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Code of Conduct

ARO MidWinter Meeting attendees must attest to and agree to follow the Code of Conduct below:


1. Code of Conduct

The Association for Research in Otolaryngology (“ARO”) is dedicated to providing a safe and productive experience for all participants and attendees at all official ARO events regardless of sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, perceived disability, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal or pertinent state laws.  ARO does not tolerate discrimination or any form of harassment and is committed to enforcing this Code of Conduct (the “Code”) at its MidWinter Meeting or at any other ARO event.  As a professional society, ARO is committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific and educational ideas.  Furthermore, ARO upholds the philosophy of equal opportunity for and treatment of all meeting participants and staff in any venue.

2.   Scope of Code
ARO requires compliance with the Code by all meeting participants, staff, guests, and vendors at all official ARO events, including the annual meeting, committee meetings or other activities that are expressly sponsored or promoted by ARO, whether held in public or private facilities. This policy is an expression of ARO’s values and commitment to a safe and productive experience for all participants and attendees at its official events.  This policy is not an acknowledgement, admission, or description of ARO’s legal obligations with respect to any of the subject matters addressed herein, nor does it create any such legal obligations.

3.   Harassment Defined
Harassment includes verbal, physical, and visual conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment.  Harassing conduct can take many forms and includes, but is not limited to, the following:  slurs, epithets, derogatory comments, insults, degrading or obscene words, jokes, demeaning statements, offensive gestures, or displaying derogatory or demeaning pictures, drawings, or cartoons based upon an individual’s sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age, physical  or mental disability, perceived disability, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal or pertinent state laws or local ordinances.

Sexually harassing conduct in particular includes all of these prohibited actions, as well as other unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature, such as unwanted sexual advances; lewd propositions or innuendos; leering; making sexual gestures; making sexually suggestive or graphic comments or engaging in inappropriate sexually-oriented conversation; displaying sexually suggestive objects, graphics, pictures, or posters, whether physically  or over the Internet; making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or jokes; the sexual touching or display of one’s own body; or unwanted physical touching or assault, as well as impeding or blocking movements.

Sexually harassing conduct can be by a person of either the same or opposite sex.  It is a violation of this policy for males to sexually harass females or other males, and for females to sexually harass males or other females.  Conduct that begins as consensual in nature may become harassment if one party withdraws his or her consent.  Sexual or other harassment prohibited by this policy is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

The above list of prohibited behaviors is not a complete rendering of what may be deemed sexual or other harassment prohibited by this policy.  It is impossible to define every action or word that could be interpreted as harassment.  However, ARO has a “zero tolerance” policy toward discrimination and all forms of harassment.  ARO reserves the right to discipline meeting participants who engage in any inappropriate conduct, even if it is not specifically referred to or defined in this Code or is not legally actionable as sexual or any other form of harassment.

4.   Prohibited Conduct
Prohibited conduct at ARO meetings includes, but is not limited to:

  1. harassment based on sex, race, color, personal appearance, national origin, religion, age, physical disability, mental disability, perceived disability, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal or pertinent state laws;
  2. demeaning comments or harassment about a person’s professional status, qualifications, or affiliations;
  3. sexual harassment, as defined in Section 3;
  4. abusive conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with another person’s ability to benefit from and enjoy or participate in the meeting, including social events related to the meeting and sponsored by ARO;
  5. undue or excessive interruption of any event, speaker, or session; and
  6. violence or threats of violence.

5.   Reporting an Incident
Meeting participants or other individuals who witness or experience inappropriate conduct at an ARO meeting or other official ARO event, including but not limited to the prohibited conduct described above, should report such conduct immediately to the Executive Director of ARO, Allison Jevens at  or (615) 432-0100.  If the individual is uncomfortable reporting the conduct to the Executive Director of ARO for any reason, the individual may report the conduct to the President & CEO of Parthenon Management Group, Sarah Timm at or (615) 324-2374.  Any individual reporting such conduct is not required or expected to discuss the concern with the alleged offender. Anyone experiencing or witnessing behavior at an ARO event that is an immediate or serious threat to the safety of those present, or to the public, is advised to locate a house phone and ask for security, or to otherwise contact the authorities for protection.

