The 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Political Methodology (SPM), PolMeth XXXV, will take place in Provo, Utah. The conference will be jointly sponsored by the Society for Political Methodology and Brigham Young University (BYU). Several members of the Society have expressed understandable concerns about BYU's Honor Code, which contains several restrictions that contradict the Society's values of openness and inclusiveness. In particular, BYU's Honor Code states that "Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code".
The Society for Political Methodology repudiates this statement and the intolerance it represents. As reflected in our newly adopted statement of diversity and inclusion, the Society welcomes all people, and does not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, racial or ethnic background, disability status, religious belief, age, gender, color, national origin, physical appearance, ancestry, or socio-economic background. The Society's partnership with BYU for the purposes of hosting the 2018 annual meeting in no way represents an endorsement of BYU's Honor Code, and the participation in PolMeth XXXV does not in any way require members to abide by or endorse this code. In response to the issues raised around our hosting institution for PolMeth 2018, we will require all future hosts to explicitly consent to our Society's values of diversity and inclusion, and to our Society's newly adopted code of conduct.
We reassure our members that PolMeth XXXV will be a welcoming, diverse, inclusive, and positive experience. BYU's Honor Code applies only to those who sign it: BYU students, BYU faculty, and BYU staff. The Honor Code does not apply to others. Benjamin Ogles, Dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at BYU, issued a statement for PolMeth XXXV that states: “We welcome LGBTQ scholars to PolMeth XXXV and the BYU Campus. Everyone should be treated with love, dignity, and respect.” Utah law includes protections for LGBTQ individuals in housing and employment--see http://www.lgbtmap.org. Graduate students and faculty attending PolMeth will be housed off campus, and those legal protections apply. In addition to housing attendees off campus, the meeting itself will be held off campus at the Provo Marriott, including all talks and academic events. We will also ensure we recommend bars and restaurants that openly support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.
Moreover, starting with PolMeth XXXV, the Society will implement the following policies for the summer meeting:
- The Society will require all conference participants to agree with a code of conduct that explicitly forbids discrimination of any kind in all events partially or fully sponsored by the Society for Political Methodology.
- The Society will establish ombudspeople who will be available during the meeting in case a member needs to discuss or report a hostile situation or interaction.
- The leadership of the Society---it’s officers and fellows---will take an active role in publicly establishing and validating these values of diversity and inclusion. The Society will start to publicly recognize and reward members who are positive role models during the meeting.
- The Society will take an active role in shaping the diversity of the meeting. This will include changes to the program to ensure diverse applications, assigned seating at the conference's main dinner, and small-group lunches or coffee hours organized around shared substantive interests.
We deeply regret that the Society's decision to host the summer meeting at BYU caused these concerns among its members. We are confident that the measures we have taken will ensure that all our future meetings and this year’s meeting at BYU adhere to the Society's values of diversity and inclusion.
We thank the BYU Political Science department for hosting our 2018 conference, and we hope you will join us in making this a welcoming and successful meeting, reflective of all the strengths and diversities our society has to offer.
Kosuke Imai, President
Suzanna Linn, Vice-President and President-elect
Rocío Titiunik, Member-at-Large, Chair of the Diversity Committee