The Academy sets new 'code of conduct' amid harassment scandals

Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the Academy, but several members accused of sexual harassment - including Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey - are still members. But that might change soon.

                            The Academy sets new 'code of conduct' amid harassment scandals

In less than two months after The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Harvey Weinstein over accusations of sexual harassment, it has delivered on its promise to establish a new official 'code of conduct' which all its 8,427 members are expected to follow. Several members of the Academy posted screenshots of the memo on Twitter on Wednesday.

After a meeting of the board of governors on Tuesday night, the academy’s CEO, Dawn Hudson, sent an email to all the members of the Academy, elucidating the new standards of conduct, which he claims were carefully drafted by “professors of ethics, business, philosophy, and law […] as well as experts in human resources and sexual harassment.” 

"There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” says the introductory text to the new code of conduct. This is followed by a warning which reads, "If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion.”

The Academy's CEO Dawn Hudson (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)

The development comes just eight weeks after producer Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company fame was sacked from the Academy on October 14th, after which the Board of Governors of the Academy released a statement condemning “the conduct described in the allegations against Harvey Weinstein to be repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents.”

Producer Harvey Weinstein was dismissed from the Academy for sexual harassment on Oct 14th. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images For TWC)

The Academy had promised to act swiftly to establish a new ‘code of conduct’ and it has delivered on the promise promptly. Ever since Weinstein’s dismissal, he has become the spark that set off a barrage of harassment claims, leading to the #metoo movement, which has gained so much traction that even Time magazine named 'the silence breakers' of the movement as the person of the year for 2017.

In the wake of the moment, several individuals came out with allegations of sexual misconduct against a staggering number of people that seems to keep growing. Among those already accused are director Brett Ratner and James Toback and actors Jeffrey Tambor and Kevin Spacey.

While Weinstein is just the second person to be expelled from the Academy (the first for sexual harassment), the new code of conduct might be a sign of possibly soon-to-come action against others accused—such as Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Roman Polanski and Brett Ratner—who are currently still members of the Academy.

Members of the Academy who are accused of harassment but still continue to be a part of the Academy.
(L - R) Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Kevin Spacey. (Image source: Getty Images)

While the code of conduct doesn’t get too specific when it comes to the details, it requires members of the Academy to “behave ethically by upholding the academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion and a supportive environment that fosters creativity.” While this step doesn’t absolve all the already accused members of the Academy, it could very well be the first step in shaping a more stringent ethical code within the Academy.

“Much remains to be done,” Hudson wrote in the memo. “The task force will finalize procedures for handling allegations of misconduct, assuring that we can address them fairly and expeditiously. This process will ultimately guide the Board of Governors in assessing if certain allegations warrant action regarding membership. Those procedures will be sent to you in the new year,” the memo concluded.

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