Sassafras Tech Collective Code of Conduct
These agreements established by our community guide all Sassafras spaces (meetings, emails, online chats, Sassy Hour, social events, etc.) The intention of these agreements is to ensure workers respect each other and put anti-oppressive theory into practice when we interact with one another.
- Each person matters. Everyone is welcome to contribute.
You belong to this community and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and productive. Our team is a community and our actions should reflect building community and making everyone feel welcome to contribute. If you have a resource that might help someone on the team, please share it. If you have a concern, please bring it up. Each individual person adds something important to our community. When everyone feels welcome, we benefit from people bringing their whole selves to the work we do and the community we are building.
- We can't be articulate all the time.
Often people feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of "messing up" or stumbling over their words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if you can't be as articulate as you'd like.
- Move up, move up.
If you're someone who tends to not speak a lot, please move up into a role of speaking more. If you tend to speak a lot, please move up into a role of listening more and allowing time for those who tend to take longer to prepare their words. This is a twist on the more commonly heard "step up, step back." The "up/up" confirms that in both experiences, growth is happening. (You don't go "back" by learning to be a better listener.) Saying "move" instead of "step" recognizes that not everyone can step.
- Be aware of internalized power structures.
When evaluating and analyzing the words, actions, and credentials of co-workers and applicants, take the time to recognize if any proposed response or action may perpetuate power structures that are in place. Structures such as white supremacy, anti-blackness, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism can all come into play when communicating with and evaluating others, regardless of our intentions, education, or political beliefs. We are each unlearning problematic and oppressive ways of thinking. We each can learn more and educate ourselves about oppression.
- Educate yourself.
Don't rely on people from marginalized groups to educate you about their oppression (especially if someone claims that something you have done or said was hurtful or oppressive). Instead, do some research, consult Sassafras resources, or talk to other people not from that group who you suspect might have some knowledge to share. Do this proactively and regularly, not just when there is an issue. Think about the oppressions listed in the Sassafras vision statement and consider which ones you know the least about and focus on them.
- Communicate with compassion.
We value healthy, nonviolent communication and creating an environment where as many people as possible feel heard and respected. Certain types of communication are not acceptable, including: use of slurs, name-calling, slamming things/doors, throwing things, and yelling/raised voices. These actions may cause others to feel scared, unsafe, triggered, or uncomfortable and are counterproductive to safe space. Harassment in any form is unacceptable, and further information on harassing behaviors can be found in the "harassment" section below.
- Use anti-oppressive language
While targeted slurs and name-calling are never acceptable, some words, especially slurs referring to marginalized communities, can cause harm even when being discussed in an otherwise appropriate context. We recognize that communities and individuals can have different needs and complex relationships with the language used to describe them and that reclamation, cultural background and re-appropriation can further complicate what language is considered hurtful. In light of this, and in the interest of creating a comfortable space for all, we ask the following:
- Before engaging in a discussion on or involving slurs or other potentially harmful language, make sure that participants and bystanders are aware of and consent to being present for that discussion.
- Avoid using or mentioning slurs in their uncensored form. In speech, for example, prefer making euphemistic references ("the z word"), or in text replacing letters with symbols (z*******). If you are asked to clarify your meaning, do so privately or give appropriate warnings beforehand.
- When someone requests that we not use a particular word or phrase because it is hurtful or triggering, make a sincere effort to accommodate that need.
Being able to name privilege can be an important part of safety and comfort for the marginalized. We recognize that names for privileged groups, such as 'cis' or 'white', while they may cause discomfort, are not oppressive and do not have the same effect as slurs against marginalized groups.
- Caring for ourselves and each other is important.
If you are running low on energy, stressed, must attend to physical needs or otherwise need to take a break, please communicate your needs with teammates and take the time you need. If a teammate communicates a need for time or space, acknowledge and respect those needs, including during meetings.
- Make your concerns known.
While talking about conflict can be hard, we are all expected to bring concerns to light instead of letting them fester. If you have a concern or a conflict, talk about it with someone. If you are a provisional member, talk to your buddy. Otherwise, talk to someone you trust. Conflict is a normal part of working together. We are all expected to do our best to deal with it.
- Address personal conflict outside of meetings first, if possible.
If you are having some feelings of hurt, resentment, anger, discomfort, etc. towards a teammate, please try to address those feelings or issues with that person outside of a group meeting. If you do not feel comfortable bringing it up with that person, talk it through with someone else on the team that you trust.
- Ask permission. Respect consent.
Before posting information online about a teammate or disclosing sensitive information about your teammate(s) outside of a Sassafras space, please request that individual's permission first. Examples of sensitive information may include things like photos, legal names, their personal stories, location, etc.
We are committed to providing a harassment-free workplace for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of community members in any form.
- Offensive comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.
- Unwelcome comments regarding a person's lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.
- Deliberate misgendering or use of 'dead' or rejected names.
- Gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behavior in spaces where they're not appropriate.
- Physical contact and simulated physical contact (eg, textual descriptions like "*hug*" or "*backrub*") without consent or after a request to stop.
- Violence or threats of violence.
- Incitement of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm.
- Deliberate intimidation.
- Stalking or following.
- Harassing photography or recording, including logging online activity for harassment purposes.
- Sustained disruption of discussion.
- Unwelcome sexual attention.
- Pattern of inappropriate social contact, such as requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others.
- Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease.
- Deliberate "outing" of any aspect of a person's identity without their consent except as necessary to protect vulnerable people from intentional abuse.
- Publication of non-harassing private communication.
Reporting and Enforcement
In cases of harassment (see the above section for the definition of harassment) a person may report the behavior to a team member they trust. If a report is made, the incident should be brought before the members at a meeting at the reporting person's discretion. We take harassing behavior very seriously, and incidents may be grounds to call an expulsion hearing in accordance with the bylaws and operating rules.
Acknowledgements and Resources
- Infiltration: How the values of oppressive systems tend to arise in co-ops (and what we can do about it) by Aorta Collective.
- AORTA Resource Zine by AORTA Collective.
- "We can't be articulate all the time" and "move up, move up" are taken from this resource.
- Unity Statements by Michigan Women of Color Collective.
- Part of "Communicate with compassion" is adapted from "Give trigger warnings."
- "Alternatives to using ableist slurs" by Is This Ableism?
- "Ableism/Language" by Lydia Brown
- Community Anti-Harassment: Policy by Geek Feminism
- "Harassment" section is based on this resource.
- "Foundations of NVC" by The Center for Nonviolent Communication
- "HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community" by The Ada Initiative
- "Code of Conduct evaluations" by Geek Feminism
- "TODO Group and Open Source Codes of Conduct" by Nikki Murray
Code of Conduct by Sassafras Tech Collective is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.