Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct
DRAFT Minutes, August 11, 2009
SAA Annual Meeting, Austin, TX
Agenda, 1 pm – 5 pm
1. Introduction of current and new members of CEPC
2. Approval of minutes, August 2008 meeting (see attached file)
3. Report of CEPC chair
a. Anthony Clark controversy
b. Amendment to CEPC charge (see attached file, "Comments on Code of Ethics Enforcement")
c. SAA Values Task Force
d. Memory for Justice and Archival Ethics proposed sessions (see attached file, "CEPC Annual Report 2008")
e. Elena Danielson book on archival ethics
4. Discussion of plans to review and revise the SAA code of Ethics
a. Supporting documents:
1. Memo comparing 1992 and 2005 ethics codes (Supple and Pyatt, Nov. 2007; see file, "CEPC Ethics Code Comparison Memo")
2. Outgoing chair's recommendations (see attached file, "Comments on the SAA Code of Ethics 2009")
5. New business
a. Session Proposals for 2010 SAA Annual Meeting -- suggestions and discussion
b. Other new business
1. Introduction of new members
Elena Danielson (incoming member)
Tiffany Schureman (intern)
Tim Pyatt (incoming chair)
Tom Hyry (Council liaison)
Rand Jimerson (outgoing chair and member)
Jean Green (member)
CEPC members unable to attend:
Shannon Supple (outgoing member)
Robert Leopold (member)
Clare Flemming (member)
Shawn San Roman (member)
Nancy Shrader (member)
Also attending (for portions of the meeting):
Rene Mueller (SAA staff member)
Nancy Beaumont (SAA Executive Director)
2. Approval of minutes
3. Report of CEPC Chair
a. Anthony Clark controversy
Rand Jimerson spoke about the controversy in which Anthony Clark [AC] claimed he had been denied access to NARA records [specifically record group 64], which became a public controversy in part because of Richard Cox’s [RC] treatment of the issue. The controversy was addressed by SAA Council and was going to be referred to CEPC. However Council concluded that having this committee respond to such complaints should not be part CEPC’s charge.
Council liaison, Tom Hyry, commented that people are frustrated with Code of Ethics because it is aspirational and if people violate it, there is really nothing we can do to enforce it. SAA is not set up to legally or administratively enforce a code of ethics. AC & RC complained and RC was harsh in criticism of SAA. The controversy led Council into a discussion of revising the code. They have also heard that some people members prefer the previous version. Council has charged CEPC to work on a plan to revise the Code. [this follows CEPC’s recommendation from last year that the Code be revised.]
Rand Jimerson spoke about the controversy in which Anthony Clark [AC] claimed he had been denied access to NARA records [specifically record group 64], which became a public controversy in part because of Richard Cox’s [RC] treatment of the issue. The controversy was addressed by SAA president Frank Boles and discussed by SAA Council, which considered whether CEPC should have a role in such matters. However Council concluded that having this committee respond to such complaints should not be part CEPC’s charge.
Council liaison, Tom Hyry, commented that issues some members have with the code of ethics were raised during discussions of the Clark controversy. Some people are frustrated with Code of Ethics because it is aspirational and if people violate it, there is really nothing we can do to enforce it. However, even if it were deemed an idea the organization should pursue, SAA is not set up to legally or administratively enforce the code of ethics. Following this logic, Council passed a resolution in May to change CEPC’s charge, to clarify its role (see b. below).
Discussions of the controversy did lead Council to take the proposed revision of the Code of Ethics even more seriously and has charged CEPC to go ahead with planning this effort.
b. Amendment to charge
Council has formally amended CEPC’s charge to remove “responding to complaints to SAA alleging violation of the Code of Ethics.” Rand’s May 29, 2009 response to SAA President Frank Boles further explains this change [see documents distributed with the meeting agenda]. SAA does not have the resources, legal or financial, to have an enforcement mechanism. Elena Danielson commented that public statements of policy are very effective. Rand agreed that should an approach is a way of responding without having direct criticism.
c. SAA values task force
The SAA Value Task Force was approved by Council. They were to meeting late morning on Wednesday as to how to proceed. The Task Force includes Rand, Shawn San Roman (also a CEPC member), Rebekah Kim, Tamar Evangelista Dougherty, Rosalye Settles, and Frank Boles. Rand sees some overlap between values and ethics. Tim and Rand agreed to share information back and forth between the Values Task Force and CEPC.
d. Memory for Justice and Archival Ethics
Rand stressed the importance of the question of archival ethics and social justice together for discussion. It is an issue that more people want to hear about. Unfortunately, his session proposal turned down and the forum not approved for this meeting. Tom commented that this went down 8-2 in council. There wasn’t room on the schedule and they were worried about this as a trend. Other groups are increasingly asking for these types of meetings. Council agrees it is important, but could not find a spot for it.
Rand commented that this makes two years in a row session proposals have been turned down. This seems that this is an issue where there are enough people concerned with these issues and should be brought to the forefront.
Tom further elaborated on the discussion in Council that this type of programming is setting the precedent that people may be uncomfortable with. For example, in the case of Native American Protocols, SAA did not adopt it as a standard – they approved three forums so the membership to know it was important and needed dialogue. A Task Force on Cultural Property is being formed.
Rand expressed disappointment in decision. He is concerned that this should be discussed every year. It is difficult to convince a new program committee every year that this is important. The Issues & Advocacy Round Table could be an appropriate venue for discussion. Rand asked if folks wanted this recommendation as part of the report to Council. Tim suggested that it might be a future session proposal.
e. Elena Danielson book on archival ethics
Elena wanted to read Rand’s new book before completing her manuscript. She commented that it has been so interesting to read up on archival ethics and has written 200 pages, including a chapter on forgery and authentication as well as more on displaced cultural property. However, the book will not be finished this year.
