Code of Conduct


Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America

Statement of Purpose

Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) is committed to creating meeting spaces that live up to the ideals of social democracy. In keeping with the principles of the national organization, we assert that the equal right of all people to have their voices heard is both a necessary precondition of our work and also its highest purpose. Events at which each member is valued, respected, and able to fully contribute ideas, skills, and labor yield better and more culturally inclusive outcomes, attract and retain critical membership from marginalized communities, and strengthen our mission at large. We therefore adopt the following anti-harassment and anti-discrimination Code of Conduct.

Harassment or discrimination in any form will not be tolerated during the exercise of SMDSA events. This policy applies to all meeting spaces, physical and virtual, public or private, formal and informal. It includes group communication as well as direct, one-on-one communication. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be disciplined and permanently expelled from these events.


Harassment includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Offensive comments, jokes, behavior, or images related to age, disability, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other identity marker.
  • Violence, threats of violence, stalking, intimidation, or sustained disruption of discussions after requests to cease.

General Rules of Conduct

All members shall abide by the following ethical standards of meeting conduct:  

  • Adhere to parliamentary procedure as set forth in Robert’s Rules of Order
  • Silence cell phones and electronic devices
  • Assume good intentions
  • Speak one at a time
  • Keep comments focused and brief
  • Understand that a diversity of opinions is what empowers us
  • Actively welcome, encourage, and remove obstacles to the voicing of opinions by individuals from marginalized groups. If you are from a group that generally enjoys a privileged status in society, be willing to limit your own participation in order to permit participation by members of groups that have not enjoyed a similar privilege. Be aware that lack of privilege often is based on age, disability, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other identity marker. We value the safety of members from marginalized groups more than we value the comfort of privileged individuals.
  • Refrain from dominating any discussion
  • If you usually speak a lot, try to speak less. If you rarely speak, try to speak more
  • Recognize that we all have privilege in certain situations and that, despite our best intentions, all of us hold biases we’re not aware of
  • Understand that awakening to one’s own biases and privilege can feel like oppression
  • Respond to disagreements and difficult feelings with the goal of understanding yourself and others better so that we may move forward in solidarity

Conflict Resolution Procedure:

Differences of opinion are an inevitable part of the democratic process. We encourage all our members to try to better understand each other through open dialog. If you are being harassed or discriminated against, or notice that others are being harassed or discriminated against, and you do not feel comfortable voicing your objections directly with the offending party, or, if voicing your objections has not resolved the issue, you may contact a member of the Steering Committee directly to file a grievance.

  1. Overview
    1. “Grievant” refers to the party filing the grievance. The Grievant may consist of an individual member or multiple members wishing to file the same grievance against the Member(s) in Question.
    2. “Member(s) in Question” refers to the party against whom the grievance is filed.
    3. “Investigator” refers to the person to whom the grievance is reported and who coordinates the grievance process thereafter. The Investigator may be a Co-Chair or, if the grievance is against both Co-Chairs , a member of the Steering Committee.
    4. “Grievance” refers to any interpersonal conflict with any other member(s) of SMDSA that occurs at an SMDSA event or via SMDSA-sponsored communication mediums, and either directly and substantially affects the grievant’s experience with SMDSA, or prevents the grievant from feeling safe or well in the course of SMDSA activities.
    5. While the Steering Committee will strive to not reveal the identity of Grievants without their express consent, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed when pursuing a grievance, due to the inherent need to openly discuss the issue with the Member in Question.
    6. The Grievant may at any time file a grievance with the National DSA.
  2. Informal Grievance (optional)
    1. Grievants are encouraged to approach the Steering Committee for advice and aid in attempting to resolve concerns informally before pursuing a formal grievance.
  3. Formal Grievance – Step One
    1. In order to file a formal grievance, a grievant must inform the Investigator that they are filing a formal grievance against another member of SMDSA.
    2. The Grievant will describe to the Investigator, in writing, the issue(s) that led  to the grievance, including any facts, dates, evidence, or witnesses, as well as the grievant’s ideal resolution.
    3. The Investigator may investigate the facts of the case, but at Step One will not discuss the grievance with anyone other than the Grievant and Member in Question without the express consent of both parties.
    4. The Investigator will bring the concern to the Member in Question and attempt to resolve the dispute.
  4. Formal Grievance – Step Two/Mediation (optional)
    1. If the grievance is not resolved at Step One, the Grievant may elect to continue to Step Two/Mediation.
    2. The Investigator may appoint a mediator who will first meet with each party individually, and then hold a meeting of all parties to mediate the dispute.
    3. If Step Two/Mediation fails, it is at this point that the Investigator meets with the remainder of the Steering Committee to discuss next steps. If the grievance is directed at a member of the Steering Committee, the Steering Committee will discuss with the exclusion of that member.
  5. Discipline
    1. While the intent of the grievance procedure is restorative justice and conflict resolution, it may be required that the Steering Committee propose discipline. The Steering Committee may propose discipline at any stage of the Grievance Procedure.
    2. Proposed discipline may include: temporary suspension from SMDSA activities or communications, community service, education, expulsion, other disciplinary measures, or any combination hereof.
    3. Expulsion should be preceded by multiple attempts to resolve disputes and correct problematic behavior, except in instances of abuse, safety concerns, or clear evidence of systematic bad faith.