Safer spaces policy
No space can be completely safe and free from oppression. What this policy aims to do is increase the awareness of all OARC collective members to make this space as safe as possible. We hope that everyone will feel welcome and comfortable in this space, and also respect the general politics and principles of the OARC community. We welcome the continuing discussion about and improvement of this policy.
By entering OARC or participating in the activities of the OARC collective, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Non-consensual violence, whether verbal or physical, including sexual harassment, will not be tolerated in OARC, and offenders will be asked to leave.
OARC, and events organised by the OARC collective, are safer spaces. Violence, harassment and abuse will not be tolerated in any form. This can be based on gender, sexual preference, race, socio-economic status, political beliefs, physical abilities, class, age, physical appearance, religion, and a myriad of other factors.
If we wish to enact social change, we must implement that change in our daily behaviours.
What This Means in Practice
There can be no definitive list of behaviours / comments / situations which make people feel uncomfortable. The main thing is to concentrate on how your actions are affecting others, and modify your behaviour as appropriate.
Try to remain open to discussion of ways to improve communication in the space, and continually question the privilege you have (e.g. from being older, from being an "experienced" activist, from utilising the space more frequently, from your ethnicity, from your gender, etc.). It's your responsibility to ensure you aren't taking up too much "space", and devaluing or disregarding the opinions and experiences of others. It is also your responsibility to point out when others are taking up too much "space", and devaluing or disregarding your opinions and experiences.
Taking up too much space and devaluing or disregarding the opinions and experiences of others includes, but is not limited to: speaking loudly and over the top of others, interrupting other's speech, dominating conversation and not allowing others to speak, assuming everyone knows where all utilities are in the building, explaining concepts condescendingly, making assumptions about the experiences and lifestyles of others, staring at others in a manner which makes them uncomfortable (i.e. "checking them out") and invading the personal space of others.
Please keep the following in mind:
- You are fully responsible for being aware of your needs and communicating them
- You are also responsible for listening when others articulate their needs, and taking others' feelings about your behaviour seriously.
- Every-one's physical and emotional boundaries are different. Always ask consent before touching someone in a manner that could be considered intimate, and check if people are comfortable discussing certain topics that may be triggering (e.g. sexual abuse, sexual experiences, physical violence, or encounters with the police).
- Pay attention to body language, as people often use non-verbal clues to communicate a lack of consent (e.g. not making eye contact, making excuses to move away from you, not responding to your physical advances).
- Take responsibility for your own actions, and consider how your behaviour and speech affect others. Remember that not everyone reacts the same way.
- Respect other's thoughts and opinions. This doesn't mean we all have to agree, but that discussion is entered into without prejudice or personal insult.
- Try to avoid using language that others may find offensive or derogatory.
- Look out for others, and try not to leave anything around that may endanger their physical safety.
- No smoking is allowed within the EOCC building itself. Be aware of the influence of alcohol and other drugs on yourself and others, and think about limiting your use if you know that you become violent or disrespectful under their influence.
- Be aware of yourself and how you are feeling. If you need assistance, do not be afraid to ask someone or call a friend. Removing yourself physically from a situation can be a great help.
Dealing With Grievances
If somebody else's behaviour is making you feel unsafe or crossing your boundaries in some way, in the first instance, you should try to resolve this through an informal discussion with the person concerned.
If this is not effective, or if you feel unsafe approaching the other person, you may seek a mediator from within or outside the collective. They can talk to you about how you wish to resolve the issue and can act on your behalf if you desire.
Grievances which cannot be resolved through a mediator can be brought to the collective to be discussed at the next meeting.
Either the accused or the accuser may select a person to represent and/or support them at the meeting.
The collective can ask either the accused or the accuser (and their representatives) to leave the meeting if they deem that to be suitable.
The collective will seek a timely resolution to any grievance. Ideally this will be a form of agreed conflict resolution, but if this is not possible other sanctions may be implemented.
Progress towards resolving conflicts and any sanctions that might be applied should be reviewed by the collective on a regular basis.
A suggestion box will be kept at in OARC for anonymous comments on this policy. Alternatively, all are welcome to attend collective meetings and have further input.