SAA Conference Ombuds

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I contact the Conference ombuds during or after the conference?

The ombuds will be on-site and accessible during the Annual Meeting starting at 2:00 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, April 22 and ending at 12:00 noon Central time on Sunday, April 26, 2020. The ombuds will be available by e-mail (saaombuds@gmail.com), phone (512-766-6455), and for face-to-face meetings (Austin Convention Center, 3rd floor, Show Office13). To introduce themselves to more meeting attendees, each ombuds will spend time at a table near the registration (Austin Convention Center, solar atrium) when not responding to individuals or joining sessions.


What is an ombuds? 

The name “ombudsman” (om budz man) comes from Swedish and literally means “representative.” At the most fundamental level, an ombuds is one who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns. The SAA has chosen two ombuds to serve as informal, independent, neutral, and confidential resources for meeting attendees. The ombuds will listen to understand issues from the perspective of individuals and provide support, coaching, strategies, options, and useful resources. All issues, including sexual harassment, can be discussed confidentially and independently of the Society. Appropriate administrative channels will be offered to individuals who desire to register formal complaints.


What is the background of the conference ombuds?

Please read more about the SAA 2020 Annual Meeting ombuds.


What sort of issues and concerns come to the conference ombuds?

You may bring any concern to the conference ombuds, including, among others:

  • All types of identity-based concerns
  • Harassment (including sexual harassment)
  • Free speech and free expression
  • Integrity issues / Intellectual property / Research concerns
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Problems about the hotel, safety, etc.
  • Issues related to the Society for American Archaeology


What dates and times will the ombuds be available?

The ombuds welcome visitors during all times when the Society is sponsoring conference events and additionally can meet or talk with visitors before or after these hours by arrangement. All hours are in Central Time.

Weds April 22:  11:00am – 8:30pm

Thur April 23:   8:00 am – 10:00pm

Fri April 24:   8:00am – 9:00pm

Sat April 25:    8:00am – 7:30pm

Sun April 26:    8:00am – 12:00pm


If I have a concern on someone else's behalf at the Conference may I contact the ombuds, or is this service only for people who are concerned about themselves?

Ombuds welcome those with a serious concern about colleagues or a conference situation as well as those with a complaint about something that affects themselves.


Will my communications with the conference ombuds be confidential? Are there exceptions to this confidentiality?

One of the ethical principles of an organizational ombuds is to hold all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.


What authority does the conference ombuds have?
The ombuds will serve as an independent, neutral, off-the-record, and confidential resource for conference attendees to discuss any concerns they may have concerning conference related behaviors and activities. The ombuds will be able to provide information confidentially and will provide a safe place for people to discuss their concerns in a confidential way to explore options for any further action.  The ombuds will not, however, be authorized to serve as a place where notice of claims can be given to SAA. Likewise, the ombuds will not have responsibility or authority to formally investigate any issues raised. 


Who is reading the emails and answering the ombuds phone numbers?

Only David and Elaine have access to read and respond to emails that come into the confidential email address (saaombuds@gmail.com). The unique phone number (512-766-6455) rings only to David and Elaine and voice messages can only be accessed by David and Elaine.


Does the conference ombuds report to SAA on issues they dealt with at the conference?

The ombuds—without breaching the confidentiality of any communications by people using the services—will provide SAA with feedback on the nature of issues raised at the conference and any insights or observations about systemic issues relating to the conference or SAA.


What if I have a concern after the conference ends about a conference issue?

David and Elaine will monitor and respond to email and phone messages for 30 days following the end of the conference (until May 29, 2020).