[hackerspaces] Safe Space Policies?

Alan Fay emptyset at freesideatlanta.org
Sun Jan 26 14:57:59 CET 2014

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:31 AM, Brendan Halliday <wodann at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thoughts/experiences please?

Freeside has an anti-harassment policy that was not without some

I based it off the sample conference anti-harassment policy on the Geek
Feminism Wiki:

There were a few key things that got our members to understand and accept
the policy.  The first is that our leadership spent a good six months
correcting any harassing behavior we heard about, in some cases certain
repeat offender members left, and we made it a point to take lead during
our Tuesday night open house presenting the leadership as not tolerating
harassment.  The second is that due to this work, we were able to increase
our female membership, and so we had women on our member mailing list that
were able to explain, defend, and augment the leadership position.  Third,
we approached the subject of having an anti-harassment policy in the
context of one day growing our space to 150 members, and that diversity was
valued, and the whole point is to be exposed to different points of view
and facilitate learning from each other, so when our members bought into
that vision, an anti-harassment policy makes more sense.

After all that, we introduced the policy, and the controversy was minimal.
 We created the environment for acceptance first.

My advice would be, if your goal is a respectful, diverse hackerspace that
attracts women and minorities to become members and contribute, then
cultivate that environment first.  A policy is not going to magically
create it for you.  This is critical, too: leadership MUST set an example
in this area.  Be respectful of ALL your members, online and offline - I
would even go so far as to say as a leader, don't argue with any member on
a mailing list.  Talk to your members in person.

Finally, you have to maintain the policy.  Enforce it, warn members, and
also carefully screen people that seek membership.  We've put the brakes on
a couple of people that were clearly never going to respect women, and
shown them the door.
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