Raising Concerns: What You Can Expect
As the organizing committee of The International Faculty and Staff Sexual Misconduct Conference, we are committed to creating and holding a space that is affirming and welcoming for everyone that attends. The Code of Conduct sets out expectations for ensuring that the conference is as inclusive and accessible as possible. We recognize, however, that there can be a gap between intention and outcome, and that the charged subjects we will discuss at this specific conference might result in tensions. We cannot guarantee a fully safe space within a conference space but we have put in place mechanisms to create a constructive space for dialogue during the conference. This is a living document; we are in ongoing discussions about it which we plan to continue during the conference.
If you are concerned about any behavior, before or during the conference, that is inconsistent with the code of conduct, there are multiple ways you can alert us:
- raise ideas or concerns in person with one of the organizing committee;
- email firstname.lastname@example.org with the phrase ‘Code of Conduct’ in the subject line;
- send a message through WhatsApp to “FASSM Conference”
We view this as an opportunity to model practice to be followed when concerns are raised. Our approach to addressing and resolving concerns will be based on the following principles:
2. We will hear and take seriously your concerns
We will find a private space to talk with you. The organizing committee will discuss any concerns with each other and will determine mediator involvement, unless you specifically request that we do not. We will keep our concerns confidential within the committee, and not share anything you tell us outside of the committee without your permission.
3. We trust that you know best what you need
The starting point will be what you want and need to happen. We strive not to be power holders at the conference, and to collaborate with you over what action (if any) you would like to see. Our goal is to avoid putting responsibility on you for resolving the situation. We aim to enable you to enjoy and participate in the conference by exploring with you what could change to make this possible.
4. As much as possible, you will be supported to participate in the conference
We know the emotional and practical costs of raising concerns can be significant. Raising a concern does not and will not affect your valued position as a participant. Simply having a concerned raised against them will also not affect a person’s valued position as a participant.
5. Sometimes independent intervention is helpful
We have identified a neutral party who can offer mediation for this conference, either involving you directly or acting as your liaison. Mediation can offer restorative justice; at the same time mediation may not always be appropriate. We will explore these options with you.
6. We reserve the right to revoke our invitation to attend at any time
The primary aim of this conference is to ensure constructive dialogue and knowledge-sharing between attendees. If we become aware of any evidence that participants are violating our code of conduct we will take the steps outlined below to assess the evidence and find a way forward.
B. Practical Steps
When we receive a complaint the organising committee will follow these steps:
- Discuss with the complainant what outcome they would like. If the outcome the complainant wants does not affect other attendees’ right to attend and is possible for the organising committee to accommodate immediately (for example, providing support to attend the conference), then this will be implemented.
- If the outcome the complainant wishes for relies on adjudication of evidence, the organizing committee will ask for evidence from the complainant.
- Members of an independent mediation team will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether the code of conduct has been violated. If this is the case, the decision is made whether to suggest mediation or whether to withdraw the invitation to attend. This decision depends in part on the wishes of the complainant, and in part on the nature of the evidence that we have received.
- If the complainant is willing to participate in mediation as a way forward and the nature of the complaint is such that it does not put other conference attendees at risk, the organizing committee will first ask the complainant and subject of the complaint whether they are willing to enter into this process. If they agree, then the mediator (who is not on the organizing committee and will have no knowledge of the complaint) will contact them and meet or talk with each of them separately and if possible agree upon a way forward.
- If it appears that other attendees to the conference will be likely to be effectively excluded by allowing another attendee to participate, then the organising committee will balance the right to attend of the complainant(s) with the right to attend of those against whom concerns are being raised. In these situations, if we have evidence that (an) attendee/s has violated the code of conduct, then the decision to withdraw their invitation might be made in order to make sure that others are not excluded.
- If the evidence is inconclusive or requires corroboration, we will approach the complainant and ask for their permission to share the evidence with the subject of the complaint in order to test the evidence. If this is granted, the evidence will be shared with the subject of the complaint who will then have the opportunity to respond. If this is not granted, then options for ways forward will be discussed with the complainant, including mediation, no-contact agreements, or other options as suggested by the complainant.
- This decision will be communicated in writing to the complainant and the subject of the complaint. The subject of the complaint has the right to know the grounds on which this decision is made, which may involve seeing the evidence for the complaint; the respondent needs to have enough information to be able to respond to the complaint. A balance will be made between protecting complainants and allowing the subject of the complaint to respond.