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Member Handbook (20210913)
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Maine

Democratic Socialists of America

Member Handbook

Table of Contents

Revision History

Introduction

Communication Channels Primer

Code of Conduct

Harassment & Grievance Policy

Harassment & Grievance Appendix

Expense Policy

Local Pass-the-Hat Program

Branch Dues Sharing Policy

Data Security Policy

Membership List Policy

Recording

Dues Waiver Program

Priority Campaign Model Policy

Coalition Policy

Community Building Policy

Standing Rules

Revision History

Revision

Date

Description

1

2019-12-05

Combined existing policy documents into one handbook for reference

2

2019-12-17

12/16 GM approved updates to Branch Dues Share policy to remove payment method

3

2019-12-29

Dues Waiver program adopted by SC and added to handbook

4

2020-9-14

Branch Dues share changed from shares to 70%/30% split with branches sharing a bank account.

5

2020-12-23

Added introduction (Wes P)

6

2021-1-26

Harassment and Grievance Policy amended. Community Building policy added. (Aaron B)

7

2021-02-08

Data Security Policy added, Comms policy and Press release policy removed. (Aaron B)

8

2021-09-13

Code of Conduct added (Aaron B)

Introduction

This handbook is a collection of Maine DSA’s policies, ratified by the chapter, that guide how the chapter operates. These are different from our bylaws in that they can be suspended by a membership vote and do not require the same amount of time before ratification.

Basically, they’re a bit easier to change as the need arises.

Communication Channels Primer

This primer is maintained by the Communications Working Group, and will be updated as needed to reflect current practices.

Forms

Requesting access to Communication Channels

Related Documents

Community Building

Data Security

Membership List Policy

DSA Chapter Tech Tools Guidelines

Maine DSA Code of Conduct

Maine DSA aims to build an organization where political disagreements serve as productive contributions to our collective discourse and are a source of learning, not strife. Some strategies for learning across differences include: emphasizing our common values and goals, asking before making assumptions, and seeking feedback from those you don’t agree with. Socialists should hold themselves and one another to high standards of decency and understanding.

In that vein, all Maine DSA members are expected to adhere to a certain minimal standard of comradely behavior, both online and in person. The Code of Conduct is intended to create guidelines for situations when Maine DSA leadership, moderators, etc. must remove people from those spaces until they can take accountability.

This code of conduct applies to all:

  1. Maine DSA virtual spaces including email listservs, slack workspaces, Discord, WhatsApp groups, Signal groups, or other methods of virtual communication.
  2. Maine DSA meetings / events including branches, working groups or other bodies with elected leadership recognized by the Steering Committee
  3. External forums such as Twitter
  4. Direct messages (text, WhatsApp, Signal, etc)
  5. Other in person activities

Expected Behavior

Unacceptable Behavior

Harassment

Harassment and abusive behavior can be in-person, physical, verbal, online, or via any form of communication. Harassment includes and is not limited to slurs, hate speech, unwanted sexual advances, doxxing, intimidation, stalking, and inappropriate physical contact.

Harassment will not be tolerated and will be grounds for serious and immediate action as laid out in the Maine DSA Grievance procedure and Article III, Section 2 of our Constitution.

Disrupting internal discussion spaces

We ask our membership to refrain from intentional or repeated disruption of internal discussion spaces. Examples may include, interrupting a meeting multiple times, raising issues outside of the scope of the discussion after being asked to refrain, or obstructing meaningful discussion.

Photos/Videos

Ask everybody in the picture if they agree to be photographed or filmed.

For group shots, ask if anyone wants to opt-out before taking the photo.

Handling Chapter Resources and Info

Chapter, branch, or campaign funds, member lists or any other chapter resources should not be used in ways that are not authorized by the relevant body. Examples include unauthorized use of chapter member lists, websites, social media accounts, or funds to promote a cause or project that has not been authorized by leaders responsible for maintaining that list or funds.

A one-off social media post that has not been authorized does not amount to misuse of chapter resources. Repeated use of social media to promote a personal cause, or use of email lists or chapter funds to promote a project that has not been authorized by the relevant body would be a misuse of chapter resources.

Misrepresenting the Chapter

Speaking on behalf of the chapter, a branch, or a campaign without first consulting the relevant leadership body can damage the reputation of Maine DSA and our campaigns. An example of a violation would be to suggest that a candidate or issue campaign has been endorsed by the chapter when it has not been endorsed.

Conflicts of Interests

I will disclose any financial, personal, family, or close intimate relationship interest in matters of official DSA business which may impact on the work of DSA.

If I wish to keep any personal relationship private, I will not participate in any DSA committee, working group, or other DSA-related interaction or work where my private relationship, if known, would give the appearance that I was favoring (or disfavoring) the person with whom I am in a relationship.

