Code of Conduct for the ASPA Annual Conference

Instituted February 2019; updated March 2021, October 2021

The ASPA Annual Conference is built on an important framework: Bringing together those committed to the public good is an important purpose that supports the Society’s mission of advancing excellence in public service. A freeflowing exchange of ideas and educational interchange are important and necessary for advancing the art, study, teaching and practice of public administration, as well effective professional development for those invested in our field.

In support of these goals, ASPA is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all conference participants. We also are committed to providing an environment that is free from harassment or discrimination in all its forms, including age, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, health, socioeconomic status, marital status, domestic status, parental status, physical appearance or body size. Such conduct is contrary to ASPA’s values and high standards of ethical practice. These standards include the principles of treating all persons with fairness, justice and equality; respecting individual differences, rights and freedoms; and promoting affirmative action and other initiatives to reduce unfairness, injustice and inequality in society.

Further, such conduct is contrary to ASPA’s Code of Ethics, which all members promise to support. Specifically, it violates the principles of promoting democratic participation; strengthening social equity; demonstrating personal integrity; and advancing professional excellence.

This Code of Conduct outlines the expectations by which all participants shall abide during the ASPA Annual Conference, conference-related activities, social events and other ASPA-sponsored events in which participants are gathered. It applies to all types of conference formats—that is, both in person and online. Participants include but are not limited to member and non-member attendees, speakers, public officials, staff, contractors, vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, awardees, guests and volunteers.

Expected Behavior

ASPA expects all participants to:

  • Present themselves, interact and communicate in a professional and constructive manner, whether in person or virtually.
  • Handle dissent or disagreement with courtesy, dignity and an open mind. Be respectful when providing written and verbal feedback.
  • Be sensitive to and respectful of cultural contexts that vary among regions within the United States and abroad, reflecting ASPA’s global membership and reach.
  • Wear their conference badge during all in-person, conference-related programming and present it upon request by staff or other event personnel.
  • Be honest and truthful about any questionable behavior they witness on the part of any meeting participant when reporting it to ASPA staff or leadership. Report behavior as soon as possible after witnessing it.
  • Adhere to, and comply with, all ASPA policies designed to ensure the health, safety and security of conference attendees. Recognizing the ramifications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASPA National Council in October 2021 approved a set of health and safety policies for the 2022 Annual Conference. By registering for the conference, attendees agree to abide by these policies. Failure to abide by those policies constitutes unacceptable behavior under this Code, which may result in consequences outlined in the following section. These policies are the following:
    • Vaccination Policy. ASPA expects all attendees to be vaccinated prior to the 2022 Annual Conference unless prohibited by law. Attendees are required to provide proof of full vaccination to complete their registration for—and receive access to—all conference events. Those eligible for a booster should receive one prior to March 17, 2022. U.S.-based attendees are required to be vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson); international attendees who have received alternate vaccines must follow U.S. government requirements regarding acceptable vaccines that allow their entry into the United States. Attendees are to provide proof of vaccination—specifically an image of a government-issued vaccination card or similar—in advance of the conference.

      Requests for exemption under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other applicable laws will be considered. In such cases, attendees must provide a negative PCR test, at their own cost, for each day that they attend the conference. They must provide ASPA staff a negative test result issued within the prior 24 hours; only upon doing so will they receive daily credentials for access. Those who are unvaccinated or do not provide a daily negative PCR test may not attend any portion of the Annual Conference.

      Attendees who did not submit proof of vaccination upon registering are to provide image of your vaccination card by March 10, 2022 or their registration will be cancelled. Those registering onsite must bring their vaccination card (or an image of it) with them to the conference. Registrations will not be processed and credentials to enter the conference will not be issued until proof of vaccination is demonstrated.