ARO cannot address claimed inappropriate conduct or harassment unless the claims are brought to the attention of ARO leadership.  Meeting participants are encouraged to report any incidents of perceived violations of this policy as quickly as they can or otherwise feel safe doing.

ARO is committed to taking reasonable steps to prevent harassment and other prohibited conduct at its meetings and will make reasonable efforts to promptly and completely address and correct any prohibited conduct that may occur at an official ARO event.  ARO will keep any investigation of an alleged violation of this policy as confidential as possible.
ARO can only investigate situations that arise at ARO meetings or other ARO-sponsored events.  If a meeting participant experiences inappropriate conduct or harassment at the participant’s own or another institution, at a place of work, at a research facility, or online but not via ARO-sponsored channels that individual should contact the appropriate person or department responsible for such things at that particular institution, facility or medium.

6.   Investigation
ARO will promptly and impartially investigate the facts and circumstances of any claim of inappropriate conduct or harassment under this policy.  ARO will make every effort to keep the reporting individual’s concerns confidential and will not deliberately share personal information, other than as necessary to carry out the purpose of investigation. While complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, ARO will keep the investigation and its findings as confidential as possible under the circumstances. During an investigation, ARO or a designated independent consultant subject to obligations of confidentiality, generally will do the following (as necessary) to make a determination as to appropriate action:

  • document the nature of the complaint;
  • interview the complainant;
  • conduct further interviews as necessary, such as with witnesses and, at an appropriate time, the alleged offender;
  • document ARO’s findings regarding the complaint;
  • document recommended follow-up actions and remedies, if warranted; and
  • inform the complainant of the basic nature of ARO’s findings.

ARO will attempt to investigate any complaint or report of a violation of this policy in a prompt and timely manner.  Upon completion of the investigation, ARO will take appropriate corrective measures against any person who has engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy, if ARO determines such measures are necessary.  Such remedial action may include, but is not limited to, the items listed below in Section 7.

7.   Disciplinary Action
If ARO determines that an individual has engaged in prohibited conduct, ARO shall determine the appropriate action to be taken, which may include, but is not limited to:

  • private reprimand;
  • removal from the Meeting without warning or refund;
  • implementation of conditions upon attendance at future ARO Meetings;
  • restriction from attendance at future ARO Meetings; or
  • expulsion from ARO.

ARO may, but is not required to, report any incident to proper authorities, including but not limited to law enforcement.  ARO will do so if, in its sole discretion, such reporting is advisable or necessary.  If ARO determines that an individual has engaged in prohibited conduct at an ARO meeting, and such individual is an ARO member, ARO may take disciplinary measures by removing such individual from ARO membership.  Nothing in this policy shall restrict or discourage any individual who experiences or is the target of conduct prohibited by this policy from reporting such conduct to the authorities, to the extent he or she deems such a report advisable or necessary.

8.   Retaliation Is Not Tolerated
Retaliation for complaints of inappropriate conduct or harassment are also considered harassment and will not be tolerated.  Retaliatory behavior in connection with ARO meetings will be investigated in a similar manner to initial complaints.

9. Photographing and/or Recording Presentations During the Mid-winter Meeting 
Photographing or recording material presented in a podium session, symposium or poster session is only allowed for the purposes of increased comprehension by meeting attendees who may have difficulty understanding the speaker during the initial presentation.  Any distribution or reproduction of imagery created during any scientific presentation at the ARO Mid-winter Meeting, without the consent of the presenter, is prohibited and represents a violation of ARO’s expectation of ethical conduct.  Photographing a speaker before, during or after a session is not allowed without explicit permission from the speaker.

Acceptable Use of Social Media - ARO encourages the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and blogging sites to engage our community in the Mid-winter Meeting.  We encourage attendees to post or tweet highlights about the meeting, discuss outstanding speakers, panels and posters and offer recommendations on which panels and posters to attend. If you wish to post a photograph of a speaker in the context of their presentation, please obtain their permission. 

When sharing information, we request you refrain from including photographed or recorded material or paraphrased content presented in a scientific presentation. Data shared at ARO belongs to the presenter and should not be shared on social media by a meeting participant.  Tweeting/posting unpublished data from another lab represents a violation of ARO’s expectation of ethical conduct and would discourage members from presenting unpublished work.