D-ARCH Code of Conduct

Glossary entry:





This D-ARCH Code of Conduct states what we, as D-ARCH community, collectively strive for in order to create a safe and inclusive work and learning environment. It is a regulatory ideal and a learning tool that helps us assess problematic situations and guide our behaviour in case of confusion or doubt. 


This Code of Conduct is a declaration of intent, not a procedural protocol. It does not offer simple solutions or quick fixes simply because these do not always exist. The Code of Conduct is to be seen as an invitation and guiding framework to establish and maintain an open conversation on our shared D-ARCH learning and working culture. 


The D-ARCH Code of Conduct is complemented with the D-ARCH Care and Complaint Network that offers support and outlines the first steps to take in the case of breaches of the Code of Conduct. Both are in line with ETH regulations and procedures. D-ARCH has developed these department-specific tools to make the ETH framework more accessible and applied to the specifics of architecture education, and set up a system of care around it.


The Code of Conduct employs a ‘we’ throughout the text, to stress the importance of our shared responsibility as a community and to urge every member to feel implicated and self-reflect. However, this ‘we’ does not eradicate the reality of the power and privilege differences at play in D-ARCH. 


The D-ARCH Code of Conduct is written in an accessible and clear language. However, it does not refrain from introducing a few key parity and diversity terms and concepts, in order to build up a basic literacy. To back this up, a glossary is added in a first annex. A second annex offers concrete examples and further explanations to the statements of the Code.


The D-ARCH Code of Conduct holds for all members of the D-ARCH community, as well as invited guests. It also concerns behaviour outside D-ARCH that potentially compromises the safety and integrity of D-ARCH’s work and learning environment. It was developed in 2023 but is annually revised and part of an ongoing learning culture. 


Chapter 1. Safety, inclusion and belonging


Inappropriate behaviour


We stand up against inappropriate behaviour, including bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, stalking, threats and violence.


Inappropriate behaviour is not subjective: it transgresses reasonable standards of respectful behaviour. This implies that even when a victim or bystander does not experience behaviour as problematic, it can still be inappropriate (see example 1 in annex). Conversely, not all feelings of hurt result from inappropriate behaviour (see example 2). Inappropriate behaviour can take the form of speech, conduct, non-verbal body language, written language, and images, including communication via text messages, email or social media.


When faced with inappropriate behaviour, we immediately try to address and stop it.


When we are unable to stop inappropriate behaviour, or fear it will repeat itself, we document it and seek guidance from a confidence person and/or notify a supervisor. 


Also as bystanders we immediately try to address and stop inappropriate behaviour. When necessary, we document it and/or turn to a confidence person to seek guidance or report it. Ignoring inappropriate behaviour is also inappropriate. 


We speak up even though we might not fully understand a situation. We always act in good faith: premature or ill-intended accusations are unacceptable.


At all times we respect the victim’s wishes of anonymity and we maintain confidentiality for all involved, unless the law requires otherwise, for example in the case of a criminal offence. 


We all make mistakes and deserve the chance to learn. When in doubt about our own behaviour, we talk to a confidence person. 


We lead by example. The more power and/or privilege we have, the more responsibility we take to act (see example 3). 




We condemn and act against all forms of discrimination in our work and learning environment. 


Discrimination, including racism and sexism, concerns any form of discriminating actions based on actual, attributed or group-specific characteristics, including but not limited to social or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, racial characteristics, age, parental, civil or professional status. This can be conscious or unconscious, explicit or implicit, structural or interpersonal.


We perform a discrimination ‘check’ on all decisions, actions and procedures at D-ARCH, for example in hiring procedures, teaching programmes, grading or grant allocations, to ensure that there is no discrimination at play, and that parity and diversity are considered. 


Recognising that racism, sexism and discriminatory behaviour is structurally embedded in society, we actively pursue learning opportunities to undo implicit biases and discriminatory behaviour. We embrace criticism as a learning opportunity (see example 4).


We carefully consider how we name, narrate, and evaluate non-Western cultures, worldviews and histories in our courses, lectures and papers. 


We refrain from using stereotypes, diminutives and belittling words, even in the case of compliments and humour, as they can be harmful.


We try to minimise and compensate for the disproportionate cost that people of underprivileged and/or underrepresented groups bear for speaking up, working or studying in elite institutions. (see example 5)




We unmask and alleviate class bias in the way we work together, teach and value architecture. 


Class facilitates our access to wealth, means, time, mobility, knowledge, education,

networks & culture.


We perform a class ‘check’ on curricular or extracurricular activities to ensure their feasibility for people from all social backgrounds, acknowledging that not everyone has access to the same means, networks or time (see example 6).


We install a culture of fair due dates, deliverables and agreements that go against the privilege of overperforming. 


We don’t take up or offer un(der)paid, non-contractual and long hours labour, in nor outside D-ARCH. We pursue a culture of fair pay and practice.




We use languages as a tool of inclusion. 


We perform a language ‘check’ to ensure that everyone has equal access to information, collaboration and sociability. 


