Code of Conduct

This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participants in ExplOrigins events, as well as steps to reporting unacceptable behavior. We are committed to working to provide a welcoming, safe, and inspiring community for all and expect our code of conduct to be honored. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be asked to leave an event.


1. Participation Guidelines

In following the code of conduct, you should keep the following expectations about behavior in mind, which are essential for creating a welcoming and safe environment:

  • Physical, sexual, and verbal harassment are unacceptable.
  • Do not discriminate against people because of their identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, age, class background, ability, religion, and more).
  • We expect participants to work together to create a welcoming, inclusive, and safe(r) environment for people from diverse backgrounds.

You should take the time to read about what constitutes harassment and discrimination in our full Code of Conduct (below). However, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when checking whether you are putting the Code of Conduct into practice:

Ask for consent (i.e. permission) and respect people’s boundaries.

Ask for permission before you engage in physical interactions with participants. This applies to everything from friendly interactions, such as asking “Can I hug you?” before you hug someone, to sexual attention and/or sexualized physical contact at conference social events or after hours, off-site. If you ask someone’s permission and they indicate no, respect that and don’t continue. Sexual harassment (including verbal comments or gestures) is unacceptable, including online, at conference social events, and during event after-hours.

Be considerate in your interactions with others and careful about the words you use. Is the language that you’re using discriminatory?

There is a lot of everyday language which discriminates against people, and interactions that seem harmless from one perspective may perpetuate bias when viewed from another. We ask that participants be thoughtful in the language you use and avoid using terms or phrases that—overtly or implicitly—discriminate against minorities such as people of color, LGBTQ+ people, or those with disabilities. We also ask that community members are sensitive to microaggressions[i] and unconscious bias. If someone calls you out for using problematic language or microaggressions, please take the time to listen, apologize, and put effort into not using the language again. You may be asked to leave the community for using this kind of language.

Be mindful of how much time and space you’re taking up. Be aware of the dynamics of power and privilege, and whether you’re taking advantage of it.

Are you taking up a disproportionate amount of time for questions or discussion? Are you giving a chance for participants from an underrepresented country or a marginalized group to speak? Are you attempting to engage in a physical or intimate interaction with someone who doesn’t have the capacity to consent (e.g. at an evening social event with alcohol)? Are you taking the time to listen to the perspectives of those who are different from you? We ask that participants be considerate of how their actions shape the community and create space for others to participate fully themselves.


2. Anti-Harassment Policy

We value your participation. We do not tolerate harassment of ExplOrigins members in any form. ExplOrigins members asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Our Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy extend to all aspects of ExplOrigins where individuals’ behavior affects the ability of others to participate. This includes online interactions and communication platforms (e.g. Slack), as well as “after hours” gatherings, including evening social events. All participants, including sponsors, are subject to the anti-harassment policy.

If needed, ExplOrigins will provide information for participants to contact local law enforcement and will also make efforts to provide escorts or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe, at the request of a participant. A full list of potential sanctions is provided below.


3. Harassment Definitions

For purposes of this code of conduct, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct interferes with an individual’s ability to participate in ExplOrigins events or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Some examples of sexual harassment include (but are not limited to):

  • Unwelcome and repeated flirtations, propositions, advances, or other sexual attention—including gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behavior
  • Unwelcome physical contact 
  • Whistling
  • Looking at someone in a way that makes them uncomfortable
  • Improper gestures
  • Use of stereotypes 
  • Offensive, insulting, derogatory, or degrading remarks
  • Unwelcome comments about appearance 
  • Sexual jokes or use of sexually explicit or offensive language 
  • Gender- or sex-based pranks 
  • Display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures
  • Demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable or preferential treatment

Other harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, personal appearance, political affiliation, marital status, family responsibilities, veteran status, matriculation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, or any other legally protected status, and that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for participation or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s ability to participate in the community.

