Unison: Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Handling Misconduct
Please be advised: Your attendance and participation in any Unison events or forums implies that you have read, understand, and agree to the policies described in this document.
Examples of Unison events include the livestream events as well as other one-offs and collaborations we may be involved with.
We care deeply about the health, safety, and comfort of attendees at our events and members of our community. To help achieve this, we ask all of our members and guests to read, understand, and share this document. This document covers conduct at our events, conduct outside our events that may impact participation in the community, and conduct in our online community forums. This document also describes the guidelines and processes we will follow when we deal with violations of this policy.
Working together to create a community of positive energy is at the core of what we do. We seek to create trust, peace, love, unity, and respect and thus we expect all words expressed and actions taken in this community to be in harmony with these goals. We are a passionate community often with strong feelings, so naturally, there will be conflict from time to time. The goal is not to be free of conflict, but rather, to engage with each other as positively and respectfully as possible, and work to resolve conflict when it emerges.
Community Principles and Acceptable Behavior
We are dedicated to creating an environment—in person and online—that nurtures mutual respect among all participants by providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance and challenges, race, or religion. This list is in no way meant to be exclusive or complete, but indicative of the inclusivity and diversity we strive to support. Here are some important values and guidelines to keep in mind:
- Enthusiastic participation: We all understand that “no means no,” but sometimes being quiet and still also means “no.” Or even saying no initially, followed by a grudging or hesitant yes after being “convinced” to participate can mean “no.” There are lots of nonverbal cues that indicate someone may not be into what’s happening. Rather than relying on your interpretation of nonverbal cues, aim for enthusiastic consent. Yes means yes! Pay attention to your partner(s) and keep checking in, because a yes can turn into a no, too. Make sure their verbal and physical cues match. Consent should be mutual and continuous.
- Respectfulness, empathy, and compassion: This is a community where people may experiment with shifting and expanding their own boundaries. Maybe even you! So be aware that when pushing your own boundaries, you may push into someone else’s. In some cases, crossing another person’s boundaries may cause them discomfort or harm, whether you intended to or not.
When someone isn’t sober, even enthusiastic consent (or perceived enthusiastic consent) presents risks, both legally and emotionally, potentially for either or all participants. If you are interacting with someone whom you just met or don’t know well, consider keeping your interactions within PG/PG-13 territories until you’ve interacted with them sober, and you’re sure you are on the same page. Remember that if you’re also not sober, your ability to observe another person’s boundaries and cues may be compromised. And if someone you do know suddenly acts out of character, check in with them and try to assess what’s going on. It’s better to take time to be sure than to cause lasting damage. Similarly, someone who may appear to be acting weird, “creepy,” or nonverbal may indeed not be entirely themselves, and may just need a little direct communication, direction, or a little help. Always feel free to enlist the help of others if you’re unsure or uncomfortable.
While we encourage radical expression within our community, please consider how your expression impacts those around you. Remember, your intent and your impact may not match that of others, and how they respond to the impact.
Online Behavior and Interactive Party Platform Guidelines
- Interactive party platforms may include, but are not limited to: Twitch, Zoom, Discord, Slack, Facebook, and Predella.
- Please practice physical distancing precautions and follow your jurisdiction’s laws and recommendations. We will NOT allow large gatherings to join our interactive party platforms. If we see more than 6 people on your camera, we will ask you to turn it off. Let’s stay safe out there!
- At certain times, we may be broadcasting the interactive party platform stream to other platforms. Note that this will generally be done during performances and an announcement will be made on the interactive party platform prior to beginning the public broadcast.
- Note that we are not able to prevent anyone from recording or screen capturing and sharing the contents of the interactive party platform via a 3rd party app. Since this is a private event, we do not anticipate any issues. However, if this is a concern for you, please disable your video when you join the interactive party platform. Anyone found distributing or posting screenshots of the interactive party platform will be asked to take them down, and potentially blocked from access and not allowed to rejoin.
- Please also note that anything written in the interactive party platform chat could potentially be copied as well, so be mindful of what you write!
- Consent is key to creating a safer space for us to virtually gather. Since you cannot get the consent of everyone on the interactive party platform please refrain from nudity and other behaviors which if the police saw it you might be in trouble. You have no way to get everyone’s consent so just assume no one wants to see it.