4. Revision of Code of Ethics
Council would like CEPC to propose a revision to the Code and recommend the process of how to do it. It will be difficult to come up with a code that everyone would agree upon, especially since certain elements of the former code cannot be included due to concerns raised by SAA’s legal counsel [see Supple/Pyatt 2007 analysis of previous and current versions of the Code for more detail].
Deadline? Tim asked if Council had suggested any sort of timeline. Incoming SAA President Peter Gottlieb had expressed the desire for the revision to be ready by the 2010 meeting in DC in an email to Tim. Tom commented that he didn’t think having it done in a year was realistic and would rather have it done right than done quickly. He suggested the committee create a report on how CEPC would like to proceed and include a timeline. The report should be ready in time to be place on the January Council meeting agenda [DEADLINE DECEMBER 20]. Tom later commented that he thinks a revised code in 2011 is acceptable and will report this back to Council.
Mid-year meeting? Tim asked about the possibility of a mid-year meeting. Tom said probably not, while the SAA budget is stable, this year’s budget is already set and it not the best fiscal environment to request an unbudgeted mid-year meeting. Tim commented that ethics revision is a difficult email discussion and that a face-to-face meeting would be more productive and probably the only way to have a revision ready by the 2010 meeting. Tom said that he would take this back to Peter Gottlieb and Nancy Beaumont. Council may need to reconsider the proposed 2010 deadline (as he recommended above).
How to begin the conversation? Assuming a 2011 deadline, Tim suggested we start talking about it at the DC meeting to gather concerns and comments. The committee could conduct an “environmental scan” and try to get something on the program for next year to raise awareness (see New Business). CEPC members could also request a moment on the agendas of relevant RTs and sections to solicit comment. Rand suggested we start this at this meeting. He would raise the Code revision at the Issues & Advocacy RT. Elena suggested a possible open forum in DC?
Lending continuity to the conversation: Rand felt that Tim as incoming Chair would lend continuity. Rand’s book has taken up a lot of time. The conclusion of book is called re-thinking archival ethics and he thought it would be unseemly for him to lead the discussion. Rand is also sure that Elena would have some ideas and thoughts, too.
What would a revised code look like? What process would best achieve that revision? Elena commented that most important thing was disconnecting code from an enforcement procedure. Now the code can be much stronger/more specific. Tim suggested we look at Rand’s recommendations [agenda attachment], look for things that are missing in the code, and look for things that are there and should be removed.
Elena commented that it might be helpful to see a wiki/library of cases/decisions to refer to [e.g., international conventions] including justification and source material separate from code. Tim agreed that related readings to allow people to dig deeper. Tom also agreed that he would like such a resource page of professional wisdom on topic.
Important points: Rand commented that the code is not meant to be legally restraining. Tim agreed that the old code left a lot to interpretation and that everything related to law should not be in code. Tim suggested that there needs to be something about disclosure in there. Elena pondered the issue of how to deal with the unbiased, neutrality issue [cited internal records from cigarette company and archives]. Tim also mentioned authenticity issues – with the internet there is an ease of manipulation – we need to look beyond the paper-based record – public needs to understand level of trust that involved with records. Tom commented that transparency is valued. Elena suggested that social justice needs to be in there and would like to fold in “for the benefit of the society as a whole.” Keeping the public faith in mind - Rand stressed that voices that have been marginalized or excluded need to be heard, fair and balanced archives. Tim also suggested looking closer at the role of a privacy statement in the code. Rand said we may want to include access and privacy rights [Tom suggested that some corporate archivists may push back on this – the goal is access but there may be restrictions]. Other points of discussionwhistle-blower protection legislation, working with dealers and personally collecting, accepting gifts.
Intelligible to the general public: Rand advised CEPC to keep in mind that the broader public would be looking at the code, not just archivists.
Future action: Tim would like to see an outline of existing code – what needs to be added, what needs to be eliminated -- drafted before the DC meeting. He hopes to then get more input from committee members who are not present. Many suggested looking at other codes [e.g. Chicago Institute of Technology, ALA RBMS, Canadian Archivists, ICA]. Rand said CEPC should keep in mind what is in code now and what was there before – we don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we need to create a code that outlines principles that we want to uphold. Rand commented that the value statement should be driving our ethics code – they stand parallel and need to be cross-referenced [reference to Greene’s speech from SAA 2008 and his list of values]. Tim stressed a focus on desired results, expected outcomes. Tim also suggested setting aside time for the Value Task Force and CEPC to meet in DC. Tom advised we go ahead with revising the code, and use the 2010 CEPC meeting to do some real writing. A draft to council, and then on to membership for public comment, would be the process. Nancy Beaumont (who attended a portion of the meeting) and Tom warned CEPC to prepare ourselves for high-quality, but low numbers of feedback.
5. New Business
a. Session proposals for the 2010 SAA Annual Meeting
1. Elena – “History of Code of Ethics panel” – case studies for the whistle-blower controversy
Tim - bring up events that have brought the code of ethics into play
Rand – something out of Elena’s book? Have her on the panel
**** Elena will develop this
2. Elena – “Papers of Prisoners of Conscience” “Archives and Social Justice” “Outsider Archives” [eg Nelson Mandala archives] – 3 case studies where human rights and social justice are built into the study
Tim – e.g., Ted Kasinsky archives; Rand – e.g., war orphans of Norway
**** Rand will begin developing this
3. Elena – “Authenticity and Forgery” Cuneiform tablets that were forged, Lincoln forgeries, electronic forgeries, report from Iron Mt. that is a forgery, Quigley’s book
****Jean and Tim will begin developing