    • Mask Policy. All attendees are to be fully masked (masks covering the nose and mouth and properly fitted to the face) when not actively eating or drinking. Events held in outdoor areas are exempt from this policy. Speakers and presenters are permitted to remove their masks during their presentations and any Q&A portions of the event, but they are to replace their masks when not speaking. (“Q&A” should not be interpreted to include indoor networking time; masks should be worn at all times when attendees are indoors and are not actively eating or drinking.)

    • Social Distancing.  All attendees are encouraged to practice social distancing while indoors. ASPA will facilitate social distancing, as needed and appropriate throughout the event. In this regard, ASPA urges attendees to be respectful of their fellow attendees’ comfort level. They should be thoughtful about preferences for hugs, handshakes, elbow bumps or simple waves; leave seats open between each other where and as space allows; and accommodate colleagues’ personal space preferences.

Unacceptable Behavior

  • Harassment, intimidation or discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Harassment consists of a single or multiple persistent or pervasive acts that are demeaning, abusive, offensive or create a hostile professional environment. It may include unwelcome sexual solicitation, physical advances or verbal or non-verbal conduct that is sexual in nature; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; circulation of written or graphic material denigrating or showing hostility toward an individual or group; or epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping based on group identity. Harassment may take place either in person or through digital channels, including online conference platforms and social media outlets.
  • Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Behavior and language that are welcome or acceptable to one person or culture may be unwelcome and offensive to another. Examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, constitute sexual harassment include sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature, including sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; making unwelcome comments about someone’s physical appearance; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unwanted touching; and persistent and unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy. Sexual harassment may take place either in person or through digital channels, including online conference platforms and social media outlets.
  • Verbally or physically abusive behavior toward others during the ASPA conference will not be tolerated. This behavior includes bullying, profanity directed toward others, property damage, deliberate intimidation or stalking, harassing photography or recording (including screenshots), physical assault, and real or implied threat of physical harm.
  • Disruption of speakers, presenters or any individuals engaged in the public presentation of conference-related content, both in person and online. This includes video-teleconferencing hijacking, frequently referred to as “Zoom-bombing.”

Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior
  • Engaging in unacceptable behavior as described in this Code of Conduct may result in being asked to leave the event and/or being barred from future events, as well as having online access denied.
  • Anyone requested to cease unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. ASPA staff and contractors, hotel personnel or security may take any action deemed necessary and appropriate. If necessary, law enforcement will be engaged.
  • Infractions of the Code of Conduct on the part of ASPA members may be referred to the ASPA Executive Committee and/or the Ethics and Standards Implementation Committee for review and resolution. As stated in the bylaws, the National Council may terminate membership or impose other sanctions on members following investigation and recommendation by the Ethics and Standards Implementation Committee for a serious violation of the Society’s Code of Ethics. Infractions of this Code of Conduct may be interpreted to also violate several tenets of the Code of Ethics, including but not limited to promoting democratic participation, strengthening social equity, demonstrating personal integrity and advancing professional excellence. In order to be acted upon in a timely fashion, infractions must be reported within 90 days of the occurrence in order for a review to take place.

Reporting Unacceptable Behavior

The safety and security of our attendees is our most important priority. If you are the subject of unacceptable or inappropriate behavior at the conference, notice that someone else is being harassed or have any other concerns, please notify an ASPA staff member immediately. Among their responsibilities, they will assist in contacting hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the event. In the case of emergency, or if you cannot locate an ASPA staff member, please contact a hotel or venue staff member or security. We expect participants to be honest and truthful about any questionable behavior they witness on the part of any meeting participant when reporting it to ASPA staff or leadership. Please report behavior as soon as possible after experiencing or witnessing it so that ASPA can take prompt remedial action.

For in-person events, staff can be located at the event registration desk throughout operating hours, the ASPA membership booth, and in all plenary sessions, Presidential Panels and officially sponsored receptions. Staff wear badges with a visible Staff ribbon. You also may email [email protected] for assistance.

Please refrain from reporting unacceptable behavior through social media channels, as ASPA’s channels are not monitored 24/7 and your report may not be seen in a timely fashion.