Safer Spaces Policy

Below is the Safer Spaces Policy of Collectively Blue (CB). The policy is written primarily to regulate how the board deals with incidents compromising the safety of all members of our community. If you have felt unsafe at any time at an event sponsored by CB, please contact a member of the current Safer Spaces team.  You may also choose to use the “Contact Us” form on our website.

 

Policy effective May 2021

Safer Spaces Mission Statement

In order to provide a safer space for all attendees, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, disability status, nationality, age, relationship configuration, or any other demographic, this policy lays an operational framework for providing and maintaining Collectively Blue (CB) facilities and operations as well as mechanisms to respond to situations that violate our conduct policy.

We acknowledge that Safer Spaces policies have historically prioritised white women to the detriment of Black dancers and other dancers of color, which is particularly problematic given that Blues is a Black American dance. Collectively Blue commits to celebrate black voices in our community and to amplify our belief that Black Lives Matter. Anyone who shares those goals with us is welcome in the space. If you are still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – and all non-Black attendees are assumed to be still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – we ask that you use this event as a place to keep your mind open, listen with empathy, and let your dancing and your presence become a stepping stone in supporting this urgent message. Racism will not be tolerated at this event. If you experience racist behaviour please get in touch with safer spaces immediately.

 

The Policy

CB will not tolerate harassment of any kind, including but not limited to sexual harassment, verbal abuse, assault, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism, or defamation of character.  Any person at a CB hosted event found acting in a way that violates these values will be asked to stop and/or may be ejected from the event. In the case of a major offense (as defined below) a person may be banned from attendance at future events for a period of time, as determined through the process outlined in the consequences section.

The CB Code of Conduct (Appendix A) is expected to be followed by all attendees and will be enforced at all events.  CB recommends anyone attending a CB event review the Code of Conduct. It is available online and a physical copy is on display at every CB hosted event.

 

Infractions, Possible Actions, and Consequences

Infractions

Infractions may occur during CB hosted events (virtual or in-person), non-CB hosted events between members of the dance community, or online/ on social media.

Minor Offenses – These include but are not limited to:

  • Illegal drug or underage alcohol use at our in person events
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Verbal harassment
  • Inappropriate touch, regardless if accidental
  • Attempts to circumvent ejection/ban or intentionally aiding someone in doing so
  • Violations of the Code of Conduct
  • Violations of CDC/public health guidance

Major Offenses – These include but are not limited to:

  • Repeated instances of any minor offenses
  • Use of racial slurs
  • Extreme violations of the code of conduct
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Any criminal action

The safer spaces committee and the board reserve the right to use their judgement in any particular situation. Each situation is unique, and so the committee will consider the context and specifics of the incident when making decisions.

 

Possible In-The-Moment Actions

The following parties are empowered to take actions on behalf of the CB code of conduct and safer spaces policy: hosts (property owners or named individuals on rental contract), trained report-takers, the Safer Spaces Committee. At CB events, non-CB events involving members of the CB community, and online, actions may be taken by these individuals at any time without consultation by members of the safer spaces committee and/or the board.

Actions – These include but are not limited to:

  • Speaking with an offending party and requesting them to cease
  • Speaking with an offending party educating them about ways to avoid repeating the offense
  • Speaking with the offending party to understand any misunderstandings or improper language in virtual discussions
  • Creating an incident report
  • Ejecting a person from an event
  • Calling social work and other de-escalation resources*
  • Calling 911 for an emergency event*
  • Calling the safer spaces director for consult

*We commit to not calling the police in favor of de-escalation resources whenever possible. De-escalation resources would be used in instances where we believe a mental health crisis is occurring (i.e. someone is threatening harm to self or others but is not actively doing so) or in instances where someone needs public health or social work support (i.e. unhoused individuals who may need connection with food, shelter, or safety resources, substance use crises). We have an internal list of de-escalation resources that can be shared with dancers upon request. De-escalation resources vary by location, as many are county-based.

*Events that we believe to be sufficient emergency to warrant calling 911 are as follows: accidental medical emergency, fire emergency, and situations of active violence where we believe loss of life or trauma are expected outcomes (ex. assault (with or without a weapon), sexual assault). As relevant, we will request on 911 calls that only paramedic or fire resources be sent, and request that police are not sent, but we do not have control over whether 911 dispatchers choose to send police.