- Parental supervision is required for children under age 13
- Be respectful in all of the interactive party platform chats. If you are being rude, disrespectful, or otherwise violating our guidelines, you may be blocked from access immediately and from future gatherings.
What Constitutes Misconduct?
By encouraging radical expression, we invite a diversity of behaviors at our events and trust that our values of enthusiastic participation and respectfulness will help us minimize conflict. However, there are some behaviors which are simply not welcome in our community under any circumstances. These behaviors, described below, constitute misconduct and violation of our code of conduct.
Misconduct is any action that results in:
- A racial, physical, sexual, verbal, and/or emotional attack or action that causes harm on another person.
- Another person having reasonable concerns of not being physically, sexually, or emotionally safe.
Examples of misconduct include:
- Physical, racial and/or sexual harassment or abuse.
- Persistent, unwelcome sexual attention, stalking, or physical contact.
- Abusive and/or derogatory verbal or online comments.
- Deliberate intimidation.
- Discriminatory actions.
- Theft of personal property.
Principles for Handling Allegations of Misconduct
The vast majority of our members and guests are exemplary and amazing. But, even good people can make poor decisions. Situations can arise when individuals become a threat to others or to themselves. As an organization committed to both personal freedom and safety, it falls on us to effectively and humanely assess and manage risks to the community’s well being that arise, and to take action when needed. Accordingly, our Code of Conduct is written to reflect the following values and principles:
- Violence, be it a physical, sexual, verbal, written, and/or emotional, is unacceptable at our events or in our communities. Perpetrators of violence will face consequences both immediate (e.g. ejection from an event in progress) and potentially lasting (e.g. exclusion from future events, report to proper authorities).
- We believe in compassion, healing, and forgiveness. Thus, we treat all parties to an incident with care and concern, as we view compassion for all parties in conflict to be the most healing action and an effective method of de-escalation. This also means that we review exclusions regularly with re-entrance to the community being both possible and desirable.
- We align our policies with the large body of research that argues, statistically, against the prevalence of false accusations of rape. Approaching us to report an incident of sexual misconduct is not an easy thing to do and would not likely be undertaken lightly, capriciously or malevolently. Thus we take these accusations very seriously.
- We are also sensitive to the fact that reporting such incidents places additional and potentially intense stress on the person coming forward to make a report – a person who may already be traumatized. We recognize asking a person in this state to recount their experience of the incident may cause additional harm or damage and that the fear of such an experience could cause an individual to not report the incident. As such, we favor de-escalation, compassion, healing, and harm-reduction techniques in consultation with the parties feeling at risk in order to minimize risk and harm to individuals, and maximize healing, positivity, and growth.
- Because allegations and concerns may have significant implications for individual safety and privacy, we employ discretion when addressing code of conflict issues and respect the privacy of involved parties. We ask that members/attendees who have concerns share those with key members who have been identified/selected/chosen for handling concerns and can help implement next steps. At our events, serious incidents that come to the attention of event staff or volunteers must be reported to the event leadership by the staff/volunteer(s) who received the incident report. If someone has concerns related to situations or incidents that did not occur at one of our own events, yet they believe may have an impact on our community, please contact Unison coordinators or any individual Unison coordinator. The easiest way to reach the Unison coordinators is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- As parties to an incident could have conflict of interest concerns relative to the Unison coordinators, incidents can be reported to any individual coordinator, rather than to the group email address. That coordinator may engage with the parties directly in an attempt to gather information or help mediate a solution. More severe actions, such as withdrawing an invitation to an event or removal from the community, would require a coordinator-wide discussion. Should the Unison coordinators feel that a fellow coordinator has a conflict of interest in the discussion, that coordinator may be recused from discussions of that incident and related decisions.
- At our events, the event leadership may engage in some situation-appropriate inquiry into “what happened” to determine how to best assist anyone who may have been harmed and to assess whether those involved in the incident in question are an active threat to themselves or others. Aside from the practical matter of immediate safety, we are not an investigative body (such as law enforcement) and are governed by the principles of harm reduction and de-escalation, not jurisprudence. Refer to the section How We Handle Conflict and Misconduct for more information.
