Spiralheart is committed to maintaining camp as a safer space, and responding proactively to all complaints is a part of that. If someone is violating the Code of Conduct, or making you feel uncomfortable in some way, a member of the Complaint Response Team needs to know so that they can take action—even if that action is just to listen. This year’s Response Team includes Joan, Ryan and Babka Stu. These are the folks to speak with if a behavioral issue comes up during the week. If an incident does occur, and either you or the individual to whom you report the issue, feel that it is problematic enough, they will record a formal complaint.
Filing a Complaint
All formal complaints will be recorded in an area away from others in order to provide privacy and maintain confidentiality. A member of the Response Team will record your complaint including the following details:
- Name of person against whom complaint is being filed
- Complete description of inappropriate behavior with full situational context
- Location, date and time of incident
- Names of anyone who may have witnessed the incident
- Any physical evidence of incidence on complainant
If the complaint involves inappropriate sexual behavior, the Response Team will ask whether the aggressor was asked to stop the behavior. This does not reflect on the credibility of the complainant—we will not engage in victim blaming. Our intent in asking this is to discern whether the aggressor was told that their behavior was unwanted and unwelcome so that we know whether further education is required. Some people may be unaware of social cues for a variety of reasons (e.g. neurological illness, etc.) or believe “anything goes” at a Pagan event. Therefore we encourage you to communicate when someone is crossing your boundaries, when you are able to do so. If the aggressor was aware, or was told, that their behavior was unwanted and unwelcome then it is sexual misconduct (as described above) and should be filed in a formal complaint.
Both the Response Team member and the complainant will sign the complaint. The person against whom the complaint is filed has a right to know what is in the complaint. Complaints will be kept confidential. Confidentiality means that relevant information will only be disclosed to those involved in the investigation and decision making process.
Both complainants and respondents have the right to ask that a member of the Complaint Response Team be appointed to act as an advocate on their behalf. An advocate’s responsibility is to safeguard the interests of the person who has requested their assistance. An advocate is empowered to speak on that person’s behalf and will provide emotional support when appropriate.
Consequences of Formal Complaints
Our goal in establishing a formal complaint process is to ensure Spiralheart can remove persons of concern from our events. It is not our place to judge anyone, or declare them innocent or guilty. But whether we continue to trust a person after reported instances of misconduct and allow them access to our events, putting our participants’ safety in jeopardy, is another matter. It bears repeating that we will not take any action based on rumor or gossip, but only on actual first-hand reports of misbehavior. After a formal complaint has been filed, it will be processed in the following manner:
- The Response Team is empowered to assess all complaints. They will determine whether it is the first complaint made against this individual, or whether there have been previous related complaints.
- They will assess the level of risk to determine if the individual should be immediately ejected from camp, or if it is minor enough not to cause serious harm. Any witnesses to the incident named by the complainant will be sought out for input.
- If the incident is determined to be a minor infraction, the Response Team is empowered to speak with the individual against whom a complaint has been filed (in complete confidentiality). The Response Team will ask for their side of the story, whether their behavior was deemed inappropriate or unwelcome, and assess whether the person can learn from the situation. They may be asked to read the definitions of unwelcome behavior as detailed in our Code of Conduct above. The Response Team will inform the person that their behavior will be monitored going forward and that further violations may lead to ejection from the camp and/or being barred from future events.
- In cases where ejection from camp is a possibility (the behavior is determined to be a clear violation of our Code of Conduct, represented serious threat of physical/mental harm, has recurred in several independent complaints, is confirmed by witnesses, admitted by the perpetrator, etc.) the Response Team will gather as many members of the Spiralheart board of Organizers as possible who will then use consensus process to make that decision.
- If the board decides to eject an individual from camp, they will be asked to leave immediately. This decision will be recorded in our records.
- Following the event the board will discuss whether the individual will be welcome at future events.