Code of Conduct Violations & Taking Accountability

When Code of Conduct violations arise on the committee or campaign level, elected leaders of each space are encouraged to reach out to the disruptive member directly, have a conversation in good faith around what their issues are, propose better alternatives to achieving those goals, and ask them to refrain from continued disruptions. If the behavior does not stop, it is within the rights of elected leaders to take action up to temporary or permanent removal from that space.

 

Return to the space is either at the moderators’ / leaders’ discretion or by the member completing an accountability process facilitated by the Steering Committee. If the member believes they were treated unfairly in the process, they may file a grievance.

For conduct happening outside of DSA spaces a full grievance procedure is required, and may be initiated by the Steering Committee. If the member believes they were treated unfairly in the process, they may appeal to the National Harassment and Grievance Officer.


Code of Conduct Appendix

This section is non-enforceable, and does not need to be ratified by membership.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between “Code of Conduct” and “Community Agreements”?

Community Agreements are tailored to a given space. For example some meetings might have language interpreters, and there could be a community agreement about slowing down, and looking to the interpreter for setting the pace. Or a group could have a community agreement not to discuss zoning law. The point of community agreements is to set expectations for how the discussion will proceed. Different discussions may require different agreements or expectations.

A Code of Conduct is a set of expectations for members of our organization, and guests in our spaces. It applies outside of any given discussion space, and therefore needs to be more broadly understood.

Why a Code of Conduct?

We would prefer to live in a society where we do not need Codes of Conduct. However, Codes of Conduct are essential to establish spaces that are different from – and more inclusive than – general society. If you don’t set up your own rules, you implicitly endorse those prevalent in society – including the unwritten ones – many of which we recognize as unfair to many people. When privileges are not explicitly addressed by the ethos of a space, the burden of education will often be placed upon the people who are living the oppressions. Moreover, since we still perform – consciously or unconsciously – behaviours that have oppressive potential (i.e.patriarchal, racist, sexist, capitalist, (neo)colonialist, etc.), it is essential to reflect on our privileges and on the ways in which they have an impact on our lives and the lives of others.

A code of conduct can help do just that: to bring awareness, consciousness, reflexivity and ultimately change.

Suggestions for Productive Debate

DSA is a space for learning and growing. An onboarding ramp for radical politics. We are a fast growing organization with a membership at different levels of political development. While we want to be welcoming we must also develop our skills at principled discussion and debate to succeed as a democratic organization. Bettering our conduct in how we treat each other in debate will help grow and strengthen our organization.

Harassment & Grievance Policy

Ratified by the Chapter on 2019-07-15

Amended by Chapter on 2021-1-24

Article I: Mission Statement

Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) is working to win a socialist world. To build it, we need to create systems and center values vastly unlike those that exist today. A key part of this project will be a justice system that can provide a restorative alternative to the state.

It must clearly detail a democratic process to resolve conflict. The goal of such a process is to help make SMDSA a safe and just space. We must be thorough and firm in response to all risks to member safety. However, we don't aim to simply punish those who transgress. We aim to engage in a larger process that builds trust, fosters good faith, and strengthens our community.

This process will be long and may produce new outcomes as we learn what does or does not work. This code is not meant as a rigid set of rules, but as a living agreement open to trial and revision.

Article II: Overview

SMDSA is a community built out of relationships. By keeping those relationships open and accountable we are a stronger community. As a democratic organization, it's imperative to be able to work through conflict with each other in a comradely way. Few of us have experience for what it means to be in relationship with each other in this way. The hope is the Harassment and Grievance Policy (HGP) will help you navigate these new relationships and find accountability for harm done. The HGP provides steps for setting up mediated conversations if you feel safe doing so. There are times, however, when communication fails, when the harm is too great, or a member fears for their safety. For these moments a grievance should be filed that requires no meeting of the accused. We must always work towards providing a safe space for our membership, as well as hold ourselves accountable to others.

The Harassment and Grievance Officers (HGO’s) act as neutral investigators. They start their investigation once a grievance is submitted, collect statements from involved parties, and make an assessment of the credibility of the grievance. They then submit a report, recommending a remedy if necessary, to the Steering Committee (SC). The Steering Committee acts as judge of the grievance and has final say on the remedy or relief chosen.

Article III: Definitions

For purposes of this policy:

Member refers to anyone on the membership lists received from National DSA. Paying dues is not required for protection from harassment.

Grievance refers to a complaint submitted to this process.

Grievant refers to those who submit or are seeking to submit a grievance.

Accused refers to those whom the grievance is about.

