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Code of Conduct

PURPOSE AND SCOPE

Socialist COVID-19 Organizing, Resistance, and Education endeavors to develop a norm of behavior for all members in all our social lives, in dealing with people; in interacting with non-members in coalition and recruitment spaces; in dealing with mass media, social media, and public relations; in organizing community struggles; in building up distinct and interconnected organizations of people; and, in dealing with each other, securing our space for shared struggle and discussion, where we can acknowledge our material conditions and engage with our comrades humanely.

Part of this development is to center leadership of those most impacted by the pandemic, and to be inclusive of the largest number of contributors, with the greatest diversity of backgrounds possible. We must strive to recognize people’s inherent worth, history, and life experiences. We work toward sustainability in our organizing work. We are committed to providing a safe, respectful, and welcoming environment for our organizers and organizing partners, Socialist COVID-19 Organizing, Resistance, and Education recognizes respect for material conditions as a necessary grounding of our community. This grounding sees that our consciousness is decisively shaped by the experiences we have in the course of living and working in order to survive.

We strive to welcome beginners and experienced organizers alike. Each member should feel comfortable contributing and sharing their perspective.

EXPECTATIONS OF BEHAVIOR

We expect our members to be considerate in speech and actions, and actively seek to learn, acknowledge, and respect the boundaries of others, whether or not they are members of SCORE. We expect our members to be welcoming and supportive of fellow organizers.

Begin from the basis of all deserving respect and dignity. Begin from the assumption of authenticity, honesty, and good faith. Keep the interest of the organization as a whole in mind.

We are all working toward common, long-term goals. Debate and disagreement are expected and beneficial to the movement, but they should not include demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech.

Communicate Clearly.

Before speaking, know the point of your comment and get there efficiently. Everyone's time and capacity is limited, and meeting agendas are always full. When you put yourself on Stack, have a clear idea of what you want to say and say it as efficiently and clearly as possible.

If your comment is short and related to the current point, take advantage of the option to express it in the chat. However, chat is not a replacement for stack participation.

Take Space, Make Space.

When you speak, after you make your point, let others speak. Help create a safe and inclusive space for everybody. Please respect others by recognizing how much and how often you are speaking and whether or not you are dominating conversation. Step back to leave space for others to voice their opinions and feelings. If the facilitator of the meeting asks you to wrap up, recognize that you should step back. Sustained disruption of discussion is unacceptable. This especially applies to participants from privileged backgrounds. On the other hand, if you don’t often speak up, please be encouraged to do so.

Use “I” Statements.

When you speak, speak from your perspective, rather than assuming that of other people. Speak for yourself and from your own experiences.

One Mouth, One Mic.

One person speaks at a time. Many of us will have different opinions on matters. However, speaking while others are talking or adding comments when they cannot respond appropriately does not build community. If you have a disagreement, wait for your turn to address it. In practice, this is mutual respect for our community and all members.

Listen Actively

When not speaking, Listen Actively. The beginning of active listening is seeking to understand rather than to respond. Heed what has been, and is being, said by others: don’t “wait to talk.” Ensure understanding before responding, and when responding, genuinely engage with what others say. If someone says what you were thinking, consider taking yourself off Stack.

Avoid Jargon

Use plain and explanatory language and avoid acronyms. Do not name drop or speak in esoteric terms—communicate your own perception of ideas. Part of this is not browbeating anyone or the organization for lack of education or development—our goals include uplifting all members, regardless of where they begin. To that end, every unknown reference is an opportunity to learn together. When someone uses a term or makes a reference you do not understand, let them know! We can pause discussion for a brief explanation and all learn together. Every member brings with them a different education, cultural knowledge, and media library, and that means that there’s always something new to share.

Organizational Representation

All members are considered representatives of this organization while engaged in organizing work or public advocacy around any issues within the scope of this organization's mission and work. Of particular note is not one-off and intermittent activities but instead patterns of behavior which reflect back destructively on this organization or its members.

Best efforts should be extended to avoid even the appearance of impropriety: whether an activity is explicitly within the umbrella of the organization’s mission and work, and whether it is endorsed by this organization or not, the court of public opinion may judge it to be so. Activities, social media, and media publications will not be evaluated or investigated, but members must be cognizant of the potential harms of their conduct. Members shall not put others at bodily, legal, or financial risk without their consent.

Responsibility for official organizational external messaging is defined in the SCORE Bylaws document.

STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR

Constructive Criticism

Self-criticism and then criticism

The real purpose and significance of any discussion or criticism is to determine if one’s impressions about a particular issue are correct or not. This can only be determined by putting it to the test of bringing it into conflict with the larger organization’s opinion through discussions.

