I just wanted to point out that I pulled a bunch of useful documents off of the Recess website for easy access here. See "Documents" tab above.
I noticed that there was a facebook post that expressed concern regarding how Recess handles and responds to sexual assault in the dance community. I know that many people in the community appreciate the care and work that Recess has put in to developing protocols and responses - myself included. And, that some people do not agree with the policies.
I hope that each of you take the time to look over the 3 documents posted to decide for yourselves whether or not you are in alignment with culture of consent and accountability Recess fosters at their events and with in the organization. I think it would be truly useful for Recess community (especially those with concerns) to know and understand what the Recess protocols are. Divergent values is often the root of much conflict in communities. I can see that some of the critique may be rooted in not agreeing with the protocols or the values behind them. And, my guess is that much of it may be a simple lack of familiarity with Recess’s policies/protocols.
I have been in conversation with Justin the last few weeks about Recess's history, and, getting to know the policies. Vetting them on behalf of my own rigid standards for feminism, inclusivity, community building, commitment to reconciliation, care for those who have been harmed, and also inclusion of restorative justice philosophies (not punitive justice).
I personally have never seen more extensive and thorough plan for dealing with transgressors, abusers and issues around non-consensual conduct and boundary-crossing. No policy or protocol can be exhaustive and complete while also being adaptable and acknowledging to the complexities of such issues. Recess’s policy addresses the complexity of situations where harm, abuse and sexual assault have occurred with a clear commitment to supporting those who have been harmed by potential Recess participants and, also, a commitment to mitigating the potential for further harm by that individuals of concern while attending Recess. Which is rare to find in most dance festivals, events, workshops and community spaces. No event or organization can guarantee the complete safety of its participants from the actions and behaviors of others while at their events. Recess has put a lot of care in to curbing the potential for problematic sexual behavior or harm through : 1) protocols for monitoring problematic persons/behaviors, 2) Clear definitions of what is and isn’t acceptable consent practices in Recess spaces and 3) Clear protocols for dealing with problems if/when they arise 4) Policies that keep the wants and needs of people who have been harmed at the center of the process.
I would love to see this dance community - and most of the communities I am a part of - vetting the organizations (and organizers of events) around their sexual assault policies and protocols for the integrity, care and clarity that I see in Recess’s policies the way I have gotten the chance to do this week for Recess community.
Because this conversation takes place in the context of the 4 Recess Organizers departure from Recess, I think that it is important to note that these written protocols are what Recess has been using for the past few years. They were more formally written as a Recess policy in the Spring of 2017. These policies were developed in oversight and in accordance with the values and responses that Recess - as a team - supports - not just a the policies of the current members.
I sense some frustration and disagreement with how Recess has handled community members who have a known history of transgressions attending Recess. (Not about how Recess has handled incidents of sexual assault that have happened at recess events.) It is my understanding that the concern is about the decision to not “ban” certain people from Recess. Though I can not speak directly to the concerns of past incidents, I can say that I see a policy that gives a lot of priority and care to people who have been harmed and creates a intense process of scrutiny, accountability, conversation, and community involvement in order for a person of concern to be at Recess events.
My guess is that much of the concern and critique is rooted in disagreements with values behind the Recess Policies. In such divergence of values/ethics between individual community members and Recess, it is up to each person to choose how, when and if to participate in Recess events in congruence or in conflict with its values and policies.
I personally would encourage a generous look into the Recess policies before boycotting Recess over concern of how Recess handles incidents of sexual assault and/or known transgressors. And, encourage a comparison of their policies to those of other similar organizations and events that you attend and support.
I hope the posted documents and my personal perspective can be helpful to you as you discern whether or not you are in alignment with Recess and it's Policies. I think the next step for many of us is, given any congruence or conflict with Recess’s policies, to what extent “participation”, “non-participation” or “action against” is appropriate for you personally.
Thanks for taking the time to read my words. I know they are not perfect - nor am I. But, my hope is they are useful and supportive to some. I know they will not be to all. It is an offering. Take what works for you and leave behind what does not.