Some examples of other harassment include (but are not limited to):

  • Offensive comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, race, age, regional discrimination, lifestyle, political or religious affiliation
  • Using epithets or slurs
  • Mocking, ridiculing, or mimicking another’s culture, accent, appearance, or custom
  • Deliberate misgendering. This includes deadnaming[ii] or persistently using a pronoun that does not correctly reflect a person’s gender identity. Address people by the name on their name tag (or by their username or handle, if appropriate) unless they invite you to refer to them by another name.
  • Threats of violence, both physical and psychological
  • Deliberate intimidation
  • Incitement of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm
  • Physical contact and simulated physical contact without consent or after a request to stop
  • Stalking or following
  • Harassing photography or recording, including logging online activity for harassment purposes
  • Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease
  • Deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent except as necessary to protect others from intentional abuse
  • Publication of non-harassing private communication

We will not act on complaints regarding reverse-isms (e.g. reverse racism, reverse sexism), reasonable communication of boundaries (such as “leave me alone”), refusal to explain or debate topics, or criticism of ‘tone’ or oppressive behavior.


4. Reporting Issues

If you experience or witness unacceptable behavior—or have any other concerns—please report the issue by the means described below. 

If you experience or witness behavior that violates the code of conduct, please either speak directly to one of the ExplOrigins organizers or submit a report using THIS FORM. Alternatively, you may also submit reports directly to the organizers at Georgia Tech faculty member Jennifer Glass has agreed to assist ExplOrigins in enforcing this code when appropriate. All reports will be handled with discretion.

If you are more comfortable submitting a report anonymously, simply do not include your name and contact information in the form linked above. We will do our best to respond to the situation, and reports submitted anonymously are taken seriously; however, submitting anonymously may inhibit the committee’s ability to take specific action.

In your report, please do your best to include:

  • Your contact information
  • Identifying information of the participant who has violated the code of conduct
  • The behavior that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behavior (if different than the time the report was made)
  • Where the code of conduct violation happened
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in or witness to the incident
  • If you believe the incident is ongoing, please let us know
  • If there is a publicly available record (e.g. mailing list record), please include a link, or any relevant documentation
  • Any additional helpful information


5. How We Respond to Reports

Responses to reports are decided by the ExplOrigins organizers.

After a report is submitted, the incident will be documented, the ExplOrigins organizers will be notified, and the person making the report will be contacted (if possible) to confirm the report, gather more information, and determine how the person making the report can be best supported. All reports will be investigated to the extent the details provided allow. The organizers will meet to discuss the report and decide what actions to take, in consultation with the person making the report, if known, and in as timely a manner as possible. During this part of the process, we will do our best to protect your confidentiality, if you wish your report to be confidential; however, reporting an incident anonymously or wishing not to disclose key details (e.g. the name of the person being reported) may inhibit the committee’s ability to take action. Once appropriate actions are determined by the committee, they will be communicated to the person who violated the code of conduct and the person making the report.

Actions in response to reports can range from warnings with instructions on how to correct behavior that violated the code of conduct to immediate removal from ExplOrigins events, online communities (e.g. email lists, Slack), and future engagement.

If you have concerns with the process provided (or if the process is unclear), you can contact ExplOrigins at the means described above, and the committee will make efforts to provide support.


The following is a list of potential sanctions for anyone who violates the code of conduct, depending on the severity of the violation. The sanctions will be decided by the ExplOrigins organizers:

  • Warning the accused to cease their behavior and that further reports may result in sanctions
  • Ending a talk that violates the policy early
  • Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give (further) talks at the event
  • Immediately ending any event volunteer responsibilities and privileges the accused holds
  • Requiring that the accused not volunteer for future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Requiring that the accused immediately leave the event and not return
  • Banning the accused from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Being banned or blocked on online community platforms, e.g. Slack
  • Being reported to the proper authorities


6. Questions

For additional guidance of codes of conduct in general, you may find Ashe Dryden’s introduction to codes of conduct and frequently asked questions helpful.

This code was adapted with permission from the 7th Annual Southeastern Biogeochemistry Symposium, which was an adaption from the OpenCon2018 code of conduct:


[i] Microaggressions are the brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual-orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group. 

Adapted from Sue, D. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, p.5.

[ii] Deadnaming refers to someone who has changed their name by their previous name