Through this struggle, either the organization’s opinion will be changed, or someone’s own impression will be changed, or a completely new understanding will come out. There is no room here for indecision. Our shared impressions must be built upon collective experience and not on sheer individual thinking, and should be derived through interaction and struggle with all comrades in the organization.

  1. The first goal of those who make criticism should be such that if their point is wrong, maybe they are unconscious of it, and in making the criticism they may be able to correct their own way of thinking. Has the criticizer investigated the topic of discussion or are they speaking off the cuff?
  2. The second goal is in correcting the mistakes of others, one must keep in view the overall goals and values of the group, and educate all witnessing the correction, by a method which maintains the cohesion of the group.

In other words, the method of criticism is self-criticism first and then criticism of others because criticism becomes really helpful only when it is based on the attitude of self-criticism. This is the opposite of book knowledge and pedantry—it is an examination of practice.

Method of criticism

Begin in good faith. Good faith originates from the recipient of criticism and good intentions originate from the provider of criticism.

Unity originates in solidarity. Criticism must begin with a desire for unity by all. Inside the organization, we must struggle from an attitude of mutual respect and we must not stop trying to educate rather than antagonize. Priorities and actions for all members left of the United States Capitalist parties will be negligibly different as observed by the mainstream. Our goals may diverge on a long enough timeline, but negligibly so within the space of years due to the present state of the Left in the Imperial Core. Maximum intensity should be engaged in persuasion and argument over principles and ideas, but not over the form of the organization and the form of the process of struggle.

Struggle against ideas, not people. Intraorganizational struggle must be distinguished from interpersonal struggle. The focus of criticism is the relationship of mistakes and errors to our organizational principles and points of unity. We should not begin by inquiring as to who is responsible for mistakes and errors—it is in the process of organizational action that we, our organization, and our society are changed. Our goal is uniting to combat oppression together. It is not our policy to deal blows at our members. For particularly egregious comrades who frequently violate decisions, principles, and ethics, action as defined by our Internal Grievance Procedure should be initiated.

Give others the benefit of the doubt, but don’t be afraid to challenge them when they say something you disagree with. Ask clarifying questions to get more information. Paraphrase back answers to ensure you have understood. Encourage yourself and others to maintain a positive attitude, honor the work of others, and avoid defensiveness. Be open to legitimate critique and challenge oppressive behaviors in ways that help people grow. We want to “call each other in” rather than calling each other out — in other words, if you are challenging someone's ideas or behavior, do it respectfully, and if you are being challenged, receive it respectfully.

Modified Progressive Stack

Progressive Stack is a form of leading discussions which involves a facilitator keeping a list of names of people who wish to speak. During formal meetings, If someone wishes to speak, they must indicate that they want to be put in the queue to speak. The facilitator confirms the person is then on the list to speak. However, the facilitator will not simply write a list of names in the order that people raise their hand. Rather, if someone who has not spoken wants to speak, they go to the top of the list. If someone who is of a marginalized identity group wants to speak, they go to the top of the list, unless they have already contributed significantly to the discussion.

SCORE also modifies progressive stack by taking stack through a variety of signaling methods. Methods such as vocal cue, physical hand-raise, or chat comment are all equally recognized as signaling methods to accommodate our members who may have varying degrees of participation ability, due to disability or circumstance.

Oops, Ouch

If someone does something you find offensive, rude, or harmful, let them know immediately so they can apologize and learn. In discussion, please say or chat “ouch” to let them put a pin in the moment when they made an error. The person who made the mistake should respond with “oops” to acknowledge they have received the message. If minutes are being kept, this should be clearly noted.

The goal of this technique is to guarantee confrontation, not to avoid it, but to also allow the current discussion to stay on track. A discussion of the harm done should proceed after the current discussion, although it can be had during the current discussion if it is relevant and does not detract from the work being done.

If you make a mistake, it’s okay! Acknowledge the error, think about it, and move forward. We all make mistakes, but we only learn when we experience criticism and self-criticism.

Events and Actions

All organizational events and actions (e.g. tabling/pamphlet distribution, food distribution, fundraising, etc) which utilize collective resources must be done with the perspective of the larger goals of the organization in mind. In other words, the goal of food distribution is not for the limited and temporary positive effect of feeding members of the community but instead to demonstrate our shared values and principles, communicate our ongoing efforts and effective past efforts, and to promote the organization and how it can continue to deliver a positive impact on the community.

This does not in any way preclude, disallow, or discourage individual participation in or sharing of mutual aid and charity actions.

Per agreement with the governing document on internal struggle, members representing the organization are expected to represent the goals, ideas, values, and principles which the majority of the organization have agreed upon.

In the event of a major catastrophic event (e.g. hurricane, earthquake, etc), it is essential that resources be first considered for conservation and use locally before pooling. For example, in 2021 a hurricane hit the USA Gulf Coast catastrophically, and many Philadelphia area organizations delivered supplies; however, just a few days later the same storm flooded out the Philadelphia area and supplies were then lacking.

UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR

Unacceptable behavior is unwelcome action or communication (or even suggested action or communication) that makes a person feel uncomfortable, distressed, or humiliated.

Intention, repetition, and severity distinguishes between mistakes and deliberate harassment. If asked to stop a behavior, whether or not it is covered in this document, then you are expected to stop the behavior.

Members are expected to utilize our Code of Conduct responsibly, instead of weaponizing the code to avoid accountability or hard conversations. Note that this list is not exhaustive, and that a major weapon of harassers is arguing whether something is actually harassing. Also note that not only are these unacceptable, but that advocating for or encouraging these behaviors is also unacceptable.

The following are examples of unacceptable behavior:

  1. Discriminatory jokes and language, or offensive comments. Including those related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, age, race, or religion
  2. Personal insults or attacks. Especially those using racist or sexist terms, and including deliberate misgendering or use of ‘dead’ or rejected names
  3. Unsolicited comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices. Including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment
  4. Any nature of sexual offenses. Including the intentional use of inappropriate sexual language, inappropriate sexual behavior, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, sharing unsolicited or off-topic sexual images or comments, unwelcome sexual attention or physical contact, and simulated sexual attention or physical contact (e.g., textual descriptions like “hug” or “backrub”) without consent or after a request to stop
  5. Pattern of inappropriate social contact. Including requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others; harassing photography or recording or logging online activity for harassment purposes; and, stalking, following, or continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease
  6. Posting (or threatening to post) other people’s personally identifying information, or sharing their personal/political activities in order to harm them personally/professionally (“doxing”), deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent except as necessary to protect vulnerable people from intentional abuse, or publication of non-harassing private communication.
  7. Incitement or threats of violence towards any individual. Including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm; deliberate intimidation; and, campaigns of harassment; and any nature of domestic abuse, assault, violence, or other domestic offence. Members shall not put others at bodily, legal, or financial risk without their consent.
  8. Working to intentionally and actively undermine the organization. Including inviting new people into servers or discussion; inviting new members who appear to have no intention of interacting with the organization except to gang up on a policy point or person (brigading)
  9. Participating in, or being otherwise supportive of, organizations that advocate or otherwise promote neoconfederatism, fascism, or nazism (e.g. PatSocs/CPI).

REPORTING AND INCIDENT HANDLING

If you are being harassed by a member of SCORE, notice that someone else is being harassed, or has any other grievances or concerns, please follow the contact procedure outlined in SCORE Internal Grievance Procedure. Once an incident is reported, members are asked to keep information confidential and only discuss the incident with the people who have signed on to assist as outlined in the Procedure.

SCORE also advises members to report harassment or other grievance instances which may occur between members and non-members (or members and organized bodies); such as with other coalition partners and during community outreach and recruitment efforts.

All instances of harassment or other grievances are taken seriously, whether or not they occur internally. Any report of such instances will be used to inform SCORE which relationships to cultivate and which to critique, when deciding how to move toward repair and healing.

ENFORCEMENT

If a member engages in harassing or other unacceptable behavior, and is asked to stop, they are expected to comply immediately. If a member continues to engage in harassment or other unacceptable behavior, the person will be removed from the environment where the behavior is occurring, such as a meeting, virtual/digital organizing space, or other methods of virtual communication. If harassment or other unacceptable behavior continues, the individual may be removed from SCORE.

Further action regarding enforcement of this code of conduct beyond removal from the situation is detailed in the SCORE Internal Grievance Procedures document.

PROCESS FOR REVISION

This is a living document, and is subject to change as needed. Decisions to revise or amend any governing documents of Socialist COVID-19 Organizing, Resistance, and Education is always a collective effort of the membership, through the standard revisions policy of SCORE, stated below.

Any rank and file SCORE member can submit a revision to the Code of Conduct. Any proposal for revision needs to be submitted in writing, and submitted to any person part of the Steering Committee or either Internal Grievance Officer. Space will be provided for the discussion of this amendment (e.g. at a previously scheduled meeting or at a standalone meeting specifically for this discussion). If approved by a majority of voting eligible members in attendance, the revision will be submitted to all SCORE Members via email to be voted on electronically. Voting will remain open for one week following email distribution. At the end of the voting period if the revision is approved by a simple majority of SCORE members who cast a vote, the revision will be considered internally ratified by SCORE. Approved changes will go into effect following notification of the membership by the Steering Committee or IGOs. Any changes that are not approved may be revised and submitted again at any time.

DOCUMENT HISTORY

Created: 5 April 2023
Revised:
Current Version: April - 2023

RESOURCE CREDITS

This Code of Conduct has been adapted from the DSA Disability Working Group Code of Conduct which draws on: