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SEM Statement on Review of Complaint Concerning 2017 Annual Meeting Video-Stream

Tuesday, February 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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On 02/08/18, the Society for Ethnomusicology posted to SEMNotices-L a statement of its handling of a complaint concerning the video-stream of a session at the 2017 Annual Meeting. This statement, copied below, provided an accurate summary of the review process for this complaint. Since a member of the Society has publicly questioned the statement, additional details are offered here:


Shortly after 11/13/17, the SEM Past President began a review of the video-stream in question. She subsequently conferred with the Executive Director concerning the contents of the video-stream and the complaint received. Their initial assessment was that comments made during the session raised ethical and potentially legal liability issues. Thus, they decided not to post the link at that time and to address the matter further as soon as work schedules permitted.


On 12/18/17, the Executive Director advised the President of the matter (the President had previously been detained by a major personal crisis). From this point, review of the complaint was handled by the President, Past President, and Executive Director collectively. This action by a subset of the SEM Board was in keeping with precedence for addressing issues of a sensitive/personal nature.


On 12/22/17, the Executive Director received an inquiry about the session from the session chair. He advised the chair that the SEM Board would respond concerning its decision on the matter.


The President, Past President and Executive Director continued their review of the complaint and eventually decided to post the link to the video-stream.


On 12/30/17 the Executive Director telephoned the individual who made the complaint and the individual who was the subject of the complaint. The purpose of these calls was to inform the individuals of the review process and to ask them if they had any concerns if SEM posted the link to the video-stream.


On 12/31/17 SEM posted the link to the session in the list of 2017 Annual Meeting video-streams.



The SEM President, Past President and Executive Director deeply regret and apologize for any uncertainty caused by its handling of this complaint. Throughout the review process, we attempted to address the matter in a fair and impartial manner, consistent with how we would treat a similar complaint from any SEM member or conference attendee. In retrospect, we wish we would have taken two additional steps:


1) Informed the Annual Meeting session chair sooner that we had received a complaint about the session and that we were carrying out a review on behalf of the SEM Board.


2) Retained legal counsel to assist us in evaluating the complaint and to facilitate a decision concerning posting a link to the video-stream.


The SEM Board will fully discuss this matter at its March 2018 meeting and will develop formal procedures for the submission and review of complaints that involve ethical and/or legal concerns. These procedures will be instituted in a manner that ensures prompt and transparent action from SEM in response to any future complaints received.


Gregory Barz, SEM President
Anne K. Rasmussen, SEM Past President
Stephen Stuempfle, SEM Executive Director




SEM Statement on Access to 2017 Annual Meeting Video-Streams (02/08/18)


Since 2011 the Society for Ethnomusicology has offered live and archived video-streams of sessions at its Annual Meeting, selected each year by the Program Committee. Following one of the sessions streamed at the 2017 Annual Meeting, an SEM Board member received a complaint from a Society member who stated that one of the presenters, in remarks offered, violated standards of professional conduct. This complaint was based on reports from individuals who attended the session.

SEM takes seriously its responsibility to its membership, especially concerning comments of a personal nature that are made in any of its channels of communication, including Annual Meeting video-streams. After receipt of the complaint, the Society removed the session information and link from its 2017 list of archived video-streams in order to begin a review of the remarks in question.

As is often the case with matters that are sensitive and/or urgent, the review process was carried out by a subset of the SEM Board (in this case the President and Past President) and the SEM Executive Director. Since the issue involved a complicated dispute between two members of the Society, the review required multiple considerations, including information concerning an institution outside the Society. Throughout the review process and at present, a primary goal has been to respect the privacy of the two individuals involved.

SEM completed its review on December 31, 2017, and, on this same date, added the session information and link to the 2017 list of video-streams, which provided immediate access to the video-recording. The decision to provide access to the video was based on the review committee’s deliberation and on communication with the two individuals.

SEM regrets any inconvenience caused while it worked to resolve this matter in a thorough and respectful manner.

Gregory Barz, SEM President
Anne K. Rasmussen, SEM Past President
Stephen Stuempfle, SEM Executive Director

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