 

Possible Consequences 

Consequences will be decided by the SSC and reported to the board. In cases when the SSC recommends a permanent ban, the board will vote to approve that decision by simple majority.

Consequences include but are not limited to:

  • Temporary or permanent ban from all CB events
  • Disclosure of the ban to other dance organizations, potentially including the nature of the offense(s) [see reciprocity statement below]
  • Requiring further training in related topic (i.e. racial bias training)
  • Removal from leadership position (i.e. teaching, hosting, board member etc.)
  • Reporting to the police*

* We cannot report on behalf of other people. For example, in cases of assault, we cannot report for a survivor. We can report for the business and as private citizens. Anything affecting the business can be reported as a volunteer/ employee, anything else will be reported as a private citizen or witness. The primary example of something we would need to report to police, on behalf of the LLC, would be if someone were found to be providing alcohol or other illegal substances to minors at our events. If we need to report this, we will do so as a non-emergency report.

 

Reciprocity

Collectively Blue reserves the right to share information, including but not limited to, bans, depersonalized summaries of reports, and the nature of offenses with other organizations. Collectively Blue reserves the right to ban individuals based on reports from other organizations.

 

Confidentiality 

We take confidentiality very seriously, and we understand that individuals’ physical safety may be at stake when making a report. The following information from any report will remain confidential to the Safer Spaces Committee:

  • Name of the person who made the report
  • Name of the person who was harmed
  • Specifics about the incident itself

The following information may be shared in order to inform the Planning Board, the community, other organizers, or other parties who need to know in order to keep the community safe:

  • Name of the person who violated the policy
  • General nature of the transgression (i.e. “was giving alcohol to minors”)
  • When instituting a permanent ban, or in other cases where an action or consequence taken requires disclosure: patterns of behavior or a specific violation

All members of the Safer Spaces Committee (SSC) are bound to confidentiality about all reports and records of which they have knowledge. This confidentiality requirement does not end when they cease membership, and any violation therein will be treated as a major offense. If information becomes public, members of the committee should refer to the Records Management section. Options for when reports may be made available is also in the Records Management section of this document.

 

The Reporting Process

Summary

Any incident brought to the attention of any trained person must be recorded regardless of that person’s opinion on the significance of the event. Reporting forms can be found in the cash box, online at the Collectively Blue website, and at https://forms.gle/X8At3M7R8iapEsLH8

When taking a report, the highest and best option is to write down as much information as possible, including the reporter’s name. The second option is to write down as much information as possible but exclude the reporter’s name and allow for anonymous reporting. If the reporter doesn’t want anything written down, the third option is to call the safer spaces director and verbally share the information.

Reports should only be taken by individuals who have received training. The safer spaces director will host an annual training for volunteers to learn how to take reports with trauma-informed active listening skills. Volunteers will wear some kind of designation at CB events (wristbands, buttons, etc.).

Whenever a report is taken, the safer spaces director will be notified immediately. If the safer spaces director is not present at the event, they will be informed via text or phone call.

Should a Report Implicate a Member of the Safer Spaces Committee, Trained Reporting Person, Board Member, or Owner

In the case that a report implicates a member of the safer spaces committee, trained reporting person, or other board member, the remaining members of the board will designate a new committee to handle the report, made with any non-implicated members of the committee and additional members as needed. This new committee should include input from the owner of CB, as they are financially and legally liable. All responsibilities, access, privileges, and duties of the accused individual are suspended until the replacement committee comes to a decision.

In the case that a report implicates the owner of CB, if the owner is willing to work with the SSC on a resolution, the chair of the Planning Board will temporarily take over as many of the owner’s responsibilities as is feasible (ex. presence at community events, decision making within the board, event planning, etc.) until the conflict is resolved. Some duties may not be removed from the owner, such as tax liability and state LLC licensing, as the SSC does not have legal authority to remove the owner from those duties. If the owner is implicated and is unwilling to work with the board to resolve the conflict, the planning board reserves the right to form a new organization.

