Code of Conduct and Resources

IAIFI Code of Conduct

Regardless of their position or seniority, members of the IAIFI and participants in IAIFI activities are expected to:

  • Act in an ethical and collaborative manner at all times and abide by the MIT Physics Community Values
  • Work with the utmost scientific integrity and respect the confidentiality of information and work presented at internal IAIFI meetings
  • Treat each other with dignity and respect, support and encourage each other’s growth, and step in as needed to maintain an environment free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying
  • Abide by MIT’s Non-Discrimination Policy, and more broadly, not discriminate against nor denigrate each other for reasons including, but not limited to: age, appearance, culture, career status, disability, ethnicity, family and relationship situation, gender identity, immigration status, nationality, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status.

Furthermore, members of the IAIFI and participants in IAIFI activities may not engage in retaliation against anyone for objecting to a behavior that may violate this code, reporting a violation of this code, or participating in the resolution of such a complaint.

See below for instructions on reporting violations, definitions of terms, and links to resources.

Resources

Reporting Violations to the Code of Conduct

Process

Reports of Code of Conduct (CoC) violations may be made to the IAIFI management and board directly, or to any member of the Early Career and Equity Committee (ECEC). The emails and positions of ECEC members are listed below. ECEC members do not provide counseling or support services; their role in this context is to direct complainants to available resources, including providing a reporting channel to the IAIFI management and board. You may also submit fully anonymous reports via the general IAIFI suggestion/feedback form; however, note that IAIFI management and board may be limited in their ability to investigate complaints that do not contain personal identifying information.

Once a CoC violation is reported to the IAIFI management and board, they will work to address it in conjunction with the human resources administration(s) of the relevant institution(s). Consequences for CoC violations may include a verbal or written warning, removal from IAIFI events, loss of IAIFI membership privileges, reporting to the relevant university offices, or other remedies as appropriate.

Confidentiality

Information provided to individual members of the ECEC will be shared with an ECEC faculty or staff member (typically the chair), and depending on circumstances may be shared with the full committee, although complainants may request that their identity not be shared. In general, conversations with ECEC members are private, in the sense described here, rather than confidential.

That is, the ECEC “will usually keep the conversation undisclosed (if requested), but, depending on the circumstances, information may need to be shared with other Institute officials. Information needs to be shared in cases of sexual misconduct, hazing, serious concern about health and safety, or when the law requires a release of information. In such cases, information will be shared with the relevant parties who can assist with responding to the situation.” For example, this could involve reporting to the Title IX office of the relevant institution.

Whenever possible, ECEC members will ask complainants for permission and/or inform complainants of where their information will go next, before the complaint is shared outside the ECEC. In particular, the ECEC will not directly notify a person accused of violating the CoC of the complaint against them. However, once a report leaves the ECEC, the existence and content of the complaint may be shared by institutional officials as part of the reporting and resolution process.

Clarification on Mandatory Reporting to Title IX Offices

Faculty and postdoc members of the IAIFI Board and ECEC are generally responsible employees under Title IX, meaning they may be required to inform their institutional Title IX offices if they learn of incidents of gender-based discrimination including sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and stalking. The ECEC as a whole has similar reporting obligations. Graduate student members of ECEC are generally not responsible employees, but if in doubt, ask before disclosing information that you do not want shared; note that information about incidents given to any ECEC member will be shared with the full ECEC (with the complainant’s identity removed, if requested), which may impose reporting obligations. Reporting to an institutional Title IX office (either by a complainant directly or via a third party) will not generally trigger an automatic formal investigation. However, for detailed and up-to-date policies on how Title IX offices respond to complaints at the various IAIFI institutions, please consult their websites listed below.

Reporting Resources

Current ECEC Membership:

  • Faculty: Tracy Slatyer (MIT, Chair), Email; Edo Berger (Harvard), Email
  • Postdocs/Fellows: Harold Erbin (MIT), Email; Siddharth Mishra-Sharma (MIT), Email
  • PhD Students: Katie Fraser (Harvard), Email; Kiranjyot (Jasmine) Gill (Harvard), Email; Anindita Maiti (Northeastern), Email

Resources for Discrimination/Harassment based on Protected Categories

(Not Confidential)

Detailed policies on how the Title IX offices respond to complaints at the various IAIFI institutions can be found at:
MIT | Tufts | Northeastern | Harvard

Ombuds Resources

(Confidential)

Confidential Resources for Sexual Assault/Violence

Mental Health and Counseling Resources

MIT | Tufts | Northeastern | Harvard

Institutional Harassment and Discrimination Policies

MIT | Tufts | Northeastern | Harvard | NSF

Definitions

The Code of Conduct uses several phrases which may need further explanation; a list of relevant resources is provided here. These definitions are not intended to be authoritative and watertight, especially when applied to contexts outside the IAIFI: they are provided only as guidance to clarify the meaning of the IAIFI Code of Conduct.

