CSTE Meetings and Events Code of Conduct

As of June 1, 2023 

CSTE Values: Commitment to Service, Teamwork and Excellence through integrity and respect for all

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) is a member-based organization that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes providing a safe, welcoming, and productive environment that fosters open dialogue and expression of ideas, free of harassment, discrimination, and hostile conduct at CSTE meetings and events, whether held in-person or in virtual format. We have a shared responsibility for creating and maintaining that environment for the benefit of all and upholding our CSTE Values 

CSTE is committed to supporting equitable opportunities and respectful treatment for all participants in our activities, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, physical or mental ability, disability, age, physical appearance, race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, nationality, or any other diverse characteristics. We seek to be a welcoming community in which you can consider and debate a range of relevant viewpoints in a respectful and inclusive manner.  

Scope of this Policy 

This policy applies to all participants, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, staff, contractors, consultants, media, attendees, and agents of CSTE during CSTE events and activities, both online and in-person, including but not limited to conference calls, meetings, conferences, off-site social events sponsored by CSTE, webinars, seminars, training courses, and networking events.  This policy extends to CSTE committees and workgroups, mentorship/fellowship programs, publications, community discussions, and engagement with CSTE on social media.  

Expected Behavior  

All participants are expected to treat others with respect and consideration, follow venue or virtual forum rules, and to alert CSTE staff to any violations of this Code of Conduct, dangerous situations, or circumstances that cause any participant undue distress. When you participate in CSTE activities, we expect you to:  

  • Treat others with respect and consideration; 
  • Respect differences of opinion and be inclusive of a diverse range of experiences and perspectives;  
  • Express differences in ideas and opinions productively, free of personal attacks;  
  • Consider the impact of your communications and communication style; words can be interpreted as aggressive or negative, even if this is not what you intended;  
  • Abide by all venue rules and policies;  
  • Presume goodwill in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and respectfully alert others if their comments or conduct are unwelcome to you;  
  • Respect others’ personal space, unless they invite the physical contact;  
  • Be an ally and speak up, reach out to the affected individual, or notify CSTE staff when you see unacceptable behavior that affects another; and  
  • For in-person events, alert CSTE staff or venue security (if available) to any dangerous situations or if anyone is in distress.  

    Unacceptable Behavior  

    CSTE will not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or abuse in connection with CSTE events and activities. Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to:  

    • Speech, gestures, or behaviors that are known to be or should reasonably be expected to be unwelcome or are personally offensive, abusive, or derogatory;  
    • Harmful or harassing verbal or written comments related to or motivated by another’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, or other protected characteristic;  
    • Verbal or physical intimidation, virtual or in-person stalking or unwelcome following, threats, stalking, or bullying;  
    • Sustained or repeated disruption of events, including sustained interruption, yelling at, or threatening any speakers, attendees, or CSTE staff;  
    • Physical harassment, including unwelcome touching or groping, unwelcome attention, or inappropriate/unnecessary physical contact (including physical contact that exceeds the level invited by the other person);  
    • Real or implied threat of physical harm;  
    • Use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or in presentations that are not appropriate to a sexual health topic;  
    • Harassing or unwelcome photography or recording;  
    • Retaliation against anyone for raising a complaint under this Code of Conduct or participating in an investigation; and  
    • Other conduct designed or expected to impair the positive experience of any other participant.  

    Behavior that is perceived to be acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. When in doubt about whether another person welcomes physical contact or when interacting with members who may be used to different cultural conventions, refrain from physical contact or ask first.  

    Anyone requested to cease unacceptable behavior or informed that their conduct or comments are unwelcome is expected to comply with such requests immediately. Targets or witnesses of unacceptable behavior are encouraged to communicate boundaries but are not under any obligation to attempt to stop the harassing behavior or to confront the alleged offender. The absence of an objection to unacceptable behavior in the moment will not be assumed to reflect implicit consent to such behavior.  

    As at any conference or other professional event, participants often combine professional activities with social interaction with other staff and attendees. While CSTE encourages such networking and strengthening of connections between participants, CSTE reserves the right to remove or block any participant whose social attentions become unwelcome to another (whether in-person or online) and who persists in such attentions after their unwelcome nature has been communicated. CSTE also reserves the right to remove or block or remove virtual access to any participant or attendee who appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and who engages in conduct that interferes with the ability of other attendees to participate in and enjoy the in-person or virtual event or activity.  

    Participants must also cooperate with any CSTE investigation into reports of a violation of this Code of Conduct by providing information requested by CSTE that is relevant to CSTE’s investigation.  

    CSTE Right to Restrict Participation in CSTE Meetings and Events  

    CSTE reserves the right to remove any participant from any CSTE event or activity in violation of CSTE’s organizational values: Commitment to Service, Teamwork and Excellence through integrity and respect for all. 

    CSTE reserves the right to remove any participant from any CSTE event or activity whose social attentions become unwelcome to another and who persists in such attentions after their unwelcome nature has been communicated. CSTE also reserves the right to remove any participant or attendee who engages in conduct that interferes with the ability of other participants or attendees to participate in and enjoy the event or activity, including, but not limited to persons who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

    CSTE may remove any individual from attendance or other participation in any CSTE-sponsored event or activity without prior warning or refund. If CSTE, in its reasonable judgment, determines that an individual has violated the Code of Conduct, CSTE may also prohibit the individual from attending or participating in future CSTE events or activities.  


    CSTE is not responsible for the opinions and actions of participants during any CSTE event or activity. By participating in any CSTE event or activity, you explicitly agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless CSTE and its directors, officers, employees, and agents from and against all third-party claims, demands, and liabilities, including reasonable attorney’s fees. In no event shall CSTE be liable for any special, indirect, or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever, including third-party claims, resulting from participation in any CSTE event or activity.  


    If you believe you have been subjected to or have witnessed harassment or other unacceptable behavior, please contact CSTE Human Resources at [email protected] or use a venue phone and ask for security if you feel unsafe. You are not expected to discuss the incident with the offending party, but you will be asked to fill out a report within ten (10) days of the incident. All complaints for which sufficient information is provided will be treated seriously and addressed promptly. Confidentiality will be honored to the extent permitted as long as the rights of others are not compromised. Procedure information will be provided to those involved in reporting.