 

Three possible outcomes include, but are not limited to:

  1. Determine the report is insufficient to warrant action at the time. In such cases, the accused will return to their duties
  2. Determine the report to be sufficient reason to remove the accused from their position and/ or the board, but not constitute a ban from Collectively Blue events or other disciplinary action.
  3. Determine the report to be sufficient for a ban from all Collectively Blue events or other disciplinary action, including removal from the board and/or the safer spaces committee.

 

Records Management

  1. Whenever a report is taken, the safer spaces director will be notified immediately. If the safer spaces director is not present at the event, they will be informed via text or phone call. The safer spaces director has one week to retrieve the report and meet with the safer spaces committee to discuss further action. In the case the safer spaces director cannot do so, they will notify the reporter about the delay and/or another member of the committee will be appointed.
  2. The current safer spaces committee is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the record. All past members are held to an expectation of confidentiality.
  3. Reports will be retained for a minimum of 7 years.
  4. In the case that the information contained in the record becomes public due to the actions of people outside the SSC and Planning Board (e.g. a victim makes a public announcement about it), the Chair of the Planning Board, the Owner, and the SSD will draft a public statement with the minimum necessary details.  Any member or former member of the SSC aware of details around a given incident should either refrain entirely from comment or exercise extreme caution in that process.
  5. In the case of a permanent ban, the banned individual will be added to the list of banned people. This list will be available to those who need to know (i.e. door volunteers). Door volunteers will not be expected to enforce this ban, but will be expected to alert the on duty report-taker should a banned person show up at an event.

 

Meetings

  1. The safer spaces committee will meet within a week of a report, virtually or in person. Should it not be able to meet, the reporter will be notified of the delay and given the date of the meeting.
  2. The safer spaces committee will meet at least once a year to review reports, opportunities for improvement, feedback from the community, and any necessary changes to the policy. This policy is a living document and should be revised to reflect the needs of the community.

 

Appendix A: Code of Conduct for In-Person CB Events

(You can see and link directly to the Code of Conduct here as well)

 

Adapted with Permission from Ujima Blues/BluesGeek

Collectively Blue provides space to dance, relax, and have a good time. In order to make this possible, here are some guidelines for being an awesome community member and doing your part to make this scene even better! We want every single person, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, religion, etc. to be able to feel welcomed and comfortable in our spaces

We strive to include components in our events that celebrate Black voices in our community and amplify our belief that Black Lives Matter. Anyone who shares those goals with us is welcome in the space. If you are still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – and all non-Black attendees are assumed to be still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – we ask that you use this event as a place to keep your mind open, listen with empathy, and let your dancing and your presence become a stepping stone in supporting this urgent message. Racism will not be tolerated at our events. If you experience racist behaviour please get in touch with safer spaces immediately!