Harassment will refer to all harassment, discrimination, misconduct, and abuse.

Mediated Conversation is a voluntary conversation between the grievant and the accused with one (1) or more 3rd-party mediators guiding the conversation. The goal being a working agreement that both parties consent to. This video lays out the format for such conversations.

Article IV: Prohibited Behavior

This policy covers all harassment between SMDSA members, wherever it may take place. It also covers all harassment in SMDSA spaces. These spaces may be physical or virtual, public or private, formal or informal.

Harassment will not be tolerated. Any member who believes this code has been broken may submit a grievance through the process defined below.

Section 1: Harassment is meant to include:

  1. Any harassment based on identity. This includes sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, profession, immigration status, mental illness, or neurotypicality.
  2. Any conduct or pattern of behavior that makes others feel unsafe or unwell. This includes unwelcome attention; inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, jokes, or presentation of images; violence; threats of violence; stalking; intimidation; sustained disruptions after requests to stop.
  3. Any misconduct that implies submission to or acceptance of harassing behavior is required to be a member of SMDSA.
  4. Any conduct that creates a hostile setting that harms a person’s capacity to organize within SMDSA.
  5. Any other conduct that negatively affects a person’s experience with SMDSA.

Article V: Grievant

Section 1: Right of Conversation

The recommended procedure is that the grievant should have a conversation with an HGO before filing a grievance. Filing a grievance involves a fair bit of writing. We hope a conversation will allow members to process how they’re feeling, and have clear expectations of what the Harassment & Grievance Process (HGP) entails.

  1. Initiating Contact. The grievant may request contact with HGO’s using the form found here. Grievant should expect a response from HGO’s in seven (7) days, though the actual scheduled conversation may be farther out than that.
  2. Conversation Guidance
  1. Grievant will provide the name of the person conducting harassment.
  2. Grievant will detail the events that have led to the conversation to the detail of their choosing.
  3. Grievant may describe what they would like to see happen.
  4. Grievant may ask what options there are within and outside of HGP.
  5. Grievant may ask for the grievance process to be explained to them to set expectations.
  6. Grievant may ask what helps prove credibility.
  7. Grievant will decide on next steps.
  1. Next Steps. The grievant decides on the next steps to take following the conversation. The actions may include:
  1. The grievant will commit to having a conversation with the accused.
  2. Ask the HGO or an HGO not present to talk to the accused.
  3. Ask the HGO to arrange a mediated conversation between the grievant and the accused.
  4. Ask the HGO for help in finding another member to support the grievant with filing a grievance.
  5. The grievant will commit to filing a grievance.
  1. Reporting Requirements. During the conversation the HGO shall take notes, which can be finalized afterwards. These notes will include the following:
  1. A description of the incident or conduct that spurred the conversation.
  2. The questions the grievant asked, and the answers provided.
  3. The next steps decided by the grievant.

The report must first be submitted to the grievant for review and any necessary correction. The grievant has fourteen (14) days to do so, before the report is then submitted to the other HGO’s.

  1. Repeated Visits. These conversations are meant to organize thoughts, and lay out options available. These conversations should lead to a commitment of action or change. They are not meant to be just a venting session. If a grievant is seeking a second conversation about the same subject they should provide details about actions taken to fulfill their next steps.

Section 2: Mediated Conversation

If a mediated conversation or accountability process is requested then the HGO’s may ask SC members for assistance in gathering, as needed: facilitators, community members, and support people to move the process forward. The HGO’s will not be responsible for facilitating community accountability processes themselves, unless they truly are the best person for that role and have the capacity.

  1. Mediated conversations are voluntary. They only work if both the grievant and the accused agree to meet, feel safe in doing so, and commit to finding a workable agreement.
  2. While voluntary, the only recourse after a refusal to meet is filing a grievance. A responsibility of a democratic organization and community is allowing ourselves to be held accountable to others, especially to other members within.

Section 3: Filing Grievance

The grievant may file a grievance using this form here.

  1. Support Partner. It is recommended that the grievant find another member to support them through the grievance process. If the grievant selects a support partner, they will be included in all communication with HGO’s or SC. If the grievant has trouble in finding a support partner, they may ask the HGO’s or SC for assistance in selecting one.
  2. Criteria for Immediate Relief. A grievant may request immediate relief if one of the following criteria is met:
  1. The accused is alleged a danger to the grievant or other members when at chapter social events.
  2. The accused is alleged to hamper democracy or open discussion within general meeting or committee work.
  1. Process for Immediate Relief. When a grievant requests immediate relief, either the HGO’s or the SC must reach unanimous consensus to approve the immediate relief. Grievances marked for immediate relief will be sent on to the SC when received. HGO’s or SC have seven (7) days to decide. Each body will provide a written reason to both the grievant and accused upon deciding.
  2. Forms of Immediate Relief. Each criteria only allows for specific relief.
  1. An accused found to be a possible danger at chapter social events will refrain from attending chapter social events until the grievance is resolved.
  2. An accused found to be possibly hampering democracy will refrain from attending said general meeting or committee where conduct occurred until the grievance is resolved. If accused is chair, a SC member will act as interim chair.

