Seven higher education associations, including ACE, submitted comments to the National Science Foundation (NSF) May 4 in response to a notice in the March 5 Federal Register proposing new reporting requirements on sexual assault and harassment for NSF grantees.
The requirements were first announced in February by NSF Director France A. Córdova in a notice to college and university presidents outlining the agency’s commitment to “promoting safe, productive research and education environments for current and future scientists and engineers.”
While the associations support NSF's interest in addressing and eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault in the scientific workplace, they do have concerns about the new reporting requirements, including:
- the requirement to report placing a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on administrative leave, which could have a chilling effect;
- the intersection of this new requirement with existing privacy regulations and state laws ; and
- the amount of time needed by an institution to name a new PI and create a plan for continued oversight and implementation of the project.
The associations urged NSF to thoroughly review and consider the comments received by the higher education and scientific communities before implementing the new reporting requirements.