announced a new Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault. It defines both harassment and assault as “professional misconduct” that hurts anthropologists individually, as a group and as a discipline. The policy echoes a recent report on misconduct in the sciences from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in emphasizing that harassment can be sexist as well as sexual and is linked to negative work and health consequences for targets. It also echoes the National Academies report in recommending fixes to the harassment problem that are not primarily based on complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based harassment. The new policy says it exists in tandem with the AAA’s Principles of Professional Responsibility and applies to members as well as nonmembers who participate in any AAA program or activity, anywhere. The association also encourages the application of the zero-tolerance policy in other settings.

While the AAA is not an adjudicating body, the policy says, the AAA Ombudspeople for Sexual Harassment and Assault will receive complaints of harassment in the context of AAA settings and activities, starting in October. They will ask about complainants’ desired outcomes, referring them to the police when appropriate, and serve as a resource by in various ways. If a complainant wishes for the ombudspeople to actively participate in resolving a complaint, the policy says, they will (with consent) discuss the complaint with the alleged harasser. The ombudspeople also may “facilitate discussion between both parties to achieve an informal resolution that is acceptable to the complainant,” and then follow up on the case, according to the policy. The policy recommends reporting misconduct that occurs outside AAA events to individual institutions.