Academy Board of Governors to Discuss New Code of Conduct

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Academy CEO Dawn Hudson

The organization is looking to develop a policy for "evaluating alleged violations and determining if action regarding membership is warranted."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is moving forward with its efforts to establish a new code of conduct for its members, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in an email sent Thursday to the organization's members.

"Like you," she wrote, "the Academy's Board of Governors is concerned about sexual harassment and predatory behavior in the workplace, especially in our own industry. We believe our Academy has a role to play in fostering a safe and respectful atmosphere for the professionals who make motion pictures. To this end, we are taking steps to establish a code of conduct for our members, which will include a policy for evaluating alleged violations and determining if action regarding membership is warranted."

Hudson promised that the board will take up the issue at its next scheduled meetings in December and January.

When the Academy's 54-member board met on Oct. 14 and voted to expel Harvey Weinstein in the wake of allegations accusing him of sexual harassment, abuse and rape, it said at the time that the 'board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify."

While the Academy's bylaws state that, with a two-thirds vote, the board of governors can eject a member "for cause," the Academy doesn't actually have any rules in place governing the behavior of its members beyond the regulations that it has set down for awards-season campaign practices. Weinstein became only the second person thrown out of the Academy in its 90-year history, the first being actor Carmine Caridi, who was booted for loaning awards-season screeners when films he had been sent turned up online.

In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, and as the issue of sexual harassment has taken on new urgency, there have been those who have questioned why other figures accused of similar offenses, such as Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby, have been allowed to remain Academy members.

Hudson's message acknowledges that drawing up a code of conduct for the voluntary organization is complicated, and she assured the membership that "we have no intention of functioning as an investigative body or moral court." Those words echoed a similar email Academy president John Bailey sent to members on Oct. 17, in which he wrote, "the Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court," while going on to say, "but we can be a part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers."

In order to draw up a new code of conduct, Hudson said that the Academy's membership and administrative committee is consulting with experts in law and ethics "to gain a better understanding of what more we can and should be doing." 

The full text of Hudson's email follows:

Dear Members,

Like you, the Academy's Board of Governors is concerned about sexual harassment and predatory behavior in the workplace, especially in our own industry. We believe our Academy has a role to play in fostering a safe and respectful atmosphere for the professionals who make motion pictures. To this end, we are taking steps to establish a code of conduct for our members, which will include a policy for evaluating alleged violations and determining if action regarding membership is warranted.

Through our Membership and Administration Committee, we are consulting experts in law and ethics to gain a better understanding of what more we can and should be doing. Although we have no intention of functioning as an investigative body or moral court, we do have a right and duty as a voluntary association to maintain clear standards of workplace behavior for those we accept as members.

The Board of Governors will take up this issue at its next scheduled meetings in December and January. We recognize this is a complex process that will take some time, but we are determined to move forward without delay.

Regards,

Dawn Hudson

Academy CEO

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