Hi Lindsay,

I realize this is a tricky topic, so apologies in advance if my brevity comes off as bruskness.

These two suggestions work for Amherst Contra.

As a proxy complaint comes in, a board member would seek out the source. Anonymous complaints are permitted, and a high level of ensuring that we ask open-ended questions, and not leading questions.

We also wear board member buttons at dances and make regular announcements about us being available for any reason. Usually 4-7 members of our board attend any dance.

You might speak privately to Will Loving, our lead organizer, if you're interested in more specifics.

I would also caution about making such definitive statements as "just an accusation". In my experience, where there's smoke, there's fire. For every accusation, there's five people who are too uncomfortable to speak up.

That said, I have seen the success of proactive addressing of issues. The biggest benefit is simple:

Address it early when it's small, and not a huge deal. Maybe it's a simple misunderstanding. Maybe the person needed a clear boundary drawn. But wait until there's a pile of complaints, and you've already lost dancers and the resolution will need to be more severe for the offender.

Best regards,
Ron Blechner

On Sep 9, 2015 10:08 AM, "Lindsay Morris via Callers" <callers@lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
Chris Weiler's Positive Solutions on dealing with problem dancers, and the CDU Policy are thoughtful and useful documents.

We have a different problem here.

One woman often complains to board members about men she sees as creepers or sexual predators. She reports their misbehavior on behalf of their victims. The victims don't initiate these reports.* 

Many others don't see these men as creepy or inappropriate.  Recently one of the "victims" clarified that her discomfort with the man was a year ago and she'd long ago dealt with it to her satisfaction.  The man in question had heard only rumors that some nameless woman was unhappy about some nameless thing he'd done.

This woman also publicly asked that young women who feel harassed should talk to her about it.  We feel that's the Board's job, not hers.

It seems that this woman is fishing for - or even inventing - "naughty-dancer" problems. 

When a married man gets accused of being a sexual predator, his wife has to wonder if it's true. This adds to any marital tensions they may already have.  So, while this woman is not actually punching anybody in the face, it seems to me that she's committing violence. 

How should we handle this?
  • I think we need a "No proxy complaints" policy - i.e., the victim has to speak up (and then our process will usually fix simple miscommunication issues).
  • We need to clearly identify board members, so genuine victims know who to talk to.
But does anybody have other ideas about preventing one person's issues from  poisoning the atmosphere of a mostly friendly dance?

* I know, victims often have a hard time stepping up and complaining, so advocacy may be a good thing.  But that's a different discussion.  In these situations, there's no victim; there's no predator; there's just an accusation with little to back it up.  

Callers mailing list