Charlottesville Community Code of Conduct
The Short Version
Mission. We are dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive, and accessible experience for everyone. Simply by joining the community, you belong in it, and so does the next person.
Purpose. The code of conduct describes how individuals committed to creating an inclusive experience must comport themselves. It defines and sanctions misconduct for the sake of the full community; adherence allows each participant to be welcome and to feel empowered to contribute fully. This code of conduct is about behavior in context. Behavior which is acceptable in some settings may not be appropriate in the context of the full community.
Expectations. Members of our community demonstrate respect toward all other members and behave, while in virtual or in-person community spaces, without prejudice, discrimination, or threat.
Exhortations. Welcome others to participate. Show restraint when discussing controversial topics, allow pauses for others to join the conversation, react with a collaborative and inviting posture, help guide what is considered on- and off-topic, and be on-topic when adding to the discussion.
Repair. Seek repair when misconduct happens. Be respectful of the perspective and experiences of others. Our ability to respond to and move beyond challenging moments is a sign of our success.
Implementation. Specific forms of misconduct are named within the table of contents. Other sections in this document indicate how to interpret conduct and implement the code of conduct.
Useful Phone Numbers
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA:
- Emergency: In a health/safety emergency, dial 911.
- Yellow Cab: Call 434-295-4131 or text address to 434-202-5525.
- Non-Emergency Police: 434-970-3280.
- Sexual Assault 24-Hour Hotline: 434-977-7273.
- UVA Health System Emergency Department: 434-924-2231.
Signing Up to Join the Community?
Read the Short Version above when you are signing up for community activities. The long version follows for clarity and to equip organizers for quick response to any incident or misconduct.
Table of Contents
- Scope & Purpose
- What to do
- Compromising health/safety
- Violating personal space
- Physical violence
- Violating digital security
- Reinforcing social structures of domination
- Targeting specific groups
- References to sexual or other not-suitable-for-work (NSFW) topics
- Repeating invitations
- Discussing national politics in public spaces
- Disrupting talks, discussion threads, or other events
- When you organize an event
- About this code of conduct
Scope & Purpose
Read first: The Short Version.
The code of conduct covers participation with any community group or event, in person or through any media, for which the respective organizer has posted a link to, or otherwise announced, this code of conduct. By adopting this code of conduct, the organizer(s) commit(s) to providing a safe, inclusive, and accessible experience for everyone.
The community is a resource for everyone; its value increases through broader participation. Proper conduct provides respectful space for everyone to feel welcome and to contribute.
This document defines and sanctions misconduct for the sake of the full community; adherence allows each participant to be welcome and to feel empowered to contribute fully. Participation in the community, therefore, asks that you adhere to this code of conduct. The U.S. constitutional right to free speech notwithstanding, participants in this community will not tolerate speech or actions which go against the code of conduct. The code of conduct applies to behavior in context. Behavior appropriate in one setting may be deemed inappropriate in the context of the full community.
Community members have authored this code of conduct. This is not a legal guide, nor does it provide emergency services. Seek professional assistance for all serious issues. Escalate health and safety issues to emergency services.
What to do
- Exercise consideration and respect in your writing, speech, and actions. You belong, and so does the next person.
- Avoid assumptions about your audience; seemingly harmless comments can be perceived very differently by others.
- Attempt collaboration before conflict.
- Welcome others to participate.
- Show restraint when discussing controversial topics.
- Allow pauses for others to join the conversation.
- React with a collaborative and inviting posture.
- Help guide what is considered on- and off-topic
- Be on-topic when adding to the discussion.
- Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert community organizers if you notice a health/safety issue, someone in distress, or violations of this code of conduct, even if they seem inconsequential.
- Remember that community event venues may be shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.
When you are affected by misconduct
In a health/safety or similar emergency, dial 911.
- Prioritize your own well-being over what the community might need. We are committed to providing you support, and you can seek that support in a manner which matches your preferences or needs. We are here to provide a safe, inclusive, and accessible experience for you to continue participating in the community.
- As you are able, disengage from the misconduct.
- Contact an organizer. You have a right to be respected. You are not being "oversensitive" or a burden by speaking up.
- Provide your preferences to the organizer on how to resolve the situation, in a private setting. Your preferences matter. As you see fit, allow an organizer or designated party to talk with the person regarding misconduct and the code of conduct.
- After the misconduct has been addressed, the organizer will confirm that the air is clear and that you once again feel welcome to continue participating in the community. Feel free to reach out to the organizer before they reach back out to you.
When you witness misconduct
In a health/safety or similar emergency, dial 911.
Contact an organizer when you notice a health/safety issue, someone in distress, or violations of this code of conduct, even if they seem inconsequential. By informing an organizer, you are not "getting someone into trouble" but engaging someone familiar with the code of conduct in the shared commitment to provide a safe, inclusive, and accessible group/event.
Use your own judgment on how to step in and assist others. Only do so as you are safely able and when such assistance is welcomed by others.
Note that, for the purpose of the code of conduct, "an organizer" is anyone who regularly organizes groups/events with this code of conduct. This applies even when that organizer is not organizing this group/event, with priority given to the organizers who are.
When an organizer talks with you about this code of conduct
When an organizer talks with you in response to something that you were doing, in the context of this code of conduct:
- Above all, stop whatever you were doing.
- As much as possible, listen to the feedback provided. This code of conduct has years of history behind it, and most of the time, an organizer will have put significant thought into the situation at hand before talking with you.
- Note that for many topics of conduct, the goal is to create space for others. You might be contacted about things which are "harmless" or had "good intentions." Very often the response to the conduct in question is, "others perceive this very differently than you." In those cases, it is not that you are a "problem" but that the community is committed to being inclusive and there is feedback on how to do that in context. Even if you are not sure how to take it in, it helps to appreciate this context.
- If you would like, speak with the organizer to clarify your intent, ideally in a private setting. You deserve respect, too. Avoid trying to change minds or explain "how it works"; these are counterproductive.
- Clear the air. Find consensus with the organizer on how to signal to others that the issue is resolved.
- It might not feel like it, but be open to the possibility that an organizer wants your continued participation. The code of conduct is here to clarify how to continue participation after an issue occurs. Seek to repair the situation with others, and in doing so, you can find respect for taking ownership of the issue.
- If discussions are heated, take a few hours or a few days as appropriate to let things cool before taking each of these steps.
- For serious issues, you might be asked to stop participating in the community. Discuss with the organizer how to reinstate your participation, and give some time for a considerate response.
- Repeat issues or patterns of misconduct are taken more seriously than an isolated issue.
Any conduct which compromises health or safety of any other person, or otherwise increases such risks, will be escalated to emergency services.
Violating personal space
Misconduct includes deliberate intimidation, unwelcome gestures, unwelcome physical closeness, inappropriate physical contact, stalking, following, unwelcome photography or recording, and unwelcome attention.
Misconduct includes depictions of physical violence, suggestions that physical violence is acceptable, humor about physical violence, and threats of physical violence. It is generally acceptable to discuss experiences or events, but present media as opt-in as to avoid presenting depictions of physical violence in public spaces.
Violating digital security
Misconduct includes activities which induce, mislead, or deceive others into increased exposure of privacy and security risks. Privacy and security risks include malware, spyware, viruses and similar exploits, denial of service, using untrusted networks, compromising integrity of digital documents, leaking authentication or session credentials, exposing personal details to others who have malicious intent, exposing private personal details to a wider audience than intended, and disabling measures intended to protect privacy and security.
It is acceptable to engage in activities which increase exposure of privacy and security risks when others are informed and provide consent. Misconduct includes advocating for, or encouraging, any activity which increases exposure to the above privacy and security risks without informed consent.
Misconduct further includes targeting another person with any attack vector which would compromise privacy and security, unless that individual has opted into an experiment or test and is informed of the risks and related activities. In addition to the above privacy and security risks, this includes impersonation, spoofing/forging identity, using another person's credentials without consent, and posting or threatening to post personally identifying information ("doxing").
Reinforcing social structures of domination
Misconduct includes any comment or action which discriminates or reinforces social structures of domination, as they relate to color, ancestry, national origin, immigration or naturalization status, actual or presumed belonging to an ethnic group, veteran status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or family status, physical appearance, physical or mental disability, medical condition, education, occupation, income, or socioeconomic status.
Targeting specific groups
Misconduct includes solicitation of input to find someone in the community to speak to the whole of a demographic or other status based on how that individual personally identifies.
Note that comments targeting specific groups, particularly when the individual commenting does not identify as belonging to that group, is potentially left open to perception that such a comment reinforces social structures of domination (as in the section of misconduct above).
References to sexual or other not-suitable-for-work (NSFW) topics
Misconduct includes sexual references or images and other topics generally considered not suitable for work (NSFW).
Misconduct includes repeat invitations to anything when the target audience has directly declined or opted not to reply to an invitation.
These are acceptable repeat invitations:
- Posting an invitation on a regular basis to a regularly occurring event.
- Posting reminders of an upcoming event as the date draws near.
Organizers might guide invitations to specific channels or media by which the community generally prefers to receive such invitations.
