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

  • Starting with the 2020 Call for Submissions, potential presenters are 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.” This session was scheduled for Austin and the co-chairs are determining if it can be held at the 2021 meeting in San Francisco.
  • After soliciting feedback from membership on a draft policy, the Board announced new Meeting Safety Policy on January 3, 2020.
  • The SAA hired two ombuds--an independent and confidential resource--for all Austin and now all San Francisco 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 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 was scheduled to be a Regional Leadership Forum that will reconvene many of these groups to ensure we are all continuing to learn from one another. This session  may be resubmitted for San Francisco in 2021.
  • 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.