Code of Conduct

The Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia (UVA) is committed to nurturing and sustaining a cooperative and supportive community in accordance with our Departmental Mission, Vision, and Values. In service to this commitment, we are dedicated to providing an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for all members of our Department regardless of race, color, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, veteran status, family medical or genetic information, other forms of gender-based discrimination, and sex (including pregnancy). All members of the Department should be familiar with and adhere to the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, especially Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment, Preventing and Addressing Retaliation (collectively, the PADHR Policies), and Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence (Sexual Misconduct Policy).

Our individual and collective success begins with our commitment to building a diverse, equitable, collaborative, and healthy environment for research, learning, and service. Therefore, in addition to University-level policies, all members of the Department of Environmental Sciences agree to the following practices:

Responsibility and respect. We accept accountability for our individual actions and treat other members of the Department with respect and fairness.

Integrity. We commit to the highest level of integrity in our research, teaching, service, outreach, and community relationship building.

Inclusivity. We proactively promote an inclusive and welcoming environment that supports and embraces scholars, students, and guests from all backgrounds.

Commitment to equitable practices. We acknowledge the histories of abuse and exploitation at the University of Virginia, within academia, in the generation of scientific knowledge, and between scientists and the communities in which they work; we commit to practices that work to eliminate rather than reinforce these inequities.

Collective care. We look out for the well-being and success of each other and the safety of the Departmental environment by intervening when we witness violations to the letter and spirit of this Code.

In addition, faculty, teaching assistants, and student mentors have a responsibility to provide supportive and constructive research, educational, and professional development experiences. Faculty, teaching assistants, and mentors commit to creating laboratory and field environments that set reasonable expectations, encourage intellectual risk-taking and self-reliance, provide growth-oriented feedback to facilitate student progress, prioritize advisees’ physical and mental health, and prevent harassment, bullying, and intimidation. Faculty and mentors should establish a culture of safety embodied by active safety planning, for example, through the provision of personal protective equipment, safety training, and emergency planning and protective supplies in the field or laboratory. Safety should be broadly interpreted to encompass not only physical safety, but also the social, cultural, and emotional safety of advisees. Faculty and mentors should be sensitive to the power dynamics of advisor-student relationships by not assigning duties outside of students’ academic and professional roles, by ensuring appropriate credit and co-authorship for student work, and by refraining from coercive or otherwise unwelcome personal interactions.

Finally, the Code of Conduct will be updated at a minimum every two years to adapt to and incorporate the evolving work of the Department, updates to University policies and reporting, and new resources for well-being and community building. This periodic review of the Code of Conduct will be led by the Department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.


Reporting at UVA is centralized, with the University providing four reporting resources: Just Report it, the Preventing and Addressing Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation (PADHR) Complaint Form, Respect@UVA, and Report a Barrier. University employees should familiarize themselves with their mandatory, non-anonymous reporting requirements under Sexual Misconduct Policy and the PADHR Policies. All tools can receive anonymous reports, with the exception of reports pertaining to potential violations of the Sexual Misconduct and PADHR Policies submitted by Responsible Employees (this designation covers all University employees, including faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate and undergraduate research and teaching assistants). These tools are summarized in detail by the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR), and briefly here. For questions regarding which tool to use, see the schematic below. Reports submitted using the wrong tool will be redirected by the receiver, so uncertainty as to which tool to select should not be a barrier to submission.

Just Report It supports the reporting of incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment and other forms of interpersonal violence; bias, discrimination, and harassment; hazing; Clery Act Compliance; interference with speech rights; youth protection; and preventing and addressing threats of acts of violence. The University defines bias “as a threat or act of harassment or intimidation, verbal, written or physical, which is personally directed against or targets a University of Virginia student because of that student’s age, color, disability, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status or family medical or genetic information.” No incident should be considered too small or insignificant to report, with behavior including, for example, but not limited to, offensive or inappropriate comments, humor based on lewd, obscene, racist, sexist, or ethnic stereotypes, and communications or workspaces containing inappropriate content or images all constituting a violation.

The EOCR’s PADHR (Preventing and Addressing Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation) Complaint Form is used to report or request resolution of complaints of discrimination and harassment on the basis of age, color, race, disability, marital status, national and ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, family medical or genetic information, as well as other forms of sex discrimination not covered by the Sexual Misconduct Policy, and retaliation.

Respect@UVA, provided by the UVA Human Resources, is specifically designed for the reporting of incidents and complaints of disrespectful workplace behavior and retaliation that may not constitute a violation of University policy but nonetheless perpetuate toxic, unsafe, and/or unsupportive work environments.

Report a Barrier supports reporting of accessibility barriers such as blocked access ramps, the need for curb cuts, inaccessible websites, inoperative elevators, and/or lack of access to events or programs.

The Department and University take all incident and complaint reports seriously, and all reports will be investigated by the receiver (determined by which tool was used for reporting). Specific processes for how reports are investigated, and their subsequent disciplinary actions, will depend on the nature of the incident/complaint. The EOCR provides a detailed outline of resolution options for violations of the PADHR Policies. Investigations into and consequences of Title IX violations are handled by the Title IX Office and described in detail here. Reports submitted through Respect@UVA will be handled by UVA Human Resources, who will work with the Department until the issue has been resolved.

Resources for Implementing the Code of Conduct

Laboratory safety inspections, consultations, and training materials are provided by UVA Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). In the case of life-threatening emergencies, including fires, explosions, serious injuries, and any other incidents posing immediate threats to life, health, or the environment, call 911. For assistance with chemical, biological, radiological, or other incidents not presenting an emergency, call 434.982.4911. Normal business hours of EHS are 8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday. After hours, a voice recording connects to the University Operator, who will notify the appropriate on-call EHS staff member.