Section 4: Grievance Timeline

The grievance timeline will be as follows:

  1. The grievant will fill out the form on the website or email HGO@smdsa.org.
  2. Within seven (7) days of receiving a grievance, an HGO will contact the grievant in writing to acknowledge receipt of the grievance. The HGO will also contact the accused in writing to request their response.
  3. The accused will have seven (7) days after notification to respond in writing.
  4. The grievant will have the option to respond to the accused. If they decide to, they will have seven (7) days to complete the response.
  5. HGOs will have fourteen (14) days to complete the investigation and make a recommendation to the Steering Committee.
  6. The Steering Committee will resolve the grievance within seven (7) days of receiving a recommendation from the HGOs.
  7. The Steering Committee will inform the grievant and the accused of their decision within seven (7) days of the decision.

Section 5: Extensions

When working on a grievance not marked for immediate relief, the HGO’s or SC may request an extension of time only with the approval of the other body. SC approves the HGO’s extension, and the HGO’s approves the SC extension.

Section 6: Process

All parties are urged to refrain from discussing the process on social media, Discord, or with others.

Section 7: Recusal

HGOs shall recuse themselves from any grievance in which they do not feel they can remain impartial.

Section 8: Removal

If either the grievant or the accused feel that an HGO may not be impartial, they may request that the HGO be removed from the grievance. The other HGOs will review the request and decide whether to remove the HGO from the grievance or not. If there is a request to remove all HGOs from a grievance, the Steering Committee will review the request and decide. If either the grievant or the accused is a member of the Steering Committee or an HGO, they will automatically be removed from the grievance.

Section 9: Retaliation

This policy prohibits retaliation against any individual involved in the grievance process in any way, including the grievant and the accused. Retaliation includes threats, intimidation, reprisals, or other adverse actions. If any individual believes there has been retaliation, they may inform the HGOs. The HGOs will decide whether to factor this information into the original grievance or treat it as a new grievance.

Article VI: Harassment & Grievance Officers

Section 1: Elections

SMDSA shall elect three (3) HGO’s. HGO seats will cover one (1) year, be elected annually, and observe no term limits. HGOs shall not also be members of the Steering Committee.

The election process for HGOs will be as follows:

  1. Members may be nominated by other members or may nominate themselves. Accepting a nomination makes the member a candidate.
  2. Candidates must be published to members at least thirty (30) days prior to election.
  3. Prior to election, members may communicate concerns about a candidate in writing to either the Steering Committee or the incumbent HGOs at their discretion. The identity of members who raise concerns will remain confidential. If the concerns are determined to be serious enough, the member’s candidacy may be revoked.
  4. For the election, members will vote to approve each candidate individually. Candidates must receive at least ninety percent (90%) approval to continue.
  5. If after the approval round there are more candidates than vacancies, there will be a run-off ranked-choice election. Otherwise, all candidates will be seated.

Section 2: Substitute HGO’s

If when a grievance is filed and there are less than three HGO’s seated, or an HGO is unavailable to work on a given grievance then a substitute HGO may be appointed by the Steering Committee for the duration of the grievance. Candidates for Substitute HGO’s must be Standing Committee chairs or Steering Committee Members. If a Steering Committee member is appointed they may not vote on the remedy. Rights to removal still stand.

Section 3: HGO Responsibilities

  1. Follow up on requests for conversation and schedule promptly said conversations. Only one (1) need to attend these conversations, though more may attend if they wish.
  2. Receive, acknowledge receipt of, and archive grievances;
  3. Notify the SC of the grievance when initially filed.
  4. Contact the accused to notify them of the accusations, request their written response, and archive any written response;
  5. Notify the grievant of the accused response, provide them an opportunity to respond, and archive any written response;
  6. Conduct any necessary investigation of the claim; and
  7. Present their findings to the Steering Committee with a written report and, if necessary, a recommendation for disciplinary action.
  8. If necessary, HGO(s) may recommend that parties do not contact each other for the duration of the investigative process.
  9. Maintain and edit the Harassment & Grievance Appendix as they see fit.
  10. With the help of the SC, the HGO’s may plan and organize workshops about conflict resolution or harassment during their term.
  11. Compile a yearly report made available to membership that details:
  1. How many conversations were requested
  2. How many grievances were filed
  3. How many were found credible
  4. How many remedies are still ongoing
  5. Have any remedies failed
  6. Any recommended changes for making the reporting system more effective

Section 4: Standard of Credibility

HGO’s and SC will find the factual allegation in a report is “credible” if it more-likely-than-not occurred.

