IASPM Responses to the Current Situation in the Assocation

Dear IASPM Members,             

As many of you know, extremely serious allegations regarding sexual misconduct by IASPM members at IASPM conferences were disclosed last week on IASPM’s Facebook page. As an executive committee, we take the allegations raised extremely seriously. We do not tolerate any type of violence, (gender, class, race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc), and that we are committed to creating a space free of violence of any kind.

A post was published on Facebook, followed by series of comments, which I took down, acting as a page moderator/admin. I’d like to apologise to IASPM members for taking down the post, in hindsight there should have been consultation between all Facebook admins and within the Executive Committee (EC) as to what action to take, which I think would have led to a different response. 

As an executive committee, we take the allegations raised extremely seriously, and want to outline some of the activities we have been engaged in as a response. We are seeking a specialist consultant to undertake an ethics/disciplinary report into the allegations that have been made, and to advise us on best practice in how we address any future complaints. The report will allow us to take  actions within our organization. An EC member is reaching out to the original poster to offer support, and we have consulted with the IASPM Facebook page administrators regarding how such disclosures should be dealt with in the future. 

We are meeting with IASPM Branch Chairs this week to answer questions, gauge their opinions, and invite their suggestions on the way forward, including utilisation of the expertise available within and beyond the association. We are considering what needs to be done before any future IASPM Conference happens, internationally or in a branch, and have communicated with conference organisers. We have considered our own communication systems, and how to deal with urgent situations in future. We have responded to a large number of communications from IASPM members and non-members, through email and social media. We are consulting with a specialist lawyer to understand what our legal position is in regard to the original post, to similar situations in the future, and to legal representations already received.   

We have drafted a complaints policy, but this will need considerable further discussion, we are seeking feedback to ensure that it is effective and appropriate for IASPM; we want to set up a formal IASPM complaints procedure as a matter of urgency. We are seeking to create a policy to address sanctions on members introduced as a result of complaints made. 

We are developing guidance for admins on how and when to moderate on IASPM social media channels. If any disclosures or issues arise prior to the completion of this work, we suggest that a member of the EC be contacted directly through the email addresses available at https://www.iaspm.net/executive-committee/. We are exploring options for a range of training for both IASPM Executive Committee members, and Social Media moderators.

We will be writing a Code of Ethics for IASPM, which will state that we require our members to follow the highest standards in professional conduct. The content of this Code will be guided by the specialist consultant we are seeking to employ (as above), as well as by input from IASPM members and branches. We will also consult existing ethics codes, some of which have been usefully suggested on the IASPM Facebook page.    

We intend to set up a number of working parties to ensure these actions are all carried out expediently, with specific objectives and set deadlines. We also intend to establish more long-term explorations into these issues, some of which go far deeper than those things we can immediately address with short term actions. We are discussing a series of IASPM Research Seminars addressing the issues raised, which could include but are not restricted to: sexual conduct or sexual violence within the music industry and academia; approaches to providing support to survivors; social media activism; ethics; safe spaces and music events; MeToo and music.  

We have a conference in the summer and a key concern of ours is that IASPM events in future show the highest standards in terms of being safe spaces. 

We have posted the current IASPM Diversity Statement at https://www.iaspm.net/diversity-statement/, and will be developing it in line with the discussion and consultation processes noted above. 

We posted an official statement regarding the allegations that have been made at https://www.facebook.com/groups/6130905837/permalink/10158825594445838. If you have been affected by any of the issues related to sexual violence raised recently on the IASPM Facebook page, we have posted details of organisations that offer advice and support at https://www.facebook.com/groups/6130905837/permalink/10158825601385838 

We welcome expressions of interest from any IASPM member wishing to be involved in the working parties noted above, or suggestions for any other actions we should be taking. IASPM members can contact any member of the International Executive Committee to ask questions or express concerns about any of this, or if they want to offer to help guide these processes. EC email addresses are available at https://www.iaspm.net/executive-committee/. You can also contact Branch executive committees by contacting the branches listed at https://www.iaspm.net/how-to-join/

Further responses will follow as we gather more information and speak to our branch representatives and membership. This message was sent to branch chairs before a meeting with them on Friday, and it was felt should wait until after that meeting to be sent to our membership.

Many thanks  

Rupert Till 

Chair of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music