NSS Be Nice Policy - (From Geary Schindel - Jan 2019 NSS News, p.30)


I wanted to let you know of some of the recent actions by the Board of Governors at the November board meeting. You can read the full minutes of the meeting on the NSS web page.


The two most important issues the board dealt with is an Anti-Harassment Policy and changes to the Bylaws related to Discipline of Members. The NSS officers and Board members have received some complaints about the conduct of a limited number of members during NSS events. In review of our policies, we did not have anything in place that stated the position of the NSS regarding harassment of members. In addition, we also had very limited provisions in our bylaws to discipline members that may have not been upholding the tenets of the NSS. The board has addressed both of these issues and will be bringing a proposed “Code of Conduct” forward for consideration at the Spring 2019 BOG meeting.


The Anti-Harassment policy as passed by the Board of Directors reads as follows:

• This Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all events sanctioned by the National Speleological Society. Internal organizations within the Society are independent organizations and may create their own policies. To remain compliant with the NSS Charter, they must also have in place an Anti-Harassment Policy, or agree to implement the NSS policy, or risk loss of association with the NSS.

• The National Speleological Society is dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free environment for our members and attendees at our events, on social media, and within our organization. We will not tolerate harassment in any form. Any attendee that violates this policy will be told to leave the event and may be subject to further disciplinary action at the discretion of the NSS Board of Governors, pursuant to Bylaw XI. B. Discipline of Members.

• Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate comments, inappropriate sexual behavior that warrants intervention, unwanted advances and touching, invasion of personal space in a sexual manner, deliberate intimidation, and unwelcomed sexual advances. In addition, harassment includes unwanted verbal, physical, cyber, or aggressive behavior. If an incident of harassment is reported, the event staff, volunteers, or NSS representatives will take corrective action against any offenders at the time of the incident, ranging from verbal warnings to expulsion from the area and/ or event and a referral of the offender to the NSS Board of Governors for consideration of discipline from the Society.

• We value all of our members and attendees that come to caving events and want to ensure that safety and well-being of all participants is a top priority. Any person being harassed or witnessing another person being harassed should contact a staff member immediately. We will make every effort to assist and provide protection for our members and attendees.


Complaints about harassment may be directed, in confidence, to the NSS President at president@caves.org. I’ve created an ad hoc committee composed of a lawyer and a retired Assistant Police Chief to investigate reports of harassment with findings to be reported to the NSS Board of Governors for consideration.


Discipline of Members The new NSS bylaws related to Discipline of Members was amended by the board at the November BOG meeting as follows:

• A. A member not exempt from paying dues shall be automatically dropped for failure to pay.

• B. By a two-thirds vote, the Board of Governors may expel or discipline a member for disregard of accepted safety or conservation practice or the rights of a cave owner or for other conduct detrimental to the Society. A member subject to expulsion is entitled to a private hearing before the Board.

• C. Members may be disciplined by the Board of Governors by measures short of expulsion. Other disciplinary measures include but are not limited to censure, suspension, restriction of privileges including attendance at certain activities, and revocation of awards.

• D. Disciplinary procedures including hearings shall be carried out as described in the most recent edition of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, Chapter XX. The Board shall ensure that the Accused is informed of all rights and procedures.

The modification of the Bylaws for member discipline allows the board more latitude in dealing with discipline issues.