ethical and collaborative manner
Members of the IAIFI and participants in IAIFI activities should be aware of and adhere to the policies of their own institutions on responsible and ethical conduct. For example, MIT’s policies are described here. The intended meaning of collaborative is described in the MIT Physics Values Statement: “When we collaborate, we take other people’s ideas seriously and recognize that they might understand concepts and approach problems differently. Exclusion or derision of others based on different points of view is not acceptable. Collaboration requires sharing knowledge and skills, and is based on appropriately acknowledging everyone’s intellectual contributions.”
the utmost scientific integrity
Members of the IAIFI and participants in IAIFI activities should be aware of and adhere to the academic misconduct policies of their own institutions, including any reporting obligations. In particular, any fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or deliberate interference in research activities (see the link below for definitions) is research misconduct and a violation of the IAIFI’s Code of Conduct. Honest errors or differences of opinion do not qualify as misconduct. For example, MIT’s policy is here. (In particular, plagiarism includes any appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit, including in the context of authorship.)
respect the confidentiality of information and work presented at internal IAIFI meetings
The content of meetings with restricted attendance should not be shared outside that group without the permission of the presenter, unless the same content is already publicly available. If in doubt, ask the person who presented the material.
step in as needed to maintain an environment…
The Code of Conduct places responsibility on all IAIFI members and participants for actively maintaining a healthy environment, but does not require members and participants to respond to problems by immediately confronting those involved. Appropriate strategies for bystander intervention are context-dependent and rely on personal judgement. However, all IAIFI members and participants are asked to be active bystanders—people who take steps that can make a difference when they observe unacceptable behavior. These steps could include strategies to defuse the situation, to forestall future similar incidents, or to support the person/people targeted. This link provides guidance on being an active bystander. Hosts for IAIFI talks and other events are especially encouraged to explore these resources and preemptively plan strategies for dealing with inappropriate behavior.
discrimination
Discrimination occurs when a person is subject to negative or adverse treatment that denies or limits the individual’s ability to obtain educational benefits or interferes with the work environment, based on one or more of the protected characteristics described in the IAIFI Code of Conduct and institutional anti-discrimination policies. (Source, slightly modified for the IAIFI context)
harassment
Harassment is defined as words, conduct, or action (usually repeated or persistent) that, being directed at a specific person, annoys, alarms, or causes substantial emotional distress in that person and serves no legitimate purpose. (Source)
bullying
Bullying occurs when someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. (Source) Typical examples of workplace bullying are discussed in this document.
retaliation
Retaliation is any adverse action, harassment, threats, or other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from making a report or participating in a complaint review process. Examples are provided here.
culture, ethnicity, national origin, race
In the US, race typically refers to one’s ancestral origins in the original peoples of a particular region, and for Native Americans, tribal affiliation or community attachment (see here for the standards used in the U.S. Census). Ethnicity refers primarily to cultural and linguistic background, and in the US is frequently classified as either Hispanic or non-Hispanic; culture is intended to refer to cultural affiliations more generally. National origin refers to the country in which a person was born or where their ancestors lived. There is overlap between these descriptions, but to give a few examples, any discrimination based on a person’s ancestry, color, place of origin, accent, mode of speaking, or cultural background, is generally a Code of Conduct violation (and also potentially a violation of US law).
family and relationship situation, gender identity, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation
The American Psychological Association defines sex as “the anatomical, physiological and genetic characteristics associated with being male or female”, and gender identity as a person’s “internal sense of being male, female, or something else” (note both are distinct from cultural norms and stereotypes that characterize behavior as masculine or feminine). Sex and gender identity may or may not align, and not everyone falls into the binary male/female classification. Sexual orientation refers to a person’s pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction (or lack thereof) to men, women, and non-binary people. Family and relationship situation is a term covering, for example, whether someone is married, in a non-marital relationship, or single, and whether they have children. Note that discriminating against someone based on whether they conform to expectations of their sex/gender, how they express their gender identity, or whether their gender identity differs from their sex at birth, is a Code of Conduct violation. The ban against pregnancy-related discrimination also covers pregnancy-related conditions.
age
The Code of Conduct forbids discrimination based on an adult’s age. This clause does not bar treating minors differently than adults.
appearance
The Code of Conduct forbids discrimination based on appearance. In context, appearance refers primarily to physical characteristics (including weight, height, hair texture and style, skin color, facial features, etc); this clause does not bar requiring participants to change offensive or inappropriate clothing in order to attend IAIFI events.
career status
In the IAIFI context, the Code of Conduct forbids discrimination based on a person’s status as a (senior or junior) faculty member, staff member, postdoctoral researcher or Fellow, graduate student, or undergraduate student. This clause does not bar requiring a specific career status as a prerequisite for certain roles (e.g. requiring PIs to be faculty).
disability
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a disability as “any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).” Not all disabilities are visible.
immigration status
Whether a person is a US citizen, permanent resident, present in the US on a visa, or undocumented. These factors may affect eligibility of IAIFI members for various benefits or positions due to US law or institutional policies; taking these factors into account does not violate the Code of Conduct.
nationality
One’s country (or countries) of citizenship.
religion
The Code of Conduct bars discrimination based on someone’s religion; this also covers discrimination based on other sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs (as defined here).
veteran status
The Code of Conduct bars discrimination based on whether someone is serving, has formerly served, or intends to serve in the (United States) military.