Access, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity

AIFS Abroad is pleased to make Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (AIDE) the lens through which we consider a wide range of organizational and programming decisions.

After a year of compellation and collaboration with colleagues and experts in the field we have officially launched the 2021 AIFS Abroad Plan of Action for AIDE. Priorities included in the plan were developed through internal and external conversations, open staff forums, and group discussions and surveys from AIFS Study Abroad staff, our Board of Advisors, and our Alumni Ambassadors. The data received through these avenues informed the direction taken by the AIFS Study Abroad Diversity & Inclusion Working group who were responsible for the creation and review of this plan of action.

2021 Goals Progress

As access, inclusion, diversity, and equity are multidisciplinary considerations, our plan focuses on six themes spanning the education abroad experience. Each has corresponding goals, measures of success and accountability check points that will be updated on a quarterly basis. The search feature below allows you to get a general report on the progress we are making toward each goal. If you would like more details on our internal process, please email alumni@aifs.com.

 

Select a Theme and Goal to view progress updates


Communications

55%

Policies

82%

Processes

88%

Programs

69%

Resources

44%

Staff & Training

42%

Download a PDF of our 2021
AIFS Abroad Plan of Action for AIDE



Annual reviews and feedback will help shape the annual priorities and we look forward to further engagement with all our stakeholders as we advance this important priority. We welcome feedback to Angela Manginelli, Vice President of Alumni & Inclusion Initiatives at alumni@aifs.com.

Incident Reporting Policy

AIFS Abroad is committed to maintaining a positive and inclusive environment. Each participant, staff member, and individual helping to deliver the program (faculty, homestay families, host company employees, our guides, etc.) plays a role in fostering this environment. We must be aware that what we say, do, think, allow to happen, or fail to stop has the power to harm or to help our participants, their families and support network, our colleagues, and ultimately ourselves. Remarks and actions that negatively impact members of our community are not acceptable.


Every program participant signs the AIFS Abroad Code of Conduct stating that they understand if they participate in discrimination or harassment toward participants and/or members of staff, they are in violation of the AIFS Abroad Code of Conduct, and this action is grounds for dismissal from the program.


Discrimination and harassment include, but are not limited to, derogatory comments or actions based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex (including gender identity, gender presentation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, or parental status; unwanted advances, disorderly conduct, physical abuse, verbal abuse, microaggressions, threats, verbal or nonverbal intimidation, intentional or unintentional bullying, bias, stalking, exclusion, or coercion. See the list of definitions below for more information.


Any participant found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment (virtually or in-person) will be subject to AIFS Abroad-imposed discipline and/or legal action. Consequences imposed on any participant found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment may include, but are not limited to, a written or verbal apology, facilitated conversations, counseling, disciplinary probation, and/or dismissal from the program. If a participant is dismissed from the program, there will be no refund of program fees.

Any participant who has experienced or witnessed harassment or discrimination as defined above is encouraged to report the incident to AIFS Abroad staff on-site either in-person or through email, phone call, text or WhatsApp message. If a participant does not feel comfortable reporting to staff on-site – or if the incident involves on-site staff – they should email Angela Manginelli, AIFS Abroad Vice President of Alumni & Inclusion Initiatives at reporting@aifs.com. The email should describe the misconduct and identify the individual(s) involved in the incident.


AIFS Abroad welcomes all reports of identity-based discrimination or harassment and does not limit the time frame for reporting. AIFS Abroad encourages prompt reporting where possible, because it increases our ability to respond to the reported behavior and to provide support to affected participants. Reporting parties should be mindful that delays in reporting may affect options for response, particularly when an accused individual is no longer a student, faculty, staff, or otherwise affiliated with AIFS Abroad.

At AIFS Abroad, the individual who files a report is the complainant and the person a claim is filed against is the respondent.

In situations where a reported incident of discrimination or harassment involves an AIFS Abroad staff member and/or individual helping to deliver the program (faculty, homestays families, host company employees, our guides, etc.) the process will be adjusted to include AIFS Abroad Human Resources staff and/or to follow host university/internship employer protocol.

The procedure for AIFS Abroad program participants is as follows:


Complainant reports incident of harassment or discrimination to AIFS Abroad. Staff will provide resources, including access to counseling, to support the reporting student. If the incident breaks the law in the country in question, AIFS Abroad staff will encourage and support the complainant reporting the incident to the police.

All incident reports made will be acknowledged and reviewed by members of AIFS Abroad Staff and Leadership Team within one week of the incident report being filed. AIFS Abroad is committed to respecting privacy in responding to reported concerns of identity-based discrimination or harassment. Information related to a report of discrimination or harassment will be shared with only those individuals who “need-to-know” the information for AIFS Abroad to properly assess and resolve the matter.

The respondent will be notified verbally, and in writing, by an AIFS Abroad staff member of any alleged violation(s) of the AIFS Code of Conduct brought against them. The respondent will have an opportunity to provide a statement in response to the charged violation(s). AIFS Abroad may place the respondent on probation while a final decision is being made. The probation may require the participant to find alternative housing at their own expense. AIFS Abroad, at its discretion, may notify the complainant and respondent’s home university of any serious misconduct or for the sake of a health and/or safety issue. The participant’s home university may, at its discretion, take further disciplinary actions against a participant sanctioned by AIFS Abroad, including, but not limited to, suspension or dismissal.

