Actions Since Albuquerque

Sep 13, 2019

The Society for American Archaeology is committed to the safety of our members and attendees at all of our events. The following is a list of the actions that SAA has taken since April 15, 2019 to improve member safety and organizational communications. We are committed to continuing this work by all possible means and will continue to update this list as new changes are implemented. 



  • At the initiative of about 800 members, the Society received a referendum for a change to its Bylaws.
  • The Bylaws Committee reviewed both the member-submitted bylaws referendum and a Board-proposed amendment. Intelliscan is SAA's independent voting vendor, who conducted the bylaws ballot including the referendum amendment, an alternative broader amendment and the recommendation of the Bylaws Committee. A voting FAQ is available here.
  • Intelliscan shared the results of the Bylaws referendum, which was announced to membership on November 22, 2019.


Annual Meeting Changes

  • The 2020 Call for Submissions required a self-certification statement asking submitters to affirm that there have not been negative findings from an adjudicating body (like a Title IX investigation, an RPA suspension, etc.).
  • The SAA President set its opening plenary session on the topic of sexual harassment, titled “What is at Stake? The impacts of inequity and harassment on the practice of archaeology.”
  • SAA has contracted with the SAFE Institute of Austin to conduct two workshops at the Austin meeting, one on Wednesday, April 22, from 3:30 – 5:00 pm and one on Friday, April 24, from noon – 1:30 pm. These workshops focus on building skills to identify, prevent, and respond to situations that promote exclusion and discrimination, and all Board members will attend at least one of these workshops. We are subsidizing the event so the student cost is $5 to attend and nonstudents $30 to attend. All proceeds go directly to the SAFE Institute’s programs supporting survivors of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Learn more at
  • The Board announced new Meeting Safety Policy on January 3, 2020.
  • The Board will have an open town hall on Thursday from noon – 1:00 pm.
  • The Board will modify its Business Meeting with more accessible seating and a projector to share visual information about Organizational Actions and Changes.
  • The SAA will hire two ombuds--an independent and confidential resource--for all meeting attendees to have the option to consult.

Organizational Changes

  • To facilitate better dialogue with members, the Board announced a new social media policy on September 16, 2019.
  • All SAA staff participated in anti-sexual harassment training on July 10, 2019.
  • SAA’s Native American Scholarship Program needs to be—and is—Title IX compliant because we use National Science Foundation funds for many of those scholarships.
  • The Board created the SAA Task Force on Sexual and Anti-Harassment Policies and Procedures to review and update the SAA’s existing policies on sexual harassment (2015) and anti-harassment (2018) and the procedures for implementing these policies at SAA events, so that the situations that occurred at the 2019 SAA annual meeting do not happen again. The Task Force will report to the Board in October with short-term and longer-term recommendations on a schedule to be established in conjunction with its board liaison, President Watkins. The most recent update of the Task Force is published in the September issue of The SAA Archaeological Record.
  • The SAA is collaborating with other societies to address harassment.
    • The SAA President attended the EAA Presidents Lunch on gender equality.
    • The SAA supported the Intersocieties Summit on Harassment in Washington, DC, on September 19. Members of the Task Force will represent the Society.
    • In Austin, there will be a Regional Leadership Forum that will reconvene many of these groups to ensure we are all continuing to learn from one another.
  • SAA Board members have each signed a Board Commitment Form that includes a certification that they “not been the subject of a finding against the Board Member from a current or past employer’s investigation (such as a Title IX finding); that Board Member does not or has not had a disciplinary action such as a termination or suspension resulting from a Register for Professional Archaeologists’ grievance investigation; and that Board Member does not or has not had a criminal conviction for sexual harassment, assault, rape, or hate crime.” All future members of the Board must sign to serve.
  • SAA’s president and executive director have personally apologized to the conference attendees who encountered their harasser in Albuquerque, and have reimbursed their registrations and memberships. We have offered to reimburse the costs of their attendance to the meeting, which some have declined and one requested we make a donation to the Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship Fund. We made that donation on July 17. We understand that we have much more work to do to fully restore trust, and are developing clear policies to ensure our meetings are safe for everyone.
  • SAA has hired a communications firm to help the Society overhaul its practices and tools for engaging with members and to clearly explain the actions the Board will take to make the 2020 meeting a better one. 
  • SAA will be using an external Human Resources company starting January 1, 2020. The vendor has experience supporting nonprofits and all their human resource related concerns and will provide expert assistance to SAA should any harassment-related concerns or investigations arise.
  • SAA has hired new legal counsel with a background in ethics. Counsel works for the Board and Executive Director as an advisor.
  • The SAA President invited representatives to meet with the Board in Chicago during their fall meeting. He invited anyone to nominate another or themselves in two different emails to membership. In addition, all Committee chairs and Interest Group organizers were invited by their liaisons to self-nominate or nominate a member (of their committee, task force, interest group or generally a member of the Society). The Board elected to invite the two co-chairs of the SAA Task Force on Sexual and Anti-Harassment Policies and Procedures.