FASSM: The International Faculty and Staff Sexual Misconduct Conference


The organizers are committed to making this meeting productive, enjoyable, and safer for everyone, regardless of sex or gender and affirming participants of all gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, disabilities, physical appearances, body sizes, races, nationalities, religions/beliefs and other identity statuses. Registration at the conference indicates that you are willing to abide by this Code of Conduct interactions with other conference attendees at at the conference.

This conference will be bringing together participants from different backgrounds, with different worldviews, political orientations, religions, and other characteristics. The general principle behind this Code of Conduct is therefore to create an environment where a range of views can be accommodated, even if this means we hear views that we do not agree with. The organizing committee will be on hand, with the support of specialist counseling services, to support people to cope with issues that may come up during the conference.

1. Inclusivity

  • Sexual misconduct, harassment and violence will not be tolerated. Sexual misconduct can include harassment, assault, grooming, coercion, bullying, sexual invitations and demands, comments, non-verbal communication, creation of atmospheres of discomfort, and promised resources in exchange for sexual access. This might manifest as (but is not limited to): sexually intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, showing or sharing sexualized images, photography without permission, and stalking. See ‘About Sexual Misconduct’ by The 1752 Group for additional descriptions.
  • The conference has a no tolerance policy for language, discrimination, or harassment/bullying of any kind, and certainly when based on sexism, racism, biphobia, queerphobia, homophobia, transphobia, audism, and ableism. See the section on ‘raising issues’ below for further information about what no tolerance means and how such comments will be addressed.
  • Please do not comment on others’ gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or other social identities or characteristics.
  • Any time you plan to describe a specific experience of sexual harassment or trauma, especially when you will describe details of the specific harms inflicted, please provide trigger warnings or ask for permission to share, and do not assume that other attendees are equipped to handle the burden of secondary trauma that can come from bearing witness to harm.
  • Please make sure you are acquainted with some of the challenges that survivors of faculty and staff sexual misconduct in higher education experience. The terms “gaslighting,” “DARVO,” and “institutional betrayal” are examples of commonly used concepts. For more information, please see Jennifer Freyd’s research on DARVO and institutional betrayal, and Robin Stern’s work on gaslighting. Please also feel free to send additional suggestions for background reading to the conference committee.
  • Inclusivity requires accessibility. We ask that all participants consider methods that can be used to ensure universal access to communication:
    • Use the microphones provided when you speak, even if you think or have been told that your voice is “loud enough to hear”.
    • Where sign language interpreters are working, make sure they are able to hear you, especially when speaking with others during non-conference times and where microphones may not be available.
    • Follow universal design as much as possible in creating visuals and handouts. Principles of universal design can be found here. We recommend the “perception” principles, but also encourage exploration of all of the principles that can facilitate accessible communication:


2. Communication and interactions

  • Many of us are accustomed to attending academic conferences where we engage in debate and intellectual sparring. This conference is different. We are aiming for a truly transnational collaboration, where voices and ideas that are not always expressed or heard are explicitly supported. Remember that what is considered polite and respectful may differ across cultures and err on the side of being supportive when in doubt. Do not, for example, raise your voice; keep comments constructive; be positive as often as possible. Recognize as well that different cultures exhibit positivity and constructiveness differently.
  • All communication should be appropriate for an international audience including sexual assault survivors and people of many different backgrounds.
  • The following are our expectations for communication and interactions with other attendees:
    • There may be times when you need to challenge what another conference participant is saying. In this case please be sure to phrase your remarks so that it is clear that you are challenging the view, not the person. You might, for example, say “If I have understood the idea correctly, the suggestion is this… And one of the questions/worries about that position might be this…” instead of saying, “You’re wrong” or using phrases that signify personal rejection. Many participants are talking about issues that are deeply personal, and may be tentatively proposing these ideas for the first time. It is important that we not shut each other down, and that we view the conference as an opportunity to collaborate rather than to critique.
    • Be active listeners. This means a) paying attention to both words and body language to try to fully understand meaning; b) paraphrasing a speaker’s words to reflect that listening has occurred and before expressing your own opinion. Active listening can help reduce conflict even where parties disagree.
    • Recognize that differences in opinion will occur and treat those differences of opinion as legitimate outcomes of different lived experiences. This includes using active listening and being willing to disagree.
    • Remember that we are an international group, and that there will be varying norms and assumptions that may be associated with both conduct and the words we use to describe that conduct. So, for example, words such as ‘civility’ and ‘politeness’ and ‘respect’ have very different connotations. For some, civility means claiming and caring for one’s own identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading others’ identities in the process. For others, ‘civility’ is a word with gendered and racial overtones that has been used to criticize the savage versus the civilized behavior of activists at sit-ins and other protests. Before you ask others to show respect, be polite, or be civil, pause and think about what that might mean in a transnational context, and whether the attempt to mute the protest, anger, or other expression of emotion is a form of gendered and/or racialized/white supremacist/colonialist silencing.
    • Ask for permission before sharing personal experiences around sexual misconduct and violence. This includes respecting an individual’s wish not to share or be asked to listen to specific details.
    • Avoid barriers to communication, including name calling and shouting.
  • If you feel that communication or interaction has been problematic in a particular section or context, please follow the instructions under ‘raising concerns’ below.


