MCC Safer Space Policy

Passed by MCC Board of Directors 6/3/15; Amended by Board of Directors 4/5/17; Replaces text of the Harassment and Abusive Conduct Policy (passed 11/14/12)

MCC Safer Space Policy

Safer Space Policy
Madison Community Cooperative (MCC) is committed to maintaining a positive environment for its members, officers, staff, affiliates, guests, family, and friends. And to protecting the rights of its members to freely express their ideas, regardless of their popularity or merit. All individuals have the right to enjoy an environment where they can express themselves fully, free from all forms of conduct that are harassing, discriminatory, abusive, or oppressive. MCC strives to create spaces in our houses, meetings, and gatherings of all kinds which are safer than those in our society at large.

Our goal is to hold people accountable for harassing, discriminatory, or abusive language or actions, help them to recognize how their behavior affects those around them, and for them to change their actions accordingly. Harassment based on, but not limited to: racism, sexism, ageism, sizeism, classism, ableism, transphobia, and heterosexism are among the things unwelcome in MCC. As a last resort, we reserve the right to pursue removal individuals from the committee or space in question, or pursue their removal from MCC as a whole as per MCC policy.

We are committed to providing egalitarian processes, procedures, and meeting spaces, and to empowering all people within MCC. We are explicitly committed to fighting systems of social supremacy and privilege at all levels within MCC: institutional, interpersonal, and internalized.

Definition of Safer Space:
“A safer space is a supportive, non-threatening environment that encourages open-mindedness, respect, a willingness to learn from others, as well as physical and mental safety. It is a space that is critical of the power structures that affect our everyday lives, and where power dynamics, backgrounds, and the effects of our behavior on others are prioritized.” – Coalition for Safer Spaces​" 

Definition of Harassment:
Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct or discrimination based on race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, sex, arrest or conviction record, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, membership in the military reserve or use or nonuse of lawful products away from work, or any other protected class. This also includes sexual harassment, defined as unwelcome, severe, and pervasive verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Definition of Discrimination:
The act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment, or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of their race, color, creed, national origin, age, gender, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, military service, use of lawful products away from work, disability, past or present membership in a previous or existing house, or any other defining characteristic.

Definition of Social Supremacy:
Social supremacies are ideologies that claim certain members of society are superior to other members of society. White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to people of color; male supremacy is the belief that males are superior to non-males; many other forms of supremacy exist. Supremacy manifests itself when people willfully use privilege, whether or not they vocalize or admit the ideology, which they use to put themselves above others.

Definition of Abusive Conduct:
Conduct with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to the organization’s legitimate interests.  Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work or housing. This conduct can be verbal, physical or communicated in writing or electronically. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Threatening or intimidating behavior or words
- Obscenities or profanities directed towards an individual or group
- Degrading a person or a group
- Taunting, jeering, mocking or humiliating another person
- Screaming and/or yelling at or around others
- Insulting someone or their performance,especially in the presence of others [note: criticism of someone’s work is not the same as insulting their work. An insult may be factual, but it is pejorative and not constructive]
- Endangering the safety of an individual or individuals”

Process for Addressing Violations:

The following actions may be taken by a person who feels violated by an action or statement they witness, whether or not they were the target of the abusive behavior:
- Address the violation one-on-one, if possible.
- Talk to someone else about it, and ask them if they’re willing to address it directly with the other person.
- Set up a time to talk about it in a group. Finding someone to facilitate the conversation is often helpful.
- Bring it up at an MCC meeting, whether it’s Board, Membership Committee, etc.
- Request that MCC follow the process for non-rent contract terminations. See relevant contract termination policy in the MCC policy manual.
- Bring the issue to MCC’s grievance committee, and address it through a grievance meeting. See relevant grievance policies in the MCC policy manual.

Any member, officer, employee staff person, or guest of MCC who experiences harassment or other violation of this policy is encouraged to follow this process for addressing violations. They may do so if the violation occurred in an MCC space, at an MCC event, or outside of MCC by a member of MCC. Whenever possible we encourage the use of earlier steps, like speaking to the offender one-on-one, before moving to more public or harsher actions. This respects the general good intent of members of our organization, and addresses small problems on an interpersonal level where lasting change is more likely to occur. We do recognize, however, that some violations are so egregious that serious action must be taken immediately, and the actions listed are not “steps” which must be completed in order, but are all immediately available if needed.

When addressing  harassing, abusive, or discriminatory conduct, everyone is encouraged to take an approach centered around the target of the behavior. This includes consulting the affected individual before becoming involved in the conflict, asking them how they would prefer the issue to be handled, and allowing them to define their experience of unacceptable conduct.

Retaliation and Abuse of Authority:

Madison Community Cooperative will not tolerate any form of retaliation directed against a member, officer, or staff person who complains in good faith about harassment and/or verbal abuse or participates in any MCC sanctioned investigation involving harassment or verbal abuse.  MCC will also not tolerate any abuse of authority, which is the improper use of power or influence to endanger an individual’s job or living situation, undermine performance, threaten economic livelihoods, or in any way interfere with or influence a career or living situation.

Abuse of Safer Space Policy:

Using this, or any other MCC policy in an abusive manner or to falsely accuse someone is itself considered a violation of the safer space policy.

Display of Safe Space Policies

A copy of the MCC Safer Space Policy shall be present at all board meetings and general membership meetings, and have a direct link on the MCC homepage. The MCC Safer Space Policy or another safe space policy will be displayed at all MCC houses. The Membership Officer, Membership Committee, and House Membership Coordinators will work together to help houses craft and display these safe space policies.