MPSA Anti-Harassment Policy / Professional Conduct Policy for Events and Meetings

The Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) is committed to upholding the highest standards for respectful, professional norms and behavior and to fostering an inclusive climate.   Consequently, harassment and unprofessional behavior at MPSA events is considered to be a serious form of misconduct.

The following Anti-Harassment and Professional Conduct Policy, modeled closely on the American Political Science Association’s Anti-Harassment Policy, outlines expectations for all who attend and participate in MPSA events and meetings.  

1. Purpose  

MPSA is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive, respectful and welcoming environment for all members and participants, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, religion or belief.  “Participant” in this policy refers to anyone present at MPSA meetings or other sponsored events, including staff, contractors, vendors, exhibitors, venue staff, MPSA members and all other participants.

2.  Expected Behavior

All participants at MPSA meetings or events are expected to abide by this Anti-Harassment and Professional Conduct Policy in all meeting venues, including ancillary events and official and unofficial social gatherings.  Compliance with this policy includes the following:

  • Abiding by the norms of professional respect that are necessary to promote the conditions for free academic interchange 
  • Agreement to alert relevant MPSA staff or security personnel if a situation arises where someone might be in imminent danger

3.  Unacceptable Behavior

Behaviors that violate the Anti-Harassment and Professional Conduct Policy include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Threats or actions that cause or threaten personal harm
  • Threats or actions that cause or threaten professional harm, punishment or retaliation
  • Intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory or demeaning speech or actions
  • Prejudicial actions or comments that coerce others, foment broad hostility or otherwise undermine professional equity or the principles of free academic exchange
  • Unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following
  • Harassing photography or recording
  • Sustained, unprofessional disruption of talks or other events
  • Other intentionally disruptive behavior

 4. Reporting Procedure for the Anti-Harassment Policy / Professional Conduct Policy  

If harassment is observed or reported to any MPSA staff member, Council member, conference attendee, or venue employee, and there is a question of immediate physical danger, steps should be taken to ensure immediate safety of all attendees and staff, regardless of any complaint procedure that may follow.

Participants who believe they have experienced or witnessed harassment or have been the target of unprofessional conduct, in violation of MPSA Anti-Harassment and Professional Conduct Policy, have two options. The first is to consult with the Ombuds of the MPSA, who is available for confidential consultation about a wide range of concerns, including but not limited to sexual harassment. The second is to begin the complaint procedure by contacting the Executive Director William Morgan [morgan@mpsanet.org, 812-558-0588] or Communications Director Melissa Heeke [heeke@mpsanet.org, 812-558-0588]. To the extent a complainant is comfortable, the complainant should first consult with the Ombuds for clarification about their options.  

 A. Contacting the Ombuds
The Ombuds plays no role in MPSA’s formal complaint procedure but can offer confidential guidance about what constitutes discrimination or harassment. The Ombuds can explain the options for reporting harassment to the MPSA and can provide information regarding whether other avenues for pursuing such a complaint are available based on the nature of the complaint,  such as state or local government, human rights or law enforcement agencies, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. If appropriate and if the complainant requests it, the Ombuds may recommend conciliation. The Ombuds cannot provide legal advice but can offer support and guidance even if no further action is taken.

This consultation is confidential and the details of any a conversation between an MPSA event participant and the MPSA Ombuds will be kept confidential to the extent allowable by law, and will not be reported to any administrator, officer, or committee of the MPSA. However, if in the Ombuds’ sole discretion, the Ombuds determines that the information that the complainant provides involves a serious threat of harm to any individual the Ombuds will make any necessary reporting to protect the individuals from harm. At all times, the role of the Ombuds is entirely independent of any complaint a participant may decide to pursue through the following MPSA complaint procedure. The Ombuds will not keep any written records of complaints or consultations. Ombuds can be reached by email or phone or by asking for assistance from conference personnel. In the event that the Ombuds is involved in or has a relationship with any party to the dispute, the Ombuds will be recused after contacting another Ombuds to address the issue.

 B. Making a Complaint to the MPSA

Any participant in an MPSA event may file a complaint regarding an incident that occurred within two years prior to the time of the complaint filing. To make a complaint, an individual should contact the Executive Director, William Morgan [morgan@mpsanet.org, 812-558-0588] or Communications Director, Melissa Heeke [heeke@mpsanet.org, 812-558-0588], and they will refer the case to the Complaint Committee.

In the event that any member of the Complaint Committee has a prior relationship with any party involved in the complaint or is named in the complaint, that person will be recused from participation. In most cases, complaints should be in writing but a complainant may make a complaint orally.

The Complaint Committee will conduct an appropriate investigation, which includes interviewing both parties and any witnesses to the incident identified by either part, as well as reviewing relevant documentation. The Complaint Committee may consult legal counsel before deciding the case. The Complaint Committee will write a brief preliminary report stating its finding and determination, and the factual basis for the decision. The Complaint Committee will provide the respondent and complainant with thirty days to respond to the preliminary report in writing prior to a final report and any applicable sanctions being imposed. Findings of merit by the Complaint Committee must be unanimous. If after receiving a respondent’s and complainant’s responses to the preliminary report, the decision of the of the Complaint Committee has changed a second preliminary report will be issued giving respondent and complainant a second opportunity to provide a response.

After reviewing the respondent’s and complainant’s responses, the Complaint Committee will issue a final report and determine whether any sanctions are warranted. When a respondent is found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct under this policy, the possible sanctions for that person include:

  • Issuing a warning to cease the discriminatory or harassing behavior and retaining a record of that warning in case of future violations;
  • Termination of current MPSA conference participation and any MPSA responsibilities or appointments held;
  • Barring the person from assuming any future governance positions within MPSA;
  • Barring the person from participating in future MPSA conferences or events; and/or
  • Revoking MPSA membership

The Chair of the Complaint Committee will notify both parties of the Complaint Committee’s decision. Should either party wish to appeal the decision and/or any sanctions, the ad-hoc appeals committee will be comprised of the Executive Committee of the MPSA and the Chair of the Complaint Committee. Any party who is involved in the dispute or closely related to a party involved in the dispute would be recused. All appeals to the ad-hoc appeals committee must be made in writing within 30 days of the final report. Decisions of the ad-hoc appeals committee are final.

 As a general principle, the MPSA will make every effort to protect complainants from retaliation.

Adopted April 6, 2017
Revised August 30, 2018