3. Being in a space with other survivors

  • Please be aware that there is no requirement to share your experiences of sexual or gender violence, nor are you required to listen as others share. We hope you will be and feel safe in sitting within this space in whatever way is most comfortable for you.
  • If you do wish to share your experience of sexual or gender violence, or other experiences of oppression, with other attendees, please get consent first. Consent can be an explicit question, or an introductory signal in your language that you will be talking about violence/harassment such as “As a survivor” or “When I was going through my experience” or “When I experienced”. Be aware that hearing about others’ experiences may be triggering or difficult for others. If you are the listener in this scenario, asking someone to stop might sound like “I’m not comfortable/in the right space/ready right now” to hear this. The conference is a space where we aspire to affirm our experiences of misconduct and identities as survivors, while also recognizing the emotional toll of discussing and hearing about violence and harassment.
  • There will be trained counseling support available throughout the conference and we encourage you to draw on this support.
  • If you find yourself in a position where you are hearing another’s experience and you are finding this difficult, please feel free to 1) alert them to the availability of counseling services, 2) draw on the services of the counseling services yourself, and/or 3) alert one of the organizing committee if you have concerns.


4. Self-care

  • Resources will be available during the conference as well as a dedicated quiet space to support people’s attendance.
  • We would encourage you to take time out from the formal conference sessions whenever you need to. You can also leave sessions at any time without explanation.


5. Photographing, videoing, and audio recording policy

Taking and sharing photographs or videos, especially on social media, can be an important way to build community and engage our networks on the issues we will discuss at the conference. However, not everyone is comfortable with having their photographs taken or shared. With this in mind, we ask that you:

  • Do not photograph, video or audio record anyone without their express permission. This means asking everyone involved before taking photographs.
  • Ask before posting photographs or videos that include others on social media.
  • Please respect responses if people are uncomfortable or refuse to be photographed, recorded, or have images posted on social media. Many of us will have experienced violations of our autonomy and/or privacy.

We will make announcements about photographing or videoing keynote or panel speakers, based on their preferences, at the start of these sessions.


6. Social media policy

  • There may be highly sensitive information being shared during this conference.
    • Facilitators of each workshop will designate whether it is a no-sharing session. This means no sharing, including on social media via tweeting, etc.
    • Participants should be aware that the conference is not a confidential space, and therefore should be aware that there is a risk that material may be shared on social media despite agreements.
  • The policy above for respectful speech also applies to tweets and social media posts and engagement about the conference.


7. Raising concerns

  • Our aim is that all participants are empowered to raise concerns with other participants during the conference if they feel that this code of conduct is not being followed. However, we are aware that power and status are relational, and that depending on our own positionality, it may not feel possible to voice concerns. There is no expectation that participants will do raise concerns if they would rather not.
  • If you are concerned about any behavior that is inconsistent with this code of conduct, please know that if you alert a member of the organizing committee – our names are below, and we will also introduce ourselves at the start of the conference – we will hear and take seriously your concerns. You can also send an email to ‘Code of Conduct’ in the subject line.
  • Any participants asked to stop any behavior inconsistent with this code of conduct are expected to comply, and support will be offered if needed.

If you notice any further ways in which the conference could be made more inclusive, please use one of the following mechanisms: 1) raise ideas or concerns in person with one of the organizing committee; 2) email with the phrase ‘Code of Conduct’ in the subject line; 3) send a message through WhatsApp to FASSM Conference. You can download the free WhatsApp application to your phone.


8. Workshops

Written guidelines on holding the space will be provided at each workshop session, and a facilitator will be present at each workshop session


9. Sharing Space and Poster Session

There will be a dedicated session during the conference for participants to promote and disseminate materials about your current campaigns and ongoing work. We are requesting participants to disseminate materials during this session only, and not to do so outside of this dedicated space. More details about the Sharing Space and Poster Session will be provided closer to the conference.