School of Commons
Code of Conduct
This code of conduct is a basis for all of our activities, gatherings, communications, and internal and external outputs.
It forms part of our committed pursuit to engendering a SAFER space (we acknowledge “Safe” is a constantly evolving environment and set of conditions and commit to continuously revising and responding in relation to this). We further acknowledge that we come from different backgrounds, contexts, disciplines and approaches and all have certain areas of unawareness, experiencing processes of learning and unlearning. Therefore, this Code of Conduct cannot account for all the ways that people might feel excluded, unsafe or uncomfortable. We commit to open dialogues, and as such this Code of Conduct is never finished and should change whenever needed. We will amend this document over time so it reflects the priorities and sensitivities of SoC as it changes.
It is a collective responsibility for all of us to enact the behaviour described below, and bring it to the physical and digital space of SoC.
The code of conduct is a set of guidelines that help establish shared values and ensure that behaviour that may harm participants is avoided. This document equally applies to School of Common’s, participants, contributors, collaborators, and all those who engage and attend in our outputs and process. The document also applies to users and contributors to SoC’s online channels. The word “we” is used in this document as it applies to all of the above.
SoC Code of Conduct
School of Commons is a learning and peer exchange environment. It accommodates a whole range of practices. Working together means bridging gaps: between different practices, levels of technical expertise, personal preferences and political, ethical and personal orientations. Together, we strive to create an environment for participants with different ranges of experience, while allowing complex topics to be discussed.
We want SoC to be a space where all participants can develop their research and practices in a collective setting and people feel safe and comfortable to participate, to express themselves, to learn and to work together. The vulnerable nature of collective work means that uncomfortable situations can occur. These situations ask for mutual respect and care. We hope that everyone participating in SoC is respectful, thinks before they speak, practices empathy, feels able to share their concerns and vulnerabilities, and exercises care.
In the interest of making an inclusive environment, we will not tolerate harassment, exclusion, or any other harmful behaviour in any form. We are committed to sufficiently communicating and upholding this code of conduct and making the SOC environment (digital and physical, internal and external) as safe and supportive as is within our capacity, through leading via care-based and access-first practices.
We expect everyone who participates in SoC, in any capacity to be considerate of each other, the space we enter, the people, projects and participants at SoC and the practices it houses as part of its internal, external and wider ecosystems.
Be open and generous without making assumptions about others. This can include assumptions about identity, knowledge, experiences, background or preferred pronouns. Never demand information that may be sensitive, difficult or potentially triggering for someone else to discuss or communicate. We endeavour to be generous with our time and our abilities when we are able to. Help others, but ask first. There are many ways to contribute to a collective practice, which may differ from our individual ways.
Recognise that identities are multifaceted and intersectional. We do not tolerate discrimination, hate, or harassment of anyone in any form: no racism, no sexism, no transphobia, no homophobia, no xenophobia, no ageism, no ableism.
Endeavour to be inclusive and representative of marginalised peoples’ voices and experiences. Consciously enact communications and activities with attention to accessible needs and requirements.
Always ask for consent – we are a community that centres and are extremely enthusiastic about consent. Consent must always be prioritised.
Respect physical and emotional boundaries. Be respectful of different viewpoints and experiences. Be respectful of each others’ limited time and energy. Take each other and each other’s practices seriously. Acknowledge that this might lead to disagreement. However, disagreement is no excuse for poor manners.
Be responsible for the promises we make, in this document and otherwise, meaning that we follow up on our commitments. We take responsibility for the good things we do, but also for the bad ones. We listen to and act upon respectful feedback. We correct ourselves when necessary, keeping in mind that the impact of our words and actions on other people doesn’t always match our intent.
Be dedicated which means not letting the group happen to us, but making the group together. We participate in the group with self-respect and don’t exhaust ourselves. This might mean saying how we feel, setting boundaries, and being clear about our expectations. Nobody is expected to be perfect in this community, we are all expected to try our best and support one another through the different means available to us. Ask questions early and in the most appropriate context (privately or via a member of the team is our go-to advice) to avoid problems later. Those who are asked should be responsive and helpful.
Be empathetic, by actively listening to others and not dominating discussions. We give each other the chance to improve and let each other step up into positions of responsibility. We make room for others. We are aware of each other’s feelings, provide support where necessary, and know when to step back. One’s idea of caring may differ from how others want to be cared for. We ask to make sure that our actions are wanted.
Foster an inclusive environment by trying to create opportunities for others to express views, share skills and make other contributions. Ensure to leave room for others to speak and share their own opinions and experiences. Being together is something we actively work on and requires negotiation. We recognize that not everyone has the same opportunities, therefore we must be sensitive to the context we operate in. There are implicit hierarchies that we can challenge, and we should strive to do so. When we organize something (projects, events, etc.), we think about how we can consider degrees of privilege, account for the needs of others, promote an activist stance and support other voices.
