[Lingtyp] ALT: code of conduct

Andrew Garrett garrett at berkeley.edu
Tue Nov 21 21:33:19 UTC 2017

hi all,

thank you for the question. Again, I emphasize my outsider status and
express gratitude for being able to contribute to the conversation!

I would be surprised if anybody feels intimidated by the simple fact of an
open conversation; hopefully everybody is in favor of that. And so many
societies lack a meeting code of conduct that its absence may well not be
driving people away. But the current lingtyp conversation is definitely
being circulated (not by me), and observed, among linguists who are not ALT
members. Many linguists — possibly even most linguists! — do not
self-identify as primarily "typologists" but are interested in typology to
a greater or lesser degree; such people may choose whether or not to join
ALT and drift a little closer to the important academic world it
represents. If they perceive the climate in that world to be unsympathetic
to equity and inclusion, and unsupportive of people from diverse
backgrounds and communities, they may choose to go to a different
conference or join a different organization that seems friendlier to them.


On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 1:12 PM, Giorgio Francesco Arcodia <
giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it> wrote:

> Dear Andrew, dear all,
> This is what I read in your e-mail (my emphasis):
> "Clarity in this area, and an expressed position along the lines of the
> excellent ACL policy circulated by Emily Bender, *would probably also
> help draw people into ALT who are currently on the outside and (in some
> cases, I think) find themselves discouraged by some of the tenor of the
> current conversation*."
> English is obviously not my mother tongue, hence I might be
> misinterpreting your words, but what I understand is: there are people who
> would join (/participate in) ALT, but who are currently discouraged to do
> so by the fact that we are discussing the merits and demerits of a proposed
> Code of Conduct.
> If this is what you meant, I have to admit that, honestly, this is
> incomprehensible to me. Should we refrain from discussing in an open forum
> because otherwise people who are probably not even in this mailing list
> might feel intimidated? Above all, are there really cases of people who
> stay away from ALT because ALT does not have a code of conduct?
> On the other hand, I do agree that the ACL policy circulated by Emily
> Bender sounds much more reasonable than the original ALT proposal. As
> Sebastian Nordhoff cleverly pointed out, its purpose is clear and its scope
> is adequately defined, in my view. The ACL policy 1. discourages harassing
> etc.; 2. provides a fairly sensible procedure (i.e. how to deal with cases
> of *alleged* harassment), without assuming guilt.
> Lastly, I still haven't read a reply to David Gil's very clever and
> thought-provoking challenge: how about the 'Padang incident'? Or is that
> one fine, because it fits in our (Anglophone) Western conception of what is
> acceptable and what is not?
> Best,
> Giorgio F. Arcodia
> 2017-11-21 17:22 GMT+01:00 Andrew Garrett <garrett at berkeley.edu>:
>> Hi all -
>> Please forgive what may seem like an intrusion from a linguist who
>> happens to be on the ALT email list but is not an ALT member. From my
>> perspective (within a US linguistics department), it seems very important
>> that institutions and organizations provide clear statements regarding
>> harassment. Bullying and harassment, ranging on a spectrum from
>> intellectual bullying to sexual harassment (not to mention assault), are
>> constant problems in our public and academic life, and are all too easy to
>> minimize if we simply leave it up to our collective and individual
>> goodwill. Most scholars and scientists do have goodwill, but it is
>> incredibly easy for us to turn a blind eye to the problem of harassment,
>> and thereby disempower, devalue, and exclude the voices of those who
>> experience it, if we do not experience it ourselves.
>> Clarity in this area, and an expressed position along the lines of the
>> excellent ACL policy circulated by Emily Bender, would probably also help
>> draw people into ALT who are currently on the outside and (in some cases, I
>> think) find themselves discouraged by some of the tenor of the current
>> conversation.
>> Thank you for your discussions of this important subject. I wish all
>> professional societies were as engaged as ALT.
>> - Andrew Garrett
>> Andrew Garrett
>> Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics
>> Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith Professor of Cross-Cultural Social Sciences
>> Director, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages
>> 1203 Dwinelle Hall #2650
>> University of California
>> Berkeley CA 94720-2650
>> email: garrett at berkeley.edu
>> web: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~garrett
>> On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 6:07 AM, Emily M. Bender <ebender at uw.edu> wrote:
>>> Dear all,
>>> In case it is helpful for this discussion, here is a link to the
>>> anti-harassment policy recently adopted by the Association for
>>> Computational Linguistics, another international scholarly organization:
>>> https://aclweb.org/adminwiki/index.php?title=Anti-Harassment_Policy
>>> We (the ACL exec) are presently in the process of developing procedures
>>> to follow in case of  complaints raised under the policy.  These cases are
>>> never easy, and of course none of this is pleasant to think about.
>>> However, it is clear that despite the fact that most people attend academic
>>> conferences in good faith and without wishing to make the atmosphere
>>> unwelcoming to anyone, cases of harassment do occur, and that therefore the
>>> status quo is unacceptable.  Furthermore, it is a helpful, positive thing
>>> for professional organizations to set expectations.  That expectation
>>> setting in and of itself can help underrepresented groups feel more welcome
>>> and supported (and more likely to stick around in the field).  The "worst
>>> case" consequences in policies such as this are there to give them teeth,
>>> but are never automatic consequences of a complaint being raised.
>>> Emily
>>> p.s. Here's the text of the ACL policy:
>>> ===
>>> Anti-Harassment Policy
>>> The open exchange of ideas, the freedom of thought and expression, and
>>> respectful scientific debate are central to the aims and goals of the ACL.
>>> These require a community and an environment that recognizes the inherent
>>> worth of every person and group, that fosters dignity, understanding, and
>>> mutual respect, and that embraces diversity. For these reasons, ACL is
>>> dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for all the members, as
>>> well as participants at our events and in our programs.
>>> Harassment and hostile behavior are unwelcome at any ACL conference,
>>> associated event, or in ACL-affiliated on-line discussions. This includes:
>>> speech or behavior that intimidates, creates discomfort, or interferes with
>>> a person's participation or opportunity for participation in a conference
>>> or an event. We aim for ACL-related activities to be an environment where
>>> harassment in any form does not happen, including but not limited to:
>>> harassment based on race, gender, religion, age, color, appearance,
>>> national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, or gender
>>> identity. Harassment includes degrading verbal comments, deliberate
>>> intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, inappropriate
>>> physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. The policy is not
>>> intended to inhibit challenging scientific debate, but rather to promote it
>>> through ensuring that all are welcome to participate in shared spirit of
>>> scientific inquiry.
>>> It is the responsibility of the community as a whole to promote an
>>> inclusive and positive environment for our scholarly activities. In
>>> addition, anyone who experiences harassment or hostile behavior may contact
>>> any current member of the ACL Executive Committee ([1]) or contact
>>> Priscilla Rasmussen (acl at aclweb.org), who is usually available at the
>>> registration desk during ACL conferences. Members of the executive
>>> committee will be instructed to keep any such contact in strict confidence,
>>> and those who approach the committee will be consulted before any actions
>>> are taken.
>>> Implementation
>>> This policy should be posted prominently on all ACL conference and
>>> workshop webpages, with a notice of a list of people who can be contacted
>>> by community members with concerns. In case of a formal complaint, the
>>> contacted ACL representative(s) will first speak to all parties involved to
>>> try to resolve the issue without presupposition of guilt.
>>> Approved by ACL Executive Committee, 2016
>>> ===
>>> On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 5:13 AM, Good, Jeff <jcgood at buffalo.edu> wrote:
>>>> Dear all,
>>>> In light of the ongoing debate about the proposed code of conduct, I
>>>> would like to send a brief message on behalf of the ALT Executive Committee.
>>>> The ALT Executive Committee recognizes the importance of allowing open
>>>> debates on topics of relevance to the association and encourages members
>>>> with an opinion on the proposed code of conduct to voice their views
>>>> publicly on as they see fit. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, we
>>>> welcome further discussion of this topic at the upcoming biennial meeting.
>>>> We also encourage members to vote on the code (whether for or against)
>>>> as presently proposed, and we do not plan to propose a revised code before
>>>> the biennial meeting. Based on the discussion at the meeting, a revision to
>>>> the code can be developed if the present code is passed or a new code can
>>>> be proposed if the present proposal does not pass.
>>>> Best,
>>>> Jeff Good
>>>> President, Association for Linguistic Typology
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>> --
>>> Emily M. Bender
>>> Professor, Department of Linguistics
>>> Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
> --
> Prof. Dr. Giorgio Francesco Arcodia
> Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
> Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione
> Edificio U6 - stanza 4101
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