These are not acceptable:
- Not taking "no" (or no answer, which here defaults to "no") for an answer, for anything.
- Inviting others to a personal party, unless they have opted in to receiving such invitations.
Discussing national politics in public spaces
Unless a group or event identifies as political in nature, misconduct includes discussion or views of national politics in public spaces of the community. Specific spaces may be identified as preferring political discussion, for which such discussion is acceptable. It is acceptable to advocate for creating spaces in the community in which political discussions are appropriate.
Notwithstanding, discussions about policies are generally acceptable. There is a difference between discussing policies in the context of their impact on the community and sharing reactionary comments to recent headlines. While it is acceptable to share reactions generally, reactions to political headlines or controversial topics are only accepted when a group, event, or space identifies as political in nature.
Disrupting talks, discussion threads, or other events
Misconduct includes sustained disruption of a talk, discussion thread, or other event.
When you organize an event
- Clearly identify yourself as lead organizer or co-organizer, with contact information, so that participants know how to reach you.
- Become familiar with the code of conduct. Reach out to other organizers to discuss topics and find support in implementing the code of conduct.
- Identify and deputize assistant organizers, confirmed participants of trust, who can become familiar with the code of conduct and be prepared to join in taking action as needed.
- Plan how you will respond to misconduct and emergencies.
When there is a health/safety issue
In a health/safety or similar emergency, dial 911.
Prioritize health and safety of participants, above all else. With health/safety issues, follow protocol as directed by emergency service officials. In assault-related cases, as possible and appropriate, advocate for respectful space for the victim. Having to deal with the issue in the open further adds burden to the terrible experience. Seek and support preferences of the victim, and offer to coordinate having other participants of trust walk with the individual, as appropriate and welcomed.
When addressing misconduct
- Seek counsel with other organizers. Operate on consensus. Recuse yourself if you are affected by misconduct. When needed, identify and deputize assistant organizers to assist in resolving an issue. When others have raised concerns about misconduct, confirm which details are okay to share with other organizers.
- Review again the "what to do" sections which speak to the parties involved. Incorporate these steps into your forthcoming plan. Above all, respect preferences shared by those affected by misconduct.
- With fellow organizers, discuss a plan to resolve the issue of misconduct. Document details to support the plan.
- Carry out that plan.
- Follow up to ensure that the air is clear for the person affected, the person with whom you provided feedback on the code of conduct, and for the community.
When you need to ask someone to leave the community
Following the previous section, find consensus with other organizers to remove a participant from the community, when a person:
- compromises others' health or safety
- has repeat issues or patterns of misconduct
- engages in unconscionable behavior
- is identified to participate in a SPLC-designated hate group
- exhibits any reason that causes organizers serious concern
The code of conduct uses Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designations because its definition of a hate group aligns with the intent of the code of conduct:
What is a hate group?
The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.
When misconduct is public
- Be a public presence of good conduct.
- Speak openly in public that something is cause for concern in the code of conduct, but ...
- Act in a manner which is respectful of alternative narratives.
- Take comments to a private setting as early as possible, which may mean before addressing the concern publicly.
- Work collaboratively and prioritize clearing the air for everyone.
- By supporting alternative narratives, shame no one for making a mistake.
- Address malice swiftly and assertively.
- Unpack issues privately where possible.
- Speak publicly to make clear to others that the conduct is indeed misconduct or is otherwise being evaluated as such.
If you have a preference or need to support full participation as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or similar request, simply contact an organizer in advance. Events are sometimes hosted informally at an office or other venue which may not be fully equipped. With some lead time on a request, an organizer can seek to relocate an event to a venue which is appropriately laid out and equipped.
About this code of conduct
You are welcome to ask, respectfully. Note that others will specifically seek out a code of conduct when choosing to participate, and of course, any feedback on the code of conduct is subject to the code of conduct itself.
Why? The rules allow everyone space and respect.
Why is it so long?
The code of conduct names expectations on each member of the community, naming specific behaviors which are acceptable or not. To accomplish this, the code of conduct needs to provide a balance between:
- A short version, which (a) is a quick read, and (b) has enough detail to understand the nature of the long version without having to read the entire long version.
- A long version, which makes very clear how to implement the code of conduct and respond to specific scenarios.
The code of conduct is best served as a single document for visibility and transparency to everyone.
What about ...?
How do I link to the code of conduct?
Simply link to the page that you are viewing. For more detail, find instructions here.
Creative Commons Zero | CC0 | "No Rights Reserved"
To the extent possible under law, contributors to this project have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights of this code of conduct. This work is published from: United States.