[Linux-aus] Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful

Donna Benjamin donna at cc.com.au
Mon Feb 21 08:41:36 EST 2011

Thanks Patrick - This is a great post. 

Your experience in this area shows - I believe some of what you've
suggested has certainly been discussed, and some not.

The tricky thing with policies is always in the implementation.  

A policy itself is just a signpost. It's not until it's implemented and
acted upon that it really starts to mean something.

If we can learn from others how to phrase and implement the policy so
that it does not become smothered in legalese, ineffective or draconian,
then I reckon we'll be on the right path.

I particularly like the right of appeal. I wonder if the assembled
ghosts of conferences past might be a suitable forum at an LCA?

- Donna

On Sun, 2011-02-20 at 21:18 +1100, elliott-brennan wrote:
> I'd like to add a few comments in relation to the 
> discussion going on here, though firstly will 
> admit I wasn't at LCA, didn't see the presentation 
> and have heard about it only from some of those 
> who did attend and that which has been written here.
> Additionally, not that this makes me an expert :) 
> I've had quite a few years professional experience 
> in the area (including training people in State 
> government in the implementation of policies 
> relating to racism and discrimination, training of 
> State employees and community groups in the 
> handling and identifying of sexual abuse and in 
> complaints investigation for a State agency).
> 1. All policies are interpreted by those who apply 
> them. It is not possibly to create policies (or 
> Acts of law) which cover every eventually 
> specifically. Thus the variations are expected to 
> be understood by a reasonable, average person.
> The 'reasonable person' application is quite 
> common, provokes dispute amongst some and 
> frequently requires review.
> That the current policy doesn't explicitly 
> identify all possible  examples and eventualities 
> is to be expected - to think otherwise is to have 
> an expectation which cannot be met.  Thus, 
> harassment policies will be general in areas and 
> specific in others. Referring to existing laws is 
> always a good idea, as appears to have been the case.
> 2. Each person adversely affected by a policy 
> should be entitled to appeal the adverse effect 
> within a reasonable period of time. e.g.. if 
> someone was kicked out of a conference, they 
> should be entitled to speak to someone, other than 
> the person who took the action, who has the 
> authority to reverse the decision or recommend 
> such to persons independent of those making the 
> original decision.
> If this doesn't exist, I would suggest it should. 
> It ensures that all reasonable steps are taken and 
> ensures a quick resolution (this does not mean 
> 'happiness making', merely that a decision is 
> taken and accepted by those with the final 
> authority in the location in question).
> 3. If there isn't one already, has there been any 
> thought given to having designated persons (e.g.. 
> at an information booth) to whom someone can take 
> a complaint if they believe they are being 
> harassed? This can then be pointed out in the 
> conference handouts etc.
> These nominated/assigned persons can then deal 
> with the issue at that point and determine if any 
> other action is required - this would minimise 
> double handling, confusion of interpretation and 
> allow other conference personnel to carry on with 
> their duties while the matter is being dealt with.
> It allows a clear point of contact and a person 
> with responsibility for recording the details of 
> the incident and action taken. It also allows for 
> a clear line of responsibility and accountability.
> I raise this only because I've not been to LCA 
> (not through a lack of interest) and thus have no 
> knowledge of the mechanics of complaints handling 
> at the conferences.
> I hope my comments are of some assistance.
> Regards,
> Patrick
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Donna Benjamin - Executive Director
Creative Contingencies - http://cc.com.au
ph +61 3 9326 9985 - mob +61 418 310 414
Campaigning to http://digitisethedawn.org 

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