  1. I accept that I am responsible for my enjoyment of the event and will contribute to making a community that is safe, open, honest, and enjoyable for all involved. I recognize that the purpose of social partner dancing is to have fun while connecting with another person. I will make the best effort to be attentive to my dance partner and enjoy each dance with each person regardless of background, race, gender, beliefs, or skill level.
  2. As with everything else in life, I understand that consent is important. I will obtain consent before taking any action, whether grabbing someone to dance or anything more. I understand that the social dance floor is not the appropriate place to make advances on someone before receiving consent. If I think there is chemistry beyond the dance, I will wait for the dance to end before asking about it. I understand that consenting to a dance is not the same as consenting to anything else.
  3. I am allowed to say no to a dance for any reason. Attendees are encouraged to set boundaries with words!
  4. I am encouraged to actively participate in building the dance community. To do so, I will seek out new people to dance with or talk to. I can also foster connections by introducing or reintroducing myself with each new dance.
  5. I understand that every dance with another person is a privilege. I understand that asking someone to dance is a request, not a demand, and that they do not owe me an explanation of their reasons. I will receive any acceptance or rejection with grace.
  6. I will be mindful of myself, my dance partner, and my surroundings when I dance. I will not attempt large moves, lifts, kicks, or other movements that may cause injury and/or discomfort to my dance partner, myself, or those around me. I will do my best not bump or step on other dancers. I will be gracious if I do and still gracious if someone does it to me. I will be mindful of how my alcohol consumption and how that relates to how I carry myself in the social space.
  7. I will not teach on the social dance floor. I will not offer unsolicited advice about someone’s dancing, and any practicing with my dance partner will be done off to the side or in another room to leave the dance floor open for social dancing. If someone asks me for dance advice, I will take that interaction off the social floor to keep the space open for dancing.
  8. I will take care of my hygiene. I will bring towels, hygiene products, and spare changes of clothing to ensure I look, smell, and feel clean. I will check my sweat and body odor on a regular basis and clean myself up as necessary.
  9. It is okay for me to tell my dance partner if something they do causes me pain or discomfort. I will make my best effort to inform them and give them an opportunity to change it. I understand that communication can clear up misunderstandings before they build. I recognize that people are sometimes unaware that their actions are uncomfortable until they are informed.
  10. I will strictly respect the physical and personal boundaries of my fellow attendees on and off the dance floor. If I receive feedback from my dance partner about something that causes them pain or discomfort, I will take it graciously. I will respect all communication of boundaries, such as requests for space or to end engagement of any kind.
  11. I will respect the stated identity of all attendees. I will make every effort to use the names and pronouns given by the other attendees. If I am informed that a term or phrase makes others feel unsafe, I will immediately stop using it. I will not use misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory language.
  12.  I will bring inappropriate actions that I personally experience or observe to the attention of the organizers. We are here to provide a safe, welcoming space for us to engage in an activity we all enjoy. We cannot address problems that we do not know about!
  13. I will be respectful of the teachers, staff members, DJs, and organizers. I will make every effort to get to classes and workshops early. If I am unable to get to class on time, I will obtain permission before joining. I will respect and focus on the material that is being taught and not try to teach or redirect focus during someone else’s class. I will keep all outside conversations to a minimum while there is a lesson going on. I am free to inform the DJs, teachers, and organizers of any positive feedback. I am also free to provide constructive feedback, but I will do so either through surveys or in private after receiving consent.
  14.  I will not come to an in-person event if I know I am sick with something contagious and transmissible. We understand that sometimes you may not always know you are sick and contagious (ex. sometimes what feels like a headache is actually the onset of the flu). If you know you are sick, stay home. We will dearly miss you and see you next time!

 

 

 

 

If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, you have been harmed, or someone present is a danger to themselves or others, please report this to a Collectively Blue Safer Spaces representative (denoted by an illuminated blue wristband or a name tag). We treat these issues with the strictest confidentiality. CB pledges to take reports on good faith and respect the privacy of those who choose to report anonymously. Your courage in coming forward can keep incidents from being repeated.

Underage consumption of alcohol or use of illegal substances during our events is strictly prohibited and will result in immediate expulsion. Additionally, any individual providing alcohol to minors will also be expelled from the event. We strongly encourage minors under 16 to have an accompanying parent or guardian – we are happy to waive admission if you are at the event to observe a minor.

 

A note about affirmative consent, personal space, and flirtation:

Recognizing that sometimes people choose to pursue romantic or sexual relations within the scene, anyone attempting to flirt or hook up at an event should keep in mind that only “yes” means “yes”.  If we receive reports of a person pursuing another after being told ‘no’ it will be treated as sexual harassment.  If consent is something that seems vague to you, there’s a pretty simple explanation in this video.  Consent can be more complex than that, but that’s a good place to start.

Blues is a physically engaging and physically close dance.  This will be taken into account as context for all reports.  Given this context, accidental inappropriate touch may happen. This does not make the dance an invitation for unwanted intimacy.  Grinding and groping are not part of blues.  Consensual ‘making-out’ is not appropriate for the dance floor.

 

Appendix B: Virtual Collectively Blue Event Code of Conduct 

We strive to include components in our events that celebrate Black voices in our community and amplify our belief that Black Lives Matter. Anyone who shares those goals with us is welcome in the space. If you are still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – and all non-Black attendees are assumed to be still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement – we ask that you use this event as a place to keep your mind open, listen with empathy, and let your dancing and your presence become a stepping stone in supporting this urgent message. Racism will not be tolerated at our events. If you experience racist behaviour please get in touch with safer spaces immediately!