We appreciate the efforts of non-native speakers. We appreciate dialects insofar they are not used as tools of exclusion (see example 7). 


We use gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory and stereotype-free language, both in written and spoken form.


Chapter 2. Social relations


Power and dependency relations 


We assess and reflect on our power positions and adapt our behaviour accordingly. 


Power and dependency relations result from formal hierarchical relations, but also seniority on the work or study floor, professional security and status, financial means, age, gender, race, language and even popularity produce power imbalances (see example 8). 


When we are in a position of power, we do not impose familiarity or trust upon others. We understand that this can be intimidating or difficult to opt out (see example 9)


When we are in a position of power, we respect people’s limits and don’t take advantage of their trust and dependency. 


When we are in a position of power, we limit our speaking time. We give others the opportunity to take up an equal amount of space and voice, without forcing anyone to speak. 


When we are in a position of power, we guarantee that all student/staff evaluation and feedback methods are free of the risk of retaliation. 


When we are in a position of power, we follow rules and are impartial. We never use our position for personal benefit or to benefit others. We avoid and disclose conflicts of interest. 


When we are in a position of power, we acknowledge and respect a diversity of perspectives and worldviews. 


We correctly credit the work of all collaborators, including students, and only share this work with everyone’s consent. We do not claim the work of others as our own and follow the ETH compliance guide


Personal relations


When we are in a position of power, we don’t pursue personal relations with people who are dependent on us. In case these personal relations do occur, we take measures to avoid (the perception of) partiality and favouritism and the risk of retaliation (see example 10).


Under personal relationships we understand love, sex, close friendship or family relations as well as professional partnerships.


We refrain from flirting, seduction, amorous or sexual relations between supervisors and subordinates, professors and doctoral students and teaching staff and students.


In the case a personal relation does occur, past or present, we inform our supervisor and arrange a transfer of responsibilities. We do not evaluate those with whom we are, or were, personally involved.


We refrain from showing intimacy, familiarity, attraction or desire at work. We keep an equal work or study environment for all.


Good governance


We set up, maintain and adhere to principles and codes of good governance.


Good governance concerns the set-up and monitoring of guidelines and procedures that structure all key decision-making and communication processes. Good governance ensures transparency, democracy, integrity, parity and diversity, and rules out (the perception of) favouritism, discrimination and partiality. 


We set-up and monitor transparent and non-discriminatory procedures, for example to allocate grants and fellowships, appoint department leadership, professors and hiring committees. 


We always openly communicate how, when and by whom key decisions are being made.


We at all times avoid and disclose (potential) conflicts of interest when we partake in decision-making processes and follow the ETH-guidelines on this.


When we are in a supervising or representative position,  we act as role models of good governance and professional integrity: we follow leadership training, adhere to D-ARCH and ETH codes, guidelines and ethical frameworks, and set up transparent and effective reporting, evaluation, feedback and decision making structures. 


Chapter 3. Safe work and learning environment


Pedagogical and research integrity


We acquire and implement the tools, skills and methodologies to maintain professional integrity in research, teaching and learning.


We provide teaching and research staff during working hours with regular access to training, coaching or support. We invest in their professional development and career.  


We provide students with clear, consistent and reasonable learning objectives, and evaluation and grading criteria that are discussed at the start of a course, project or studio. 


We provide students with individual or project-specific exam corrections or feedback reports as a basis for further learning. 


We carefully consider the ethics of the research and design methodologies we apply, notably in fieldwork, participatory design, or when working with vulnerable groups, and set up an ethical framework to this end (see example 11).




We set up and safeguard the conditions to maintain a safe and comfortable work and study environment. 


A safe space allows us to be ourselves free from risk or potentially threatening actions or transgressions. A comfortable space is centred on wellbeing and allows us to find a good balance between work, study and life.


We are all responsible for a safe and comfortable work and study environment. We engage with each other respectfully and constructively, across hierarchies but also between peers.  


We make sure that credits and employment percentages reflect the actual workload.


We discuss and set due dates, presentation moments, review and table talk schedules in time for everyone to be able to structure their work and prepare well in advance. 


We don’t generate unreasonable levels of stress, pressure or competition. We refrain from emotional outbursts such as shouting, ridicule, or other expressions of anger, humiliation, disappointment or microaggressions in any kind of exchange or examination. If this kind of inappropriate behaviour happens, we try to stop it right away (see example 12).


We do not outcompete each other, nor maintain or promote a work and study environment based on extreme stress, exhaustion, substance abuse, and sleep and food deprivation. 




We offer a work and learning environment accessible to all, no matter one’s physical and mental challenges. 


We don’t set abled bodies as a standard for all. This implies we also reasonably consider different life circumstances and rhythms of learning.      


We offer tools and facilities to improve access to all departmental facilities. This includes toilet facilities for all, a breastfeeding and baby changing room, free menstrual products, and a silent and praying room.


Petra Van Brabandt & Els Silvrants-Barclay

For Parity and Diversity Commission (PDK) & D-ARCH Dean’s Office