MAA News – Ad Hoc Committee on Harassment at the Annual Meeting

It has long come to the attention of members of the Medieval Academy of America that policies need to be established and formally registered concerning behavioral expectations for MAA Annual Meetings. The MAA encourages open discourse among colleagues of all disciplines and career stages, and does so anticipating healthy differences of opinion over a wide variety of scholarly issues. The openness of our discourse means that everyone, each individual person, needs to feel safe while engaged in the collaborative work of our annual meeting. Protection must be afforded for all members from negative or threatening actions, including verbal abuse, discrimination, bullying, and harassment of any type, including sexual harassment. The means of enforcing these policies are to be discussed by a newly-established Ad Hoc Committee, with suggested proposals for reporting and adjudication of formal complaints to be presented as part of its work. At some stage we will also need to have counsel vet the proposal before we post it and make it official policy.

The charge of the Ad Hoc Committee, established by president Margot Fassler and chaired by 2nd VP Ruth Mazo Karras, will be to develop these formal policies and proposals for enforcement.

The committee will work from January 2018 to January 2019, with regular reporting by Professor Karras to the Executive Committee of the MAA on progress being made. Policies and procedures evolved will then be vetted by the Executive Committee in preparation for their formal presentation to the Council at the annual meeting in 2019. If they are deemed ready, a vote will be taken and they will be posted as part of our literature.

It would also be possible, if the committee deems it is ready, to submit the proposal to the Executive Committee in the early Fall, 2018, to receive their feedback, to amend the proposal accordingly, and to present it to the Council electronically. In that case, it might be possible to have the policies in place for the 2019 annual meeting. This possibility should not be seen, however, as an inducement or prod to work in haste.

The committee — chosen to represent multiple constituencies within the Medieval Academy — has been named as follows:

Theodore Chelis; Michelle Sauer; Wan-Chuan Kao; Laura Morreale; Therese Martin; and Ruth Mazo Karras, Chair

An initial report will be given by Professor Karras at the Annual Meeting of the Council, March, 2018. Please contact Prof. Karras <> with questions or concerns about the work of this committee

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