Be generous with your feedback, and be conscious that sometimes the most impactful feedback comes in the form of engaged questions, stemming from a genuine curiosity. Within the SoC environment, feedback is never about judgment or validation, but about offering a different perspective to your peer’s research or project. Keep it constructive and honest, that is, supportive and thoughtful. Be mindful that everyone gets a say in conversations without being interrupted or talked over. Be patient and supportive, know that each person is unique, and each has their own way of expressing themselves. Please refrain from showing off your knowledge.
Be considerate in your language use. When messaging online, meaning and tone can often get misinterpreted, so we ask that you start from a place of friendship and assume others are doing so as well. Any behavior or language that is unwelcoming—whether or not it rises to the level of harassment—can hurt someone. In doing so consider your linguistic privilege. We communicate mostly in English, even though English rarely is the first language of community members. Native English speakers should therefore be aware of their privilege and remain sensitive to how they exercise power through words. We see translation and interpretation as a political work of carrying ideas across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Even though words are often unique and do not have direct equivalents across languages, the laborious, time-consuming, and often imperfect, work of translation and interpretation allows us to come closer to each other.
Take ownership of your mistakes.
We do not tolerate the following, in any form:
Structural or personal discrimination, including attitudes or comments promoting or reinforcing the oppression of any groups or people based on gender, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, mental illness, neurodiversity, personal appearance, physical appearance, body size, age, or class.
Harassment or abuse in public or private, digital or physical spheres. Harassment includes, but is not limited to: violent threats or language directed against another person, comments disparaging anyone based on gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, or religion, posting sexual or violent imagery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following, harassing photography or recording (screenshots), inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, advocating for, or encouraging, any of the aforementioned behavior, as well as repeated harassment of others. In general, if someone asks you to stop, then stop. Abuse is: Disrespect for your views on identity, implied or enacted harm on your mental and physical self, or trolling, misdirection, and disrespectful use of resources and access. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, please reach out to us immediately.
Violation of privacy, namely publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without explicit permission. Do not take or publish photos or recordings of others after their request to not do so. Delete recordings if asked.
Unwelcome sexual conduct, including unwanted sexual language, imagery, actions, attention or advances.
Destructive behaviour, or any other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate. This includes (but is not exclusive to) depictions of violence without content warnings, consistently and purposely derailing or disrupting conversations, or other behaviour that persistently disrupts the ability of others to engage in the group or space.
Immediate intervention (help is needed now!)
If you are feeling unsafe at any time in any capacity, for example, sexual harassment, targeted bullying, violence or aggressive communication, or the use of insensitive or discriminatory language, you can immediately contact the SoC members (our details are included at the top of this document) who are tasked with making sure the code of conduct is respected. These contact people are members of SoC who will do their best to help or to find the correct assistance if relevant/necessary.
Non-immediate intervention (an important situation that requires more time)
There are often other violations that need to be considered and consulted upon with more people or in a more measured way. For example: if you witness structurally unacceptable behaviour; if somebody keeps enactive extractivist practices or demands after being asked to stop. In these cases please get in contact with us as soon as possible. We prefer to constructively resolve disagreements together and work to right the wrong, when it is possible and safe to do so. We will always act as meditators to the situation and always lead with care-based practices. In times when this is not possible, we will consult experts or experienced individuals related to the specific context who we can ask for advice or support from. If the problems continue to persist, those who are responsible for enforcing the code of conduct can help you deal with these kinds of problems.
Information will be handled with sensitivity. We will always ask your permission before publicly sharing any personal, private, or sensitive information. If anonymity is requested, this will always be respected.
<last updated May 2023>
Credit and Acknowledgement
We are always learning from and being inspired by the work of other projects and organisations paving the way toward safer, more accessible and inclusive spaces. This Code of Conduct is based upon a number of fellow Code of Conducts we feel are hugely impactful.
These are the following:
Varia (from whom we also borrow the technology to host this SoC CoC: https://varia.zone/en/pages/code-of-conduct.html
Queer Archive: https://queer.archive.work/code_of_conduct/studio_code_sept2021.pdf
We are passionate about continuing to encounter and learn from the practices and codes of other institutions, projects and organisations. If there are Code of Conduct’ that you find inspiring and impactful, please generously share them with us.
SoC is a complex collective space. We are a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary group. At SoC, we speak predominantly in English. We recognize that most members and visitors are not native speakers of these languages. We also recognize that there are multiple ways of speaking, communicating and interacting (sounds, gestures, acts, movement, etc.), depending on cultural backgrounds, education and practices. As such, we recognize that situations might arise where misunderstandings or conflicts happen. We strive to overcome these misunderstandings through a commitment to open dialogue: we prefer to assume good faith and ask participants, collaborators or attendees to express their concerns directly to each other when possible. When this is not an option, this Code of Conduct can be consulted for further actions.
If a situation arises in which you feel unsafe, uncomfortable or misrepresented in any capacity, your first port-of-call is the SoC Team who are here to listen, support and care for the situation. We are passionate about upholding the code of conduct to the best possible standard.