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Coral Sheldon-Hess (non-member)'s picture

Code of Conduct - ad-hoc committee

Here's the text of my email to the AkLA list:

Hello, everyone!  

AkLA is investigating adopting an anti-harassment statement/code of conduct for our conferences and meetings. This is increasingly becoming standard practice for events in the technology field, including local ones, but conferences in other, related fields (like librarianship) are close on tech's heels on this (to list a few, I know that ALA, SLA, Code4Lib, LITA Forum, and ER&L have them). A number of authors, most prominently Hugo Award winner John Scalzi, have publicly pledged only to attend conferences that have these statements in place. (Here is Scalzi's pledge.) 
 
So, one aspect of the code of conduct issue is that, over time, the list of people who have signed such a pledge will increase, and conferences without codes of conduct will have much smaller pools of potential speakers and attendees.  
 
More importantly (to me, at least), a code of conduct is a visible way to demonstrate an organization's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and I think that we can all agree that we want AkLA to be a safe space for people of all backgrounds, gender expressions, orientations, and abilities. Although I am not aware of any incidents of harassment in the AkLA community, I believe that we, as a group, can also agree that harassment is not something we tolerate, and we would want anyone who felt harassed or unsafe in the future to have a way to report it and to feel safe in doing so. 
 
E-Council has agreed to let Daniel Cornwall and me co-chair an ad-hoc committee to put a draft together. We plan to work in ALA Connect, so the membership and E-Council can see it and comment on it as it's being worked on. If you're interested in helping, email us (I CCed Daniel, even though he's on the list, so you'll have both of our emails handy), and please join us in the Connect space. (People who aren't ALA members are still welcome in Connect; you can register for Connect by visiting http://connect.ala.org/user/register.) Since there are a number of examples we can work from, including our libraries' own codes of conduct, and since there's some time to play with between now and Face to Face (when I am hoping the vote on the finalized version will take place), I don't think this will be an onerous workgroup; so, please, if you're interested, let Daniel and me know! 
 
Thank you!

Daniel Cornwall's picture

Here are links to other codes of conduct. These are offered as examples of what some organizations are doing. AkLA's policy will be all its own. 

 

Daniel Cornwall

Alaska Chapter Councilor

Member, Depository Library Council

http://librarianfromalaska.wordpress.com

Daniel Cornwall's picture

Because we're asking people to register with ALA Connect to participant in the Code of Conduct discussions, I though it would be good to link to ALA Connect's Privacy FAQs.

Daniel Cornwall

Alaska Chapter Councilor

Member, Depository Library Council

http://librarianfromalaska.wordpress.com

Coral Sheldon-Hess (non-member)'s picture

I'm on a Mac and haven't bothered installing Word, so they're in .txt. We can clean it all up and add formatting when/if we have a draft we all agree on.

I went with the gold standard anti-harassment statement/code of conduct: Geek Feminism's, with very few changes. I included the part about allowing discussion of sensitive topics with the committee's advance permission and fair warning to attendees.

Questions or things that have to be changed each year are in [brackets].

What do y'all think?

 

Edit: THIS IS NOT THE MOST CURRENT DRAFT. SCROLL DOWN FOR THAT.

 

 

Maeghan Kearney (non-member)'s picture

Thanks Coral for making up the drafts.  I think they both look really good, and only have a few suggestions for the staff document. 

Warnings: Would prefer verbal warnings to come from conference staff. All attendees have the right to point out problem behavior in their fellow attendees, but personally I think noting that in the official policy would cause unnecessary emphasis on people looking for problem behaviors and policing other attendees.

Presentations: With policy violations outside of the one-time gaffs or minor problems, I would prefer that the presentation was paused to quietly speak to presenter about policy, then give presenter chance to modify the rest of the presentation.  If they cannot/will not modify the presentation, or more violations occur, then politely stop presentation/event. 

On the other hand, our presentations are generally less than an hour and I'm not sure if interrupting to ask them to quickly modify their program wouldn't be just as disruptive as stopping the presentation entirely.

Other guidelines: Should we add something about secondhand reporting?  Like what to do when someone reports on events that didn't happen to them?

Daniel Cornwall's picture

I think this draft is pretty reasonable. I'd strongly prefer that warnings only come from conference staff. In general it is fine for anyone to call someone out on harrassing behavior, but since it would be AkLA's Code of Conduct policy, only conference staff or other AkLA officers should be issuing warnings. 

 

Daniel Cornwall

Alaska Chapter Councilor

Member, Depository Library Council

http://librarianfromalaska.wordpress.com

Coral Sheldon-Hess (non-member)'s picture

I want the policy to allow/encourage third-party reporting of incidents to the conference committee, AND to encourage people to step in and stop harassing behavior if they witness it. Part of the point is to overcome "bystander syndrome." But I agree, the official warning, if any, needs to come from conference staff.

I changed the first sentence of the staff doc to "Any member of the AkLA Conference Staff can issue a verbal warning to a participant that their behavior violates the conference's anti-harassment policy."

 

 

 

Coral Sheldon-Hess (non-member)'s picture

Here is a link to the most recent drafts, also available under Online Docs. http://connect.ala.org/node/226669

 

 

Maeghan Kearney (non-member)'s picture

A more recent draft is available here: http://connect.ala.org/comment/65564#comment-65564