How We Handle Conflict and Misconduct
Our aim is to create a framework for improving the way we handle conflict within our community, but this is not meant as a substitute for the approaches and resources available to us through other channels. Some misconduct requires the involvement of specialized resources such as medical professionals, mental health professionals, counselors, mediators, or even law enforcement. Accordingly, to the extent that we are able, we strive to direct members in need to find the appropriate resources that are equipped to help where our mandate and infrastructure reach their limits. See External Resources section below for more information.
Addressing conflict and misconduct at Unison events
As a community borne out of a Do-It-Yourself culture, we’ve built an organization capable of providing a ton of fun AND the ability to respond effectively to a wide range of intense situations. Our response capabilities address a wide range of situations — from medical and psychological issues, to aggressive behaviors, conflicts, logistics, and more. If, in your judgement, you have determined it necessary to call 911 rather than availing yourself of the onsite services, please do so or contact a Unison coordinator to do so with you. In cases where that is not required, or if you’re unsure, please follow our standard procedures:
- Should you be involved in or witness any incidents that you would like help in resolving, you may choose to report the incident to an official event staff member at the event. This includes interactive party platform hosts and coordinators. If you do not report the incident at the event, you may still choose to report it to the Unison coordinators after the event.
- If the person to whom the incident is initially reported is not a Unison coordinator, that person should escalate the incident to a Unison coordinator.
- Unison coordinators keep a log of incidents at our events. The name, phone number and email address of all parties and witnesses to an incident will be recorded, along with a factual description of what is known about the particulars of the incident. The Unison coordinator on duty is responsible for recording the specific details of the incident and submitting a report. This log and its entries are kept confidential.
- When approached with a code of conduct issue, our staff is expected to follow a proven program for conflict resolution called HEART. We have chosen HEART as a teachable, repeatable method to help us minimize harm, decrease risk, preserve relationships and maximize the opportunity for justice and resolution. Should you ever need to bring an incident or risk to our attention, you should expect us to:
- Hear: We will hear what you have to say, listen without interrupting, ask questions to clarify, restate what was provided, and use positive non-verbal body language.
- Empathize: We will be sensitive to your experience, be understanding, and treat all parties involved with respect.
- Apologize: We make sure you hear from us that we are sorry you have had the experience you are communicating to us.
- Respond: We will take ownership of finding a resolution consistent with our Code of Conduct, ask what you would like to be done given available and achievable options, and check to ensure you feel safe.
- Thank: We will make sure you hear our gratitude for trusting us to help you and being a good community citizen, take action, determine if someone needs to leave the party, follow up with the Unison coordinators, and complete an incident report.
- Anyone deemed an active threat by a Unison coordinator will be removed from the event. Additionally, when a coordinator determines there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct that warrants immediate ejection from a physical event, they will make that determination and take those steps with appropriate delays should inebriation of a driver prevent safe, immediate removal.
- If there are mutually aggressive parties in a clear and serious incident, both parties may be ejected.
- If an incident is not deemed clear or serious, the leadership team can decide on appropriate courses of action in consultation with the aggrieved parties.
- All decisions are ultimately at the discretion of the on-site event senior leadership.
- As Unison is an organization of participating communities and crews, any incident we review will also be forwarded to the relevant parties’ communities.
Addressing conflict and misconduct outside of Unison events
While our Code of Conduct is meant to safeguard the welfare of members and guests at our events and while participating in our communication channels, we understand that events that take place outside of our events may suggest a risk to safety at future Unison events. If you feel the need to bring the Unison coordinators’ attention to events that may constitute an active threat at future Unison events, we invite you to do so. Understand that our ability to provide remedies to conflict extends only so far as the management of our events and communication channels. Nonetheless, if you would like to raise a concern with us, please do so by emailing email@example.com.
Participating in the various online channels that the Unison community uses to communicate and organize is a privilege. We expect that participants in our email groups and social media channels will observe the same rules of respectfulness and empathy that apply at our events. Consequently, anonymous, sexually or racially abusive, or toxic communication in Unison electronic communications channels is strictly prohibited. Failure to adhere to our Code of Conduct on these channels may result in your removal from these lists and forums. Should you experience conflict in our communication channels, we invite you to address less serious issues directly with the parties concerned. If that does not restore compliant behavior, affected parties should try contacting the forum moderators first, or failing that, the Unison coordinators.