In light of recent reports and a growing national awareness of abuses of power and sexual misconduct among academics, I am writing to let AJS members know of concrete steps that the organization is taking to address the problem.
On November 20, 2017, the AJS issued its first comprehensive policy on the specific issue of sexual misconduct. In the future, members presenting at the AJS conference will be asked to indicate that they have read and understood the policy.
At the December 2017 board meeting, the AJS board approved the creation of a Sexual Misconduct Task Force charged with developing further policies and procedures around the issue of Sexual Misconduct. In January 2018, Dr. Laura Levitt was named chair of the Task Force. The composition of the Task Force, which included volunteers from the general membership, was finalized and a first meeting was held. From March to June 2018, the Task Force:
• Formulated climate survey questions to be included in the upcoming summer membership survey
• Received approval to invite a Title IX expert for a Title IX informational meeting for Jewish Studies program directors and department chairs at the Annual Conference
• Drafted a proposal, based on consultation with other learned societies and trained professionals, for (a) specific procedures for reporting and handling instances of sexual misconduct at AJS events and (b) appropriate training for AJS personnel who will be involved in the implementation of these procedures In late 2018 and 2019, the Sexual Misconduct Task Force will develop a set of online resources that can be accessed from the AJS website.
I am grateful for the extraordinary dedication and labor of the Sexual Misconduct Task Force and I urge all members to commit to creating an AJS that is free of all forms of harassment and discrimination.