Draft Safe Space Policy

  • Classroom

    @Vaughn, @ColeVanD, any progress?

    Have you guys had a chance to look at and think about the resources that @Grant-Fraser and I posted above?

    I would like the policy to follow the same basic outline as I introduced for the classroom policy at the last members meeting, any thoughts on this?

    I will post the template in another thread, and link it here.

    You have said you would like to have this finalized by the December 12 meeting, and I have offered to help, but so far haven’t heard back. I’m just wondering if this is where the work on the policy is happening or if it is elsewhere.

    Thanks, kile

    @kile: added link

  • Classroom

    @kile said:

    unwanted negative behaviour

    I’m a bit worried that this phrase is a bit vague and open ended. I think we need to list some specific types of behaviour that this might include, both to limit perceived but not intended “negative behaviours”, as well as to make it easier for people to tell when the policy is being broken, and document these events.


  • @kile I like vague and open ended. Otherwise we have to imagine every negative scenario and make specific rules against each one. We need to be clear that it is ultimately up to the board to decide which negative experiences need to be dealt with and in which way. Satisfaction is not guaranteed.

  • Classroom

    @Grant-Fraser, fair point.

    I am okay with open ended. We cannot anticipate every scenario.

    I think it is the vague part that bothers me. If we don’t define ‘unwanted negative behaviour’ at all, it seems to leave everything up to the opinion of the accuser. This could result in accusers getting fixated on every perceived microaggression being contrary to the policy as there is no benchmark, or the equally unfortunate example of a marginalized person who is experiencing bullying that does not have the verbal or written faculties to make a well articulated and documented complaint against their bully.

    It is the second part that concerns me more to be honest.

    I think we need to do a better job at spelling out what bullying looks like.

    edit: @kile—grammar

  • Classroom

    There is one other potential issue that I would like to raise.

    Most anti-bullying policies include a real or perceived imbalance of power.

    From the wikipedia link above:

    One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.

    I don’t want to pass an anti-conflict policy.

    Conflict is a sometimes unenjoyable—but ultimately unavoidable—part of collaborating in a group.

    I think that this policy should help point to the line between conflict and bullying, or else it will be uninterpretable and unenforceable.

    If someone was always wrong, and another individual insisted on pointing out factual inconsistencies in their reasoning, then based on the policy as written above, the questioner could be deemed a bully. In this hypothetical, I think it is reasonable to initiate conflict to advocate for issues that you believe are correct.

    What is not reasonable, is drawing on a position of social influence not related to the conflict at hand as a means to resolving it. Also, bringing any personal issues that do not directly relate is the same thing IMO.

  • Design Lab

    I’ll reach out to @ColeVanD and follow up on this one. I am hopeful we can get a basic model ready for Dec 12th.

  • Founder

    Chiming in…

    I also have issues with the “unwanted negative behavior” phrase. I’ve seen a lot of objectively very reasonable behavior be labeled negative and unwanted from a subjective perspective.

    I don’t like vague personally. I think we can and should have broad, basic and general terms that are also very clear and definite.

    My main worry in this is that subjective perspectives (whether the perspective of the individual filing grievance or the board passing judgement) are given sway over objective and collectively defined policy.

    I think this board and subsequent boards need clear benchmarks (like the mission statement) to guide and inform decisions on specific instances related to this policy moving forward.

    If we are drafting a mushy, unclear policy, trusting the board with final judgement based on unknown or unclear criteria, why all this trouble drafting a policy?

    If that’s the strategy we decide upon (not what id vote for), then why not be honest and just offer a channel for complaints and grievances at the mercy of the board?

    I think @Vaughn had it right at the last meeting. We need 3 or 4 very clear, Simple but broad statements defining general terms, the board makes its decision based on the broadly applicable objective policy.

    @kile we went over that lateral violence list last week. Much of it is fine with me. Save a few things that imo again give a little too much leeway to the subjective to define almost anything as violence, bullying or harassment. Sometimes sharing this planet with other beings can be upsetting or uncomfortable, and especially the younger generations are always looking to hang blame someplace. However, oftentimes its really nobodies fault, and alking others to take responsibility for our own feelings is asking far too much, especially when such transactions are written into policy.

    In general i think that list drills way too deep into granular detail for the purposes of this policy. Although it was certainly worth my read to clarify where i stand and could offer a little language to help us draft a clear and useful policy.

    I’d encourage everybody interested to give it a read.

    @Grant-Fraser i like the two lists you posted. Neither feels exactly right to me for our purposes, but they offer a good example of simple and clear guidelines for group behavior. 6 is the magic number on both, I’d like to see us cram it into 5.

  • Founder

    I’ll offer up the 4 agreements from Miguel-ruiz. Again, not exactly what we need. But i see it as an example of a broadly applicable (encompasses all interpersonal interactions) and clear guide.

    1. Be impeccable with your word

    2. Don’t take anything personally

    3. Don’t make assumptions

    4. Always do your best

    “Don’t take anything personally” is perhaps a little deeper than most drafting or working under policies like this generally want to go. But this is plain good advice for any interpersonal interaction. I’ve seem so many of the kinds of grievances that policies like this facilitate blown up into full scale administrative war when it really should have never been taken personally.

    Sometimes people are assholes to others. It usually has a lot more to do with the asshole than the other.

    A long shot at barking up the wrong tree, but having something like “Don’t take it personally” would make me very pleased.

    Also, don’t make assumptions…
    Are you sure that person intended to hurt you? Are you sure that you understand what they meant? Perhaps the other was simply not being impeccable with their word? Maybe a conversation to clarify would be better than administrating resolution?

    Again as with not taking things personally, this turns the mirror on the accuser and the spotlight off of the abuser, which can be uncomfortable for the post modern liberal mindset. I understand. I just feel responsibility should always be evenly distributed, even in cases of clear cut wrong doing.

  • Classroom

    Thanks for the feedback @Bradley-Maker I agree with everything that you are outlining.

    I think for us, it might be easiest for the policy to maybe tweak the language around “unwanted negative behaviour” and add a reference to a supporting document. The supporting document could be a living document that we update as time goes on, and review periodically. It would also be a more appropriate place to put what I consider the ‘teamwork strategies’ that you and @Grant-Fraser have recommended.

    I think the discretion should ultimately be left up to the board, but I agree that a clearly defined guiding document for their decisions would ultimately make for a much more consistent approach, and much more clarity around the policy.

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