Section 5: Remedies & Relief

The HGOs may decide that a grievance is not credible. In this event, they may recommend either no action or a voluntary, informal conflict resolution process. A majority of all seated members of the Steering Committee must also decide if a grievance is credible. If a grievance is credible, the Steering Committee may take some or all of the HGOs’ recommendations for remedies and relief. The Steering Committee may also add remedies or relief of their own accord.

  1. Remedies and relief may include:
  1. A formal discussion between the accused and the Steering Committee to develop a plan to change the harassing behavior(s)
  2. Suspension from committee meetings and other chapter or organizational events
  3. Removal from chapter committee(s)
  4. Removal from holding leadership positions
  5. Removal from SMDSA
  1. Remedies and relief may be informed by, among other things:
  1. The request of the grievant
  2. The severity of the grievance
  3. The response of the accused
  4. The relevant behavioral history of the accused

Section 6: Consensus

HGOs will strive for consensus in determining a grievance's credibility and remedy. Where consensus cannot be found, each HGO will prepare their own recommendations for the Steering Committee, who may use or adapt those to create their decision.

Article VII: Steering Committee

Section 1: SC Responsibilities

  1. If a SC member, upon reviewing a grievance, wishes to provide additional evidence, they must first recuse themselves from voting or deliberating the grievance. Any evidence they provide must be submitted to the accused for an additional written response.
  2. If the SC decides to act against the HGO’s recommendation a written reason must be provided to both the grievant and the accused.
  3. Within thirty (30) days of the new term the SC will schedule a meeting with HGO’s to discuss the following:
  1. If any remedy or relief remain ongoing;
  2. The facts of said remedies or relief;
  3. What has been done so far; and
  4. What remains to be done.

Section 2: Appeals Process

There is no local appeals process.

  1. Any appeal will go directly to National and will follow their procedures.
  2. Until such time that National renders a decision, all previous decisions regarding the grievance will remain in effect.

Section 3: Commitment to The Credibly Accused

If the credibly accused is found not to be in major disagreement with the principles of our organization, and they wish to continue with their membership of SMDSA; the SC has a responsibility to plan for possible rehabilitation. The credibly accused may request a meeting with the SC to discuss their ongoing remedy or relief. Any accountability plan or modifications to the remedy or relief must be approved by the grievant.


Harassment & Grievance Appendix

This document is maintained by the Harassment & Grievance Officers within the bounds of the Harassment & Grievance Policy.

(WIP) Forms

Conversation with HGO

Filing a Grievance

Accused Response

Grievant Response

Filing an Appeal

Frequently Asked Questions

Expense Policy

Ratified by the Chapter on 2018-12-10

Purpose

To inform members of their rights and obligations related to chapter expenses and reimbursements, and to lay out the rules and method for approval of those expenses.

Background

Officers and members of Southern Maine DSA (SMDSA) regularly incur non-fixed expenditures in the course of organizing efforts outside of known budget items and recurring operating expenses. Further, various branches, committees, working groups, caucuses, and campaigns within SMDSA may pursue sanctioned activities that incur their own expenditures.

Expense Approval

Whether by using SMDSA funds directly or through reimbursement, all expenditures require approval:

For critical expenditures that cannot await a General Membership vote, the Steering Committee may approve expenditures with unanimous consent per the Bylaws, provided that the expenditure is announced to the membership at the following General Meeting.

Members should seek approval for expenses prior to their expenditure, and any expenses not approved in advance are subject to the discretion of the approval described above.

Branches, committees, working groups, caucuses, and campaigns may perform fundraising or collect donations for their own respective use. The chapter Treasurer shall record and retain such funds until they are requested for expenditure, and such funds will not be subject to the approval guidelines defined above.

Payment and Reimbursement Process

Option 1: Pre-approval

Option 2: Reimbursement

If using email in either case is prohibitive, please gather the required information on paper and submit it to the treasurer in person.

Local Pass-the-Hat Program

Ratified by the Steering Committee on 2019-09-03

Background

SMDSA receives 20% of the monthly dues our members pay to our national organization. SMDSA receives 0% of the annual dues our members send. Our dues share for the first quarter of 2019 was $488 which averages out to about $162 a month.

There are many problems with this system. The national DSA dues share program is inconsistent and unpredictable. We currently have a member list of about 450 members, 250 with active dues, with less than 100 paying monthly dues. As an estimate, we only receive 8% of the dues money members in our state are sending to National. This isn’t funding our local.

