Sunday, 25 January 2009

Safer spaces policy

Our Occupation is a Safe Space

In writing this policy we acknowledge that the creation of a safe working environment for all will be conducive to our collective functioning and the practical application of our ideals and principles.

A safer spaces policy is not a list of rules to be enforced by punishments or exclusion. It is a mutual agreement to be taken on and considered by all group participants in order to facilitate the cooperative functioning and well-being of the group.

This occupation will be a space where people feel supported and respected by one another and motivated to work together cooperatively. Intimidation and discrimination will not be tolerated.

Our policy:

It is our objective to create an inclusive environment for all and to strive for full equality of participation. Personal feelings and individual well-being are integral to the effective organisation of the group and must be treated as such. Participants are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. There is no space for discrimination against others on any grounds, including but not exclusive to religion, gender, race, political perspective and/or affiliation, (dis)ability, sexuality.

We acknowledge that these sorts of discriminations are endemic and encourage participants to examine their own privileges and received prejudices to further their own learning and to open up avenues for all members of the group. Similarly, an effort to overcome our own expectations and assumptions of others as they are shaped by the above factors is of benefit to all.

Whilst we acknowledge that individual political and organisational experience is valuable to the group and should be put to constructive use, in the spirit of collectivity and equality all participants should be encouraged to contribute according to resources and volition.

Group meetings:

The democratic process can only function if participants feel able to express their opinions freely and have them met with respect and consideration. Group dynamics are important and affect the decision-making process, and how involved everyone feels within it. To this end we encourage self-regulation against such intimidatory behaviour as tutting; exasperated sighing; banging on tables; shouting; inflammatory language; speaking when others are, or speaking out of turn.

The facilitator reserves the right to prioritise people who have been quiet and newcomers over those who have spoken lots already. Any special needs of group participants will be accommodated by the group and by the facilitator. The facilitator has a special responsibility to reflect the safer space policy in their facilitation and is also protected by it.

Any individual has the right to register to the group if at any time the safer space policy has been violated in the knowledge that this will be immediately acknowledged and dealt with by the group or added to the agenda for consideration at a more appropriate time.

If anyone experiences behaviour that they feel violates these principles, volunteers from the welfare working group will be available to create dialogue-orientated resolution between individuals and provide support.

Some positive things that we should do to create a safer space:
- respect people's physical and emotional boundaries
- respect people's opinions, beliefs, differing states of being and differing points of view
- be responsible for your own action. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be
- take responsibility for your own well-being and get help if you need it

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