We want to be mindful of how to be a good attendee in the virtual format, so here are some community guidelines for our virtual events! By attending our virtual events, you agree to abide by these guidelines and our Safer Spaces Policy.

Collectively Blue’s Code of Conduct applies to all of our virtual content and platforms, including but not limited to: spoken content, messages written in the chat to all participants, direct messages, name tags, things visible in your video, Facebook posts, and virtual backgrounds. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind, including but not limited to sexual harassment, verbal abuse, assault, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism, or defamation of character. Any person at a CB hosted event found acting in a way that violates these values will be asked to stop and/or ejected from the event.

Since Zoom is a multi-person platform, you will be muted upon entry to the Zoom Room. Please leave your mic on mute unless called on or unmuted by a CB moderator. Moderators will have the ability to mute individuals if necessary.

Sharing video is welcomed! We miss seeing everyone and would love to see your lovely faces! Feel free to rename yourself (but please keep it identifiable) or add your pronouns to your name! Moderators will have a “Safety Mod” tag by their names and will identify themselves at the beginning of the event. 

Using speaker view will feature the video of whoever is speaking, whereas gallery view shows all videos. We prefer speaker view for lectures, but feel free to use whichever feels more enjoyable for you.

Please use the Participants and Chat windows to interact with us and other viewers. The Participants window will allow you to do things like raise your hand for a question, thumbs up, thumbs down, and other non-verbal reactions. The Chat window can be used to send messages to all participants or to specific individuals. Please use the Chat window to ask questions and talk to other participants! If there is a Q+A session with an event, moderators will facilitate questions between attendees and the speaker via the Chat. You are free to ask questions in the Chat at any time, and the moderator will compile a list of questions for the Q+A. 

Please also use the Chat/Direct Message to tell a moderator if you see or hear anything that you feel violates our Code of Conduct, or if you receive inappropriate direct messages from other attendees! Moderators have the ability to remove individuals from the event if they violate our code of conduct. Moderators may also follow up after the event with individuals who violate the code of conduct. 

See our entire Safer Spaces Policy at https://www.collectivelyblue.com/policies/safer-spaces-policy If you have questions or concerns, please email the CB Safer Spaces Committee at collectivelybluesaferspaces@gmail.com. To file an anonymous report, please access the google form on our Safer Spaces Policy page or here https://forms.gle/X8At3M7R8iapEsLH8

Our safer spaces committee is made up of white or white-passing women and we acknowledge that this may create a barrier to reporting. For North Star Blues, a BIPOC advocate is available for people of color who need that support. If you are a person of color and want to specifically speak to the BIPOC advocate please just ask our other committee members to direct you to that advocate. If you would prefer to report anonymously you can specify in our anonymous reporting google form that you are a person of color who would like to work with a Black advocate. For our other year-round events, we are seeking out additional resources and support for BIPOC community members and will update our policies and staff pages as we enact changes.

 

Appendix C: Definitions

Collectively Blue (CB): The parent organization, registered as an LLC that is currently owned by Emily (Lindy) Bowen.

CB Events / CB-Sponsored Activities: Any event planned by the CB board is a CB event. This includes but is not limited to lessons, dances, house parties, regardless of venue. Events must be advertised as CB events, these events may be in person or virtual. This does not include private events such as private lessons or informal social engagements not planned by the board.

Ban: A ban excludes a person from all CB Events. In the event such a person attempts to circumvent such a ban and gains entry to an event, they will be ejected from the events without a refund.

Board: The organizing body of CB. The board elects the Safer Spaces Committee (SSC).  A person is considered to be a member of the board if they attended 6 planning meetings in 12 months.

Report: A report is a document recording a single incident of misconduct. Reports are kept confidential.

Record: The record is the summary of all reports to date, actions taken, and notes from SSC meetings. The record is kept confidential.

Safer Spaces Director (SSD): A member of the board responsible for enforcing this policy, keeping all records, retrieving all reports, and chairing the SSC. The SSD should hold a basic knowledge of crisis management techniques.

Safer Spaces Committee (SSC): A group of three people, chaired by the SSD.