CW18 - Staff Procedure For Handling Reported Harassment

This procedure has been adopted from the Ada Initiative's guide titled "workshop anti-harassment/Responding to Reports”.

Be sure to have a good understanding of our Code of Conduct policy, which can be found here.

Also have a good understanding of what is expected from an attendee that wants to report a harassment incident. These guidelines can be found here.

Try to get as much of the incident in written form (e.g. paper or email) by the reporter. If you cannot, transcribe it yourself as it was told to you. The important information to gather include the following:

  • Identifying information (name/badge number) of the participant doing the harassing

  • The behaviour that was in violation

  • The approximate time of the behaviour (if different than the time the report was made)

  • The circumstances surrounding the incident

  • Other people involved in the incident

Prepare an initial response to the incident. This initial response is very important and will set the tone for Collaborations Workshop. Depending on the severity/details of the incident, please follow these guidelines:

  • If there is any general threat to attendees or the safety of anyone including workshop staff is in doubt, summon security or the Police.

  • Offer the victim a private place to sit

  • Ask "is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?" (if so, arrange for someone to fetch this person)

  • Ask them "how can I help?"

  • Provide them with the following list of emergency contacts if they need help later

    • University Security Service: +44 113 343 5494

    • Leeds District Police HQ: +44 192 437 5222

    • Police (non-emergency number): 101

    • Police (emergency number): 999

  • If everyone is presently physically safe, involve the Police or security only at a victim's request.

There are also some guidelines as to what not to do as an initial response:

  • Do not overtly invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that you want them to do so, and is therefore coercive. "If you're OK with it [pursuing the complaint]" suggests that you are by default pursuing it and is not coercive.

  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility

  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is the staff's responsibility.

Once something is reported the workshop chair and at least two of the workshop staff should meet. The main objectives of this meeting is to find out the following:

  • What happened?

  • Are we doing anything about it?

  • Who is doing those things?

  • When are they doing them?

After the staff meeting and discussion, have a staff member (preferably the workshop chair or an workshop staff if available) communicate with the alleged harasser. Make sure to inform them of what has been reported about them.

Allow the alleged harasser to give their side of the story to the staff. After this point, if report stands, let the alleged harasser know what actions will be taken against them.

Some things for the staff to consider when dealing with Code of Conduct offenders (note that the list below is not a requirement and only applies if the report deems it necessary):

  • General attendees

    • Warning the harasser to cease their behaviour and that any further reports will result in sanctions

    • Requiring that the harasser avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, their victim for the remainder of the event

    • Requiring that the harasser immediately leave the event and not return

    • If applicable, inform them that we will not honour any travel claims related to their attending the event.

  • Speakers

    • Ending a talk that violates the policy early

    • Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the policy

    • Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give (further) talks at the event

  • Staff

    • Calling for the resignation of the harasser from their responsibilities

Give accused attendees a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime the report stands. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to encourage an apology from the harasser.

It is very important how we deal with the incident publicly. Our policy is to make sure that everyone aware of the initial incident is also made aware that it is not according to policy and that official action has been taken - while still respecting the privacy of individual attendees. When speaking to individuals (those who are aware of the incident, but were not involved with the incident) about the incident it is a good idea to keep the details out.

Depending on the incident, the workshop chair or their designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the workshop chair or someone delegated authority from the workshop chair should make any announcements.

If some attendees were angered by the incident, it is best to apologise to them that the incident occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to the workshop chair or one of  the event staff. It will be dealt with accordingly.

All reports of Code of Conduct violations should be made directly to:

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