Local Pass-the-Hat would provide the chapter with a consistent income base which would allow for consistent project spending and a stronger infrastructure. Local Pass-the-Hat would also give financial supporters flexibility to better decide how much they give to National and how much they give to their Local.

This is in compliance with both the National and Local Bylaws under which we operate.

The Local Dues Program

SMDSA will begin a program to collect monthly local funds in excess of National Dues. Paying local funds through Pass-the-Hat does not put an individual on the national membership list, and as such, this will not replace the need to pay National dues in whatever denomination or method individuals so choose.

With the passage of this program, we will:

Branch Dues Sharing Policy

Updated by the Chapter on 2020-9-14

Background

SMDSA includes every DSA member in Maine. Members pay dues to National DSA; some pay annually while others pay monthly. SMDSA receives 20% of the monthly dues and 0% of the annual dues. SMDSA received $1,338 for the Third quarter of 2020.

While the branches are part of the chapter, they are pretty autonomous and geographically spread out. To address this, we move to start a Branch Dues Share program, retroactive to the start of 2019, that shares a portion of our National dues-share with our branches. This provides our branches with operating funds in the immediate term, creates statewide cohesion in fundraising efforts in the medium term, and builds toward a chapter in every county in the long term. It is not intended to be a substitute for requests for funds for other needs. Those requests will be handled according to the existing expense policy.

This program is flexible. If we add or drop branches, or our branches grow unevenly, we can update the shares. If our dues income decreases, we all share in the risk; if it increases, we share the reward. Every new member helps every branch, creating a true rising tide program.

The Branch Dues Sharing Program

Data Security Policy

Ratified by General Membership on 2021-02-08

Article I: Overview

Data security is best when practices are unified across the organization. This policy aims to be simple to create a foundation of best practices that can be built upon in the future.

Article II: Definitions

Public Folder - This folder is for documents cleared to be shared publicly. Intended for governance documents, new member orientation materials, or committee minutes. Documents must be approved to be placed in the public folder. Public folder is not meant to be an archive and out of date documents will be removed.

Items initially cleared for the Public Folder are:

  1. Chapter Bylaws
  2. List of extant committee names, descriptions, and current and past projects
  3. Welcome to the Chapter/Considering membership introductory info

Chapter Folder - This folder is meant for all other documents. It is meant to be an archive as well as where most chapter work is done. Access is controlled through permission levels. Requests for specific documents may be granted outside of permission levels.

Officer Permission - Officers include all Committee Co-Chairs, Branch Leadership, and Harassment & Grievance Officers. They have access to the Chapter Folder, and Membership List.

Subcommittee Permission - Members of the Steering Committee Subcommittees have access to the chapter folder, but not the Membership List.

Committee Permission - Members of other committees have access to their individual committee folder.

Committee Documents - Minutes from meetings, and any document that is presented at a committee meeting.

Article III: Administration

Section 1. Responsible Party

The work of administering the Data Security Policy falls to the Steering Committee, but may be delegated to a standing committee by Steering Committee vote.

Section 2. Public Folder Criteria

Future documents added to the public folder will follow along these guidelines.

  1. No personal identifying information
  2. No financial information
  3. Focuses on chapter wide activities

Section 3. Responsibilities

  1. Conduct audits every 6 months of the chapter’s data storage to make sure files are  in compliance.
  2. Retrieve copies of minutes for members upon request.

Article IV: Committees

Section 1. Committees

The committee rules apply to all committees, including Subcommittees and the Steering Committee itself.

Section 2. Committee Membership

Membership on committees is all that’s required for Committee Permissions.

  1. Joining a Committee. To join a committee a person must attend at least one committee meeting and request to join. DSA membership is not required for joining a committee, but is required to vote on committee matters. In order to close committees to new membership, a motion must be brought to a general meeting.
  2. Expiration of Membership. If a person has not attended a committee meeting in more than a year, then their committee membership expires. Once they attend another meeting, they are free to request to rejoin a committee.

Section 3. Minutes

  1. Purpose. The purpose of minutes is to hold knowledge collectively. A record of discussion helps both those who did and did not attend the meeting. It allows our members to step back when they need to, and make sure those who step up have all the information they need to succeed. It helps us avoid rehashing old arguments, and instead focus on new ideas.
  2. Best Practices.
  1. Disclaimer - At the start of a meeting let people know you’re taking minutes and where they’ll be held.
  2. Use first name and initial of last name by default. Offer pseudonyms if people are worried about being on record.

Section 4. Other Responsibilities

  1. Committee documents. Documents shared in meetings must have a copy available in the chapter folder.
  2. Online votes. There must be a record of online votes taken over email.

