The recent flurry of sexual assault scandals rocking the news cycle started with Harvey Weinstein only two months ago, and a large number of those accused are indeed part of Hollywood in some way. Although the problem of sexual assault is not contained to the actors, directors, and producers working there—and is, instead, a societal issue—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is trying to do its part to hold its members accountable for unethical behavior.
As the LA Times reports, the Academy informed its 8,500 members on Wednesday via a letter containing details of their new standards of conduct. These new standards have been approved by the Academy’s board of governors. The 54 members consulted with professors of ethics, business, philosophy and law, as well as human resources and sexual harassment experts. “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,” the Academy’s statement says. “The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”
Soon after the explosive allegations against Weinstein came to light, the Academy moved quickly and voted to expel the Hollywood mogul. However, Bill Cosby, Brett Ratner, and Roman Polanski, who have all been credibly accused of despicable acts of sexual assault and violence, are still members. Last year, Casey Affleck was awarded by the Academy with an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea even after being sued for sexual harassment. The new regulations stipulate that the board of governors, which includes big-shot names like Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Whoopi Goldberg, will be the ones responsible for enforcing the new standards.
“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 statement reads.
“Much remains to be done,” Academy chief executive Dawn Hudson wrote soon after the new regulations were announced. “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.”
“We are articulating these standards," Hudson continued, "with the simple goal of fostering the kind of environment that enables and supports creativity, and furthers the Academy’s mission."