AAG Event Conduct Policy

AAG Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy

The American Association of Geographers advocates a positive culture of inclusion and respect for the dignity of each individual. AAG opposes all forms of discrimination against and harassment on the basis of an individual’s race, age, religion, creed, color, ancestry, citizenship, national or ethnic origin, language preference, immigration status, disability, medical condition, military or veteran status, social or socioeconomic status or condition, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or any other classification protected by applicable local, state or federal law. This policy applies to attendees, AAG staff, speakers, exhibitors, or event venue staff at any AAG-sponsored event, as well as AAG-sponsored meeting social events (such as the international reception, exhibit hall networking events, field trips and receptions).

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Professional ideas and information are exchanged most effectively at the AAG Annual Meeting and other AAG events in an atmosphere free of discrimination or harassment and characterized by courtesy and respect. To that end, the AAG expects all individuals who attend the national conference or who participate in other AAG-sponsored events to conduct themselves in a manner that establishes an atmosphere free from discriminatory practices. All participants are expected to treat others with respect and consideration, follow venue rules, and alert staff or security when they have knowledge of dangerous situations, violations of this Event Conduct Policy, or individuals in distress. The purpose of this policy is three-fold: to foster a positive, harassment-free environment; to offer support for victims of harassment, and to provide for disciplinary action for violations of the policy.  This Conduct Policy applies to all attendees and participants at any AAG-sponsored event, including in online venues, and at AAG-sponsored meeting social events. All who register to participate, attend, speak at, or exhibit at an AAG event agree to comply with this Policy.

Harassment-Free AAG Support Services


Advocates are professionals trained to support victims of offending conduct as they offer individuals information, emotional support, and help in finding resources and filling out paperwork, such as filing a complaint with the AAG ombudsperson. You do not have to file a complaint to access the services of the advocate. If needed, the advocate will help you put together a safety plan at the meeting venue and a plan for when you return to your workplace. You can also meet with the advocate if you are seeking advice on how to help a friend or colleague who may be the victim of harassment.

Learn more about AAG’s Victim Advocate Natalie Dolci, LICSW


An external and independent ombudsperson is available off-site as the first point of contact for someone wanting to file a harassment complaint. The ombudsperson works with AAG staff and the Standing Committee in the handling of incident reports. The ombudsperson interacts with complainants and alleged harassers and investigates or supervises the investigation of the alleged incident.

The Ombudsperson provides consulting on development and implementation of codes of conduct for conferences and other professional settings; trains staff on code of conduct implementation; provides conference ombudsman services. Leads workshops on ally skills, harassment resistance, active bystander intervention. Other consulting work includes group facilitation, and leading workshops on diversity and inclusion. Clients include the American Geophysical Union, the American Society for Microbiology, the Geological Society of America, the Ecological Society of America, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Entomological Society of America, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the American Society for Microbiology and the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association.

Learn more about AAG’s Ombudsperson Sherry Marts of SMARTS Consulting

Harassment-Free AAG Reporting Process

If you have been subjected to or witness to a violation of AAG’s Event Conduct or Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, the AAG encourages you to report the incident. If you are unsure of how to report, any of the AAG staff can help you get to the right place. If you feel that you or someone else is in immediate danger, please call 911 or contact on-site security.

If you are not sure if you want to make a report, conference attendees are still entitled to receive confidential and free emotional support with the on-site victim advocate. Conference attendees who wish to report an incident of harassment can contact the AAG’s External Ombudsperson or an AAG staff member, who will direct them to the AAG Ombudsperson’s contact information.

Prohibited Behavior

AAG prohibits any form of harassment, sexual or in other forms, as set forth in its Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy (above).

Accordingly, some behaviors are specifically prohibited, whether directed at other attendees, AAG staff, speakers, exhibitors, or event venue staff.

Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning conduct by any attendees at the event and related event activities. Discussion of opposing or different viewpoints is appropriate but is expected to be conducted in respectful tone and manner that avoids personal attacks. AAG defines harassment to include: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, gender identity, or disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides); deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; and unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention. In assessing whether following, physical conduct or sexual attention violates this policy, AAG will consider both whether the conduct was subjectively unwelcome to the recipient and whether the alleged violator had a reasonable, objective basis to believe the conduct was invited.

Sexual harassment specifically refers to verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and offensive to the recipient, such that it impairs the recipient’s ability to fully participate, enjoy, or engage in the AAG event. By way of example, sexual harassment may include such conduct as unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; unwelcome verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; an unwelcome display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; and offensive, unwanted physical contact such as patting, pinching, grabbing, groping, or constant brushing against another’s body.

Prohibited harassment also includes physical or verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, efforts to annoy others, harassment, stalking, pushing, shoving or use of any physical force whatsoever against any person, which creates a disturbance that is disruptive or dangerous, or creates reasonable apprehension in a person.

Attendees or other event participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

As at any conference or professional event, participants often combine professional activities with social interaction with other participants, venue staff, and other attendees. While AAG encourages such networking and strengthening of connections between participants, AAG reserves the right to remove any participant whose social attentions become unwelcome to another and who persists in such attentions after their unwelcome nature has been communicated. AAG also reserves the right to remove or exclude any participant or attendee who appears inebriated and who engages in conduct that interferes with the ability of other attendees to participate in and enjoy the conference.