Related Policy

Chapter Bylaws Article VIII Committees

Membership List Policy

Forms Used

Frequently Asked Questions

Membership List Policy

Ratified by the Chapter on 2019-10-14

SMDSA’s membership list includes every DSA member in the state of Maine. This list includes sensitive information such as their addresses, contact information, and even names of family members and children. Many members wish to keep their membership information private for professional or personal reasons. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the chapter to keep this list as secure as possible. To this end, the chapter Steering Committee has developed the following parameters around using our official membership list, herein referred to as “the list”.

The list shall only be available to the members of the Steering Committee (Officers and the elected Chairs of Committees and Branches). The list may be made available to other parties, but only with the express consent of the Steering Committee.

The list shall only be used for DSA-related work. The list shall not be used for relaying any information or event that is not directly related to, or endorsed by, National DSA, the Southern Maine DSA chapter, or any of its Maine branches.

Copies of the list shall only be made with express consent of the Steering Committee.

Anyone found to have knowingly broken any of the parameters listed above may face loss of access, recall from elected office, or removal from the chapter

Recording

Ratified by the Chapter on 2018-12-10

The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America ("SMDSA") is committed to open, transparent, and accessible public discourse, while also ensuring the freedom of its members to communicate without the fear of being secretly recorded without their consent.

Therefore, NO person -- including but not limited to members, visitors, and invited guests -- may record conversations of another without their prior knowledge and consent. Recordings include audio and/or video by any means.

Prohibited recording devices include but are not limited to phones, smartphones, audio recorders, video cameras, cameras, and microphones.

Any individual requesting to record via audio or video any persons at an SMDSA meeting or event will need to request and be granted prior authorization by the SMDSA Steering Committee. The SMDSA Steering Committee reserves the right to refuse such requests, at their sole discretion.

SMDSA reserves the right to use cameras and recording devices for the purposes of accessibility for the benefit of members, solely with the express knowledge of those attending.

If an approved recording is in effect, individuals may still refuse to be recorded and at such time may end any conversation with the recording party.

Those who refuse to comply with this policy may be asked to leave the premises of the meeting.

Dues Waiver Program

Ratified by the Steering Committee on 2019-12-29

“From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” - Karl Marx

DSA is a self-funded organization. We self-fund by having members pay a fee for membership, aka “dues.” Members may pay dues in whatever amount they are comfortable with.

Being self-funded is central to our mission. When organizations are funded by wealthy donors, they become influenced by that money. Sometimes that influence is direct - the wealthy donors give orders and the members or volunteers follow them. Sometimes it’s subconscious, like members being hesitant to make decisions that would upset their donors. However, by having a member-run and member-funded organization, we are accountable to only ourselves. This is people power in practice.

At the same time, we recognize that times are tough and the working class is being squeezed by every system we interact with: skyrocketing health care and housing costs, crushing student loans, unlivable wages at work, with little to no sick or vacation time to escape these chains. Our movement won’t be successful until it is a mass working-class movement. We absolutely will not exclude anyone based on their inability to pay dues. If dues are a barrier for you, our chapter will subsidize memberships with no questions asked.

It’s a pretty simple process:

  1. Tell us that you wish to become a member but need financial sponsorship.
  2. We’ll schedule a meeting with you to go through the membership signup and cover the costs for you, and answer any questions you might have about DSA, our chapter, or organizing goals you have in general.

That’s it! We look forward to organizing alongside you soon. Solidarity Forever.

Priority Campaign Model Policy

Ratified by Chapter on 2021-1-24

Reason for Policy

To create a model to select campaigns which will focus the resources of the chapter. To codify the support which has helped campaigns succeed in the past.

Introduction

This policy was developed in the Steering Committee after working through the People First Portland campaign. The campaign was very large and required more support than regular committee work. After the fact it is easy to call People First Portland a priority campaign for the chapter. We wanted to formalize a process for campaigns to receive similar chapter support in the future.

Policy Statement

Any committee may bring forward a priority campaign proposal. It should list out concrete goals, and make note of how the campaign intersects with multiple chapter interests. The general membership approves a priority campaign by 2/3rd majority.

A priority campaign receives the following additional support:

Coalition Policy

Ratified by Chapter on 2021-1-24

Introduction

We hope our chapter to be part of a larger community in the locales that we work in. This policy is not meant to limit how we interact with the larger community. It is instead meant to make commitments transparent and accountable both to our members and our allies. As a membership based organization, coalitions work best when our members understand who we are working with and why, rather than it being only a relationship held amongst leadership.

