Code of Conduct

Department of Physics faculty, staff, students and visitors have the right to conduct their academic, scientific and professional work free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Each member of the Department of Physics community is responsible for maintaining a work environment where everyone feels respected and included.

Expected Behavior

Faculty, staff, students, and visitors are responsible for appropriate professional conduct and behavior, and for cooperating in the enforcement of University policy. Consequently, collectively and individually, each of us will: 

  • treat each other with respect, civility, dignity, collegiality and professionalism;

  • be considerate of others’ values, beliefs, cultural norms, lifestyles, dress, personal identity, ability, limitations, and boundaries, including those that may be different from our own;

  • exhibit honesty and integrity in our academic, research and professional duties;

  • respect others’ property, work environment, and personal spaces, treating them as we would have others treat our own; and

  • take action to protect and support anyone in danger or distress.

Further, faculty and advisors have a special responsibility to foster the research, educational, and professional development of students. Faculty and advisors must take students' physical and mental well-being into account when setting expectations for academic and research performance and productivity. 

These expectations for behavior apply to people of all ranks and towards people of all ranks. The expectations apply to communications and interactions through any medium, whether verbal, physical, or written.

Unacceptable Behavior

Department of Physics faculty, staff, students and visitors should familiarize themselves with the University’s policies on conduct, especially 

  • HRM-009 Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment (PADH), 

  • HRM-041 Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence, and 

  • HRM-010 Preventing and Addressing Retaliation (PAR). 

These policies provide details on the University’s definition of Prohibited Conduct, resources for victims and reporting options, procedures, prevention and awareness programs, and training resources.

However, there are other types of behavior that do not necessarily rise to the level of the University’s definition of Prohibited Conduct but nevertheless contribute to a hostile or unwelcoming environment.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of such unacceptable behavior:

  • Exclusionary behavior, of any form, based on age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, or family and genetic information.

  • Harassment, intimidation, or coercion in any form including micro-aggressions: verbal, behavioral or situational indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward others.

  • Any form of violence, including physical or sexual misconduct, abuse, or assault.

  • Hate speech, including racial, ethnic, sexual or religious epithets and slurs.

  • Disparaging, denigrating or belittling comments, either posed to or about others, directly or indirectly. 

  • Unwelcome physical contact, sexual advances or personal remarks.

  • Inappropriate display of nudity, sexual images, or sexual innuendo.

  • Threatening or stalking behavior, either in person or online.

  • Retaliation of any kind.

Note: Unacceptable behavior is not always intentional. This should be kept in mind in all our interactions. Also, in some cases, behavior that would not rise to the level of harassment in a single case can become harassment through repetition.

What to Do

Tell someone: If you experience unacceptable behavior, you are not alone. There are several options for reporting or seeking support:

  • Seek assistance from a member of the Department: Anyone with a concern, even a small one, is encouraged to contact the Department Chair, the Department Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DDEI),  or one of the Department Allies listed below:

  • Just Report It: Just Report It (JRI) is the University's online system for reporting Prohibited Conduct and many types of unacceptable behavior. Go to justreportit.virginia.edu. Note that any report you make through JRI is not anonymous -- the system will identify you as the reporter. 

  • Confidential Resources: If you wish to discuss a concern or incident without reporting to the University at this time, consult this list of Confidential Resources. Information you share with Confidential Resources will not be disclosed to University officials or any other person except in extremely limited circumstances.

  • If you are a member of the Physics Department community and have been the subject of unacceptable conduct outside of the Department, you are encouraged to come forward, regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to Physics. We will try to help in all circumstances.

  • Be aware that all UVA faculty and staff are required to report knowledge of Title IX violations (sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault) and PADHR violations (Preventing and Addressing Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation) to the University. If you prefer that your complaint not be reported to the University consult a Confidential Resource.

Imminent danger: If you feel you are in imminent danger, dial 911 from any phone and report your name and location.

What Will Happen

  • All concerns and reports will be taken seriously. 

  • The Department Chair, DDEI, or  Department Ally will support you and help deal with your concern.

  • The Department Chair, DDEI, or Department Ally will help to manage or mediate a resolution if you request it, perhaps working with other responsible units within the University.

  • With your consent, Department Allies will report the incident to the Department Chair and/or DDEI.

  • The Department Chair, DDEI, or Department Ally  will, to the extent possible, protect the privacy of individuals and the confidentiality of information related to allegations of unacceptable behavior. Information about concerns and reports will be provided only as required by law or in limited circumstances to those who have a need to know to safely carry out their responsibilities.

  • Please keep in mind that in cases where the reported actions rise to the level of Prohibited Conduct, mandatory reporting will occur as required by the University, even if doing so is contrary to the complainant’s wishes.  


This is a living document. Comments can be sent at any time to the DDEI. The DDEI and DEI Committee will review this document every academic year and revise as necessary to ensure that it speaks to our shared values. Proposed changes to this document from this yearly review process will be presented to the department community for comment. Last update: 17 April 2021
References: Inspiration and some content for this Code of Conduct came from similar documents in the UVA Astronomy and UVA Biology departments, the University's Notice of Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity, & Diversity, and the APS DNP Allies program