A Letter to SAA Members and a Video Message from Joe Watkins
Dear SAA Members,
As the last two weeks have made abundantly clear, the
archaeology profession is at a tipping point regarding the issue of systemic
sexual harassment. I stand with the SAA Board of Directors and the SAA staff in
acknowledging the enormity of this problem. Women in our field are
being disrespected, mistreated and assaulted and we have not done enough to
bring this issue to light. We
want to let you know that we hear you and we are ready to make the necessary
In the past, the Society for American Archaeology has
created task forces to address this issue. Unfortunately, these have not been
as effective as we had hoped. We understand how frustrating this has been for
many of our members. As the President of the Board, I pledge to address these
issues with the task force on sexual harassment and anti-harassment policies
and procedures, but that is just the beginning. Here’s our Six Point Plan:
- First, we will make this topic part of a presidential opening session in 2020.
- Second, SAA will develop a women's-focused event in DC to discuss these issues.
- Third, we will create an opportunity for representatives, with varying backgrounds and experiences within our membership, to have an open dialogue with the board.
- Fourth, we are committed to offering SAA Board, staff and member training on sexual harassment.
- Fifth, we will make it easier to communicate sensitive issues like this with SAA as well as have a counselor on site at the 2020 meeting.
- And, last, but not least, SAA will
share regular updates on the task force with the entire membership to ensure
this is an effective and lasting change.
When things get tough, we need members like you to
help guide us forward. We've read your emails, open letters, and social media
posts and are grateful for your input. We want to encourage members to join us
in our efforts to effect much-needed change. That said, the types of
change being discussed require that we conduct a civil conversation both online
and off. Placing blame or rehashing past mistakes is nowhere near as productive
as coming together to figure out what we need to do now.
We regret that we were not able to provide updates
sooner with members. Please note that this is a volunteer-run organization with
a small staff and we are doing our best to work quickly.
Thank you for your emails letters and calls. I am
dedicated and honored to serve as your President and will see to it that
changes are made for the betterment of our profession now, and in the future.