Definitions

A coalition is hereby defined as the coordination between two or more separate organizations for combined action. The difference between a coalition and other community building activities is the commitment of resources by our chapter, and directing our members to coalition planning meetings.

Joining or Forming a Coalition

To join a coalition a motion must be brought to a general meeting. This motion must be sponsored by a committee, or include in the motion the creation of a new committee. The coalition is approved with a simple majority vote.

Coalition Committees

The committee that sponsors the motion for a coalition, or was created with said motion will be called a Coalition Committee (CC). In addition to the normal committee responsibilities, a CC must also:

  1. Select however they wish at least one (1), and up to two (2) Coalition Liaisons (CL). CL’s will:
  1. Take responsibility for communication between chapter and coalition
  2. Attend coalition leadership meetings.
  3. Keep the rest of the committee up to date.
  1. The chair of the CC can be a CL, but does not need to be.
  2. Meet at least quarterly to discuss the state of the coalition. Whether the original mission statement still fits, and how our chapter’s involvement can be improved.
  3. Give at least quarterly reports about the coalition to the General Membership

Dissolution

The chapter’s involvement in any coalition ceases upon attainment of the coalition’s stated goal(s), or a majority vote by members to remove the chapter from said coalition.

Questions for Coalition Mission Statement

  1. What are the goals of the coalition?
  2. How will our chapter be able to add to the strategy and tactics of the coalition?
  3. Are there other benefits from joining this coalition?
  4. What are the redlines that will make you reconsider membership with the coalition?

Related policies

Bylaws Article VIII: Committees

Community Building Policy

Forms

Motion to Form a Committee

Motion to Form/Join a Coalition


Community Building Policy

Ratified by chapter on 2021-1-24

Purpose of Policy

Community Building Policy is intended to make DSA, and its communication a hub for political activity. With that grand ambition stated, what it actually seeks to accomplish comes in two parts.

  1. To develop communication and relationships with other organizations while keeping the relationship informal.
  2. Bring to the followers of DSA’s communication attention of enriching activities that can also enhance members' relationships with each other and our community.

Policy Statement

The Communication Sub-Committee is hereby empowered to share community events on chapter digital platforms. These events may not be business or planning meetings, nor may they be events for unendorsed electoral candidates, or ballot questions. A DSA liaison will be established before publishing, and report backs will be planned for after the event.

Definitions

Digital Platforms - As described in our Communication Channels Primer, this includes social media, calendar, and our weekly flyer.

Community Events - These are non-dsa events approved by the communication sub-committee. Likely to be social activities or mutual aid.

Unendorsed electoral candidates, or ballot questions - Chapter endorsement is required to promote electoral candidates or ballot questions.

Business / Planning Meetings - These are meetings where organizational planning takes place. Notes are taken and someone is perhaps running stack.

DSA Liaison - This is the DSA point person involved with the community event. They are listed in the flyer as the contact person for people who want to get involved. They are expected to help facilitate people's attendance at the community event, and report back afterwards.

Details

If a DSA member would like to broadcast a Community Event on our digital platforms they should fill out this form. It is also possible to bring a Community Event proposal to the Communication Sub-Committee regularly scheduled meeting. The submitter of the Community Event Application should be the person who intends to be the DSA liaison for the event.

The criteria of the Community Event will be as followed. It should be an event that is approachable to newcomers with a low barrier to entry. Mutual aid or social events are ideal here. The event can’t be a planning or business meeting. That sort of activity with another organization should only occur after a coalition is approved. If it is a recurring event then a reliable sign-up form or contact email for someone involved with running the event must be provided. If the contact email is a member’s personal account and shouldn’t be shared, an email address redirect can be created by the Communications Committee using the smdsa domain (ie “events@smdsa.org”) to forward emails.

Approval of community events is by 2/3rds vote by the Communication Sub-Committee. If an applicant is denied a reasoning will be provided.

The report back date is flexible and can be worked out after approval of the event. The report back should focus on identifying people who came because of the flyer. If they’re interested in more DSA activity they should be referred to the membership sub-committee. For recurring events report backs can be grouped up into monthly reports. If a recurring event proves unpopular and no one can be identified as coming because of the flyer, then the event will be removed from the flyer.

Social media platforms are permitted to post about Community Events included in the Weekly Flyer.

Forms

Community Event Form

Related Documents

Communication Channel Primer

Standing Rules

Ratified by the Chapter on 2018-08-20

  1. Endorsing Ballot Initiatives and Candidates requires a 2/3rds vote (Adopted 2018-08-20)
  2. Non-endorsed candidates may not speak at meetings/stump in their official capacity as candidates (Adopted 2018-08-20)
  3. Endorsed candidates do not gain access to the SMDSA membership lists in any way