School of the Alternative Community Agreement

This is a living, breathing document. We encourage community members to work with us to constantly nurture this agreement so that is can be representational of all of past, present, and future participants.

We are in full support of individual expression and critical thinking and believe that creative ideas can best be realized in spaces where an anti-oppressive policy is nurtured.

We are here to support and facilitate a greater variety of voices and thoughts. We only take issue when those freedoms take the form of physical, emotional, or social violence or oppression.

We define oppressive behavior as any kind of uninvited physical contact, sexual or otherwise, as well as other behaviors that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic, ableist, classist, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory on the basis of physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender presentation, ability, or cultural, economic, ethnic, national, educational, or religious background.

What hurts one of us hurts all of us.

• Don’t assume the race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, history with violence etc. of others. Instead, ask if someone is open to engaging in dialogue about identity. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to answer a question.

• Try not to use oppressive language. If you make a mistake (and we all sometimes do), be open to being called in and/or apologizing.

*Oppressive language includes language that uses an identity or trait belonging to a certain group as a negative quality, or that trivializes experiences of violence or marginalization.

• Respect everyone’s pronouns and try not to make assumptions regarding gender and sexuality.

We come together as a group of unique individuals who may be here for similar reasons, but who have varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. When these differences are addressed in insensitive or uninformed ways, it can lead to unintentional forms of aggression (microaggressions included).

• Respect the physical and emotional boundaries of others - remember that consent is not always implied. Always ask for explicit verbal consent before engaging or touching someone, and be consistently mindful of others’ safety and comfort.

• Stay attuned to your own needs and remember that you are welcome to take time and space away from the group   

• If you don’t want to talk or answer a question, say so. Try to vocalize what you need or ask if someone is comfortable advocating for you.

• Respect the confidentiality of others. Respect the privacy of information and experiences that others share with you.  

We hope to create an atmosphere of mutual learning and understanding that begins with our community remaining open to conversations about privilege and difference. We all have an individual responsibility to expand our intersectional understanding of the world, self educate, and be conscious of our privilege. It’s important to navigate these sensitive conversations without putting the burden of education solely on marginalized people. There are many productive and thoughtful ways to approach these topics and we hope to create an environment of learning where vulnerability and “not knowing” are accompanied by the desire to grow and listen.

• We encourage you to self educate, (research unfamiliar terms, etc.) or reach out to a point person if you feel confused

• Everyone (including you) will make mistakes.

• We are all here to learn, and we all have something to offer

We know that conflict and critical thinking can lead us to develop and improve both individually and collectively. With the interest of nurturing each other and our community, we welcome compassionate conversation when conflict arises.

We do prioritize: care over aggression, action over anger, and always hope to allow for patience and space for understanding between one another.  

Our community does not tolerate any form of oppressive behavior. We feel it is important to acknowledge the ways that marginalized populations experience oppression in a way that not all of us do. Collectively, we prioritize the comfort and experience of those who are rarely given priority because of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability, age, size, etc.

*SotA retains the right to remove community members for oppressive behavior.