The Department will periodically host bystander intervention training. Related online resources include offerings from ADVANCEGeo, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Hollaback!, some of which allow individuals to enroll independently.

LGBT Student Services offers workshops for employees and students committed to learning more about LGBTQ+ advocacy and experiences, in particular Safe Space Foundations, A Primer on Pronouns, and Trans*itioning.

The Center for Teaching Excellence UVA Acts program provides a variety of workshops for instructors to foster equitable and inclusive classroom experiences. There are resources and reading lists available to assist instructors as they diversify and decolonize their course curricula, including addressing issues of inequity and the so-called hidden curricula.

We encourage all classroom instructors to enable their course Collab anonymous reporting tool for their individual classes. These anonymous reports may cover any topic and are received only by the instructor. Because instructors are Responsible Employees, the instructor must submit a report if the received information is relevant to violations of the Sexual Misconduct and PADHR Policies.

Establishing clear expectations between research advisors and mentees can be achieved in part through the use of a mentorship contract. Prof. Lauren Simkins has drafted a mentorship contract template to provide guidance.

A field safety plan provides a mechanism to consider, assess, document, and communicate potential hazards, emergency procedures, and training. The faculty, mentor, and/or organizer for field research, field trips, and other field excursion should develop a plan to identify hazards, as well as precautions and actions taken to address and mitigate those hazards. The Department has prepared a safety plan template to provide guidance.

We understand that field research and class field trips can pose a significant financial barrier to student participation due to the costs of equipment (e.g., boots). We recommend faculty, mentors, and instructors include a syllabus statement making clear that students are encouraged to approach them for assistance if such barriers exist. Faculty who cannot meet these financial needs through available funds should speak with the Department Chair.

Additional Resources for Support, Well-Being, and Community Building

We encourage all members of our Department to prioritize their mental health and to develop positive and affirming support networks.

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is a student run organization in the Department that provides professional and personal support for graduate students, hosts community building events, serves as a resource for incoming graduate students, and is a collective voice for graduate students to the Department and University. Departmental graduate students who are experiencing unfair treatment as they proceed through their degree milestones can reach out to the Departmental Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), the Department Chair, and/or the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The DGS is a rotating position, currently held by Prof. Pat Wiberg. The Departmental Chair or Elizabeth Jackson can provide the name and contact information of the current DGS when a change is made. Each Ph.D. dissertation committee must include a Dean’s representative, who is a UVA faculty member outside of the Department and who is present to ensure fairness in the process.

The Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) is the University’s access agency for students with disabilities and will ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to Departmental and University learning, resources, and experiences. Members of SDAC will meet with students regarding disability accommodations and support services and act as a liaison between students with disabilities and other University offices, including Housing, Parking and Transportation, and the Registrar. Students are encouraged to reach out to SDAC even if not planning on using accommodations, as they can provide an overview of available services and resources

The EOCR provides a list of resources, both internal and external, for students and employees to help those experiencing discrimination and harassment. The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center also provides counselling for people of all genders.

For students, counselling and crisis management support are provided through the Student Health and Wellness Center Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Students can call 434.243.5150 to speak with an on-call counselor and/or schedule an appointment. Student life professionals assist students with counseling and adjustment issues, crisis intervention services, and adjudication options. To speak anonymously, you can call the Madison House HELP Line at any hour of any day: 434.295.TALK. Additionally, there is support outside of UVA and you can call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline (call 1.800.985.5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746) to connect with a trained crisis counselor. This service is toll free, multilingual, and confidential.

The Office of African American Affairs runs a series of programs to support Black students throughout their time at UVA. This includes: a Peer Advisor Program that pairs entering Black students with an undergraduate Peer Advisor to serve as a resource for the entire academic year, with the pairing made based on similar academic and extracurricular interests; the OAAA Mentoring Program that provides students with a broader network of support that includes administrators, faculty and staff outside of the classroom in culturally responsive mentoring program; the Gradstar program that supports students’ academic success; and Project RISE, serving students who experience issues related to academic, personal, and social circumstances. The programs also provide support and counselling on a range of topics.

The LGBTQ+ Support Group provides a confidential and safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender/gender non-conforming, queer, asexual, and intersex students to explore questions related to gender and sexuality, and also discuss issues related to societal and personal values, relationships, choices, self-esteem, and self-care. UVA LGBTQ Student Services provides an updated map of single-stall and gender-neutral bathroom options in Clark Hall (there are two), throughout the University, on the Corner, Downtown, and in other nearby areas in Charlottesville.

The Multicultural Student Services (MSS) provides support to historically underrepresented students through peer mentoring programs (Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi American Peer Advising Family Network, Hispanic–Latinx Peer Mentoring Program, Middle Eastern Mentoring Program), multicultural education/training, event planning academic success programs, and leadership development programs. The MSS also hosts the Multicultural Student Center, LGBTQ Center, Latinx Student Center, and Interfaith Student Center, all located in Newcomb Hall, designed to meet the needs of multicultural students to find community and belonging at UVA. These Centers offer meeting and program space for student groups, study space, and lounge areas that are open to everyone. Programs, resources, and events are also available from the Asian Student Union and Native American Student Union.

For faculty and staff, the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program provides short-term, focused, and confidential counseling free of charge.

For conflicts in which individuals do not wish to file a report, there is the option to work with the University Ombuds. The University Ombuds is an independent, confidential resource that provides services to faculty, staff, and students in resolving problems, complaints, and conflicts. The services of the Ombuds are independent of the University administration, confidential to the extent permitted by law, and the Ombuds is not a Responsible Employee.

Approved by the EVSC Faculty: April 21, 2021; Document Last updated: April 28, 2021