AIFS Abroad staff, with assistance from the complainant, will collect witness statements, physical evidence, and/or supporting documentation. These items will be used in the formal review process.

The AIFS Abroad local staff and Leadership Team, based on the available information, will determine the consequences, including disciplinary actions, for violation of the Code of Conduct, if any. Both the complainant and respondent will be notified in writing, as soon as possible, of AIFS Abroad’s decision.

Disciplinary actions can take a variety of forms, and combinations of actions can be issued depending on the violations in question. AIFS Abroad at its sole discretion will determine what action, if any, to take for violation of the Code of Conduct. AIFS Abroad participants will not receive a refund or credit for missed activities or events as a result of any disciplinary actions. Such actions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Written or verbal apology: Respondents might be asked to provide an apology to the complainant for the Code of Conduct violation.
  • Facilitated conversations or counseling: Depending on the situation, respondents might be asked to work with a counselor or engage in facilitated conversations.
  • Restitution: Payment of the cost to repair or replace any damage of personal property because of damage or theft.
  • Suspension or Loss of Privileges: Respondent’s privileges to use facilities or to participate in activities or events may be restricted for a designated period or completely withdrawn.
  • Housing Termination: Respondent may be required to leave the AIFS Abroad-arranged housing and obtain housing accommodations on their own and at their own expense.
  • Disciplinary Probation: Respondent will be provided written notification of the terms and condition of the probationary restrictions imposed for violating the Code of Conduct. Failure to comply with such restrictions or further violations during the remainder of the Respondent’s AIFS Abroad Program may result in immediate dismissal from the program. During this probationary period, the AIFS Abroad participant could be prohibited from participating in all AIFS Abroad group activities, attending classes, entering AIFS facilities (including offices, classrooms, and study centers), and internship employment with the Sponsor.
  • Dismissal: Permanent removal of the respondent from the AIFS Abroad Program. Dismissal from the AIFS Abroad program shall not diminish or otherwise affect the respondent’s obligation to make any and all payments to AIFS Abroad.
  • Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

  • Coercion: The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

  • Complainant: Individual who files a formal complaint of discrimination or harassment

  • Discrimination: Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

  • Exclusion: Socially or physically excluding or disregarding a person in program-related activities.

  • Gesture Bullying: Nonverbal threatening gestures or glances that convey threatening messages.

  • Harassment: Harassment based on any protected characteristic is strictly prohibited. Under our policy, harassment is verbal, written or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law, and that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, and / or otherwise adversely affects or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s experience abroad.
    Harassing conduct includes epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; and written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group that is circulated by e-mail, phone (including voice messages), text messages, social networking sites or other means.

  • Microaggressions: A statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, unconscious, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. Author Dr. Derald W. Sue defines them as "The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people."

  • Physical Bullying: Pushing, shoving, kicking, poking, tripping, assault, or threat of physical assault; damage to a person’s work area or property.

  • Respondent: Person who is the subject of a formal complaint of discrimination or harassment

  • Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment constitutes discrimination and is not permitted on AIFS abroad programs. Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors may include unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering, whistling or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.

  • Verbal Bullying: Slandering, ridiculing, or maligning a person or his/her family; persistent name calling that is hurtful, insulting or humiliating; using a person as the butt of jokes; abusive and offensive remarks.

AIFS Inclusive Housing Policy

AIFS is recognized as a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, over 1.6 million students have travelled abroad with AIFS. With more than 50 years of experience, we have the resources and experience to provide what our participants want and need in a study abroad program and to safeguard their welfare around the globe. AIFS Abroad offers a wide range of unique programs in Asia, Australia, Europe, South Africa, and the Americas.


AIFS Abroad is committed to providing safe and suitable accommodation, wherever a participant chooses to study or intern abroad. With an extensive range of programs, we aim to meet individual needs in each location wherever possible. This policy applies to all staff members with housing responsibilities and all enrolled participants who are housed in accommodation organized by AIFS Abroad. We work with a broad range of carefully selected accommodation providers.


AIFS Abroad is dedicated to providing safe, inclusive, and supportive living environments for participants of all race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion and mobility needs. We are committed to being transparent about the level of housing accommodations available in each location and surplus costs if applicable. Resources and accessibility will vary from site to site and participants play a vital role in shaping their study abroad experience by disclosing any specific accommodations required with advance notice using the disclosure forms in the “Access, Mobility, & Disability Abroad” section on the AIFS Abroad Student Resources website. This will enable AIFS Abroad staff to fully support individual needs to the best of their ability.


We encourage participants to fully disclose specific needs on the provided self-disclosure forms and to speak with their pre-departure staff and on-site staff prior to arrival on site. We have discretionary funds available to support students with accommodation requests related to access, inclusion, diversity, and equity and will work with individuals and their home institution’s education abroad and support service offices (when applicable/permitted) to review the distribution of associated costs for accommodation requests.