It is important for us to ensure that the conduct of DSA members is in keeping with DSA’s core values of liberty, equality, solidarity, as well as DSA’s commitment to restructuring gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable and not oppressive within the context of building a diverse working class movement. As such, we are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.
The aim of this Code of Conduct is to give you guidance regarding the key issues that you need to be aware of, and the standards by which you are expected to behave as a member of DSA. This Code applies to all DSA-related functions and events, including meetings, committees, working groups, rallies, webinars, meetings, conferences, and all public-facing events.
B. Basic Principles
- Members shall not engage in harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, class, age, or profession. DSA’s harassment policy may be found here: https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/harassment-policy-resolution-33/.
- Rigorous debate is one of the hallmarks of any socialist organization. Such debate elicits the fullest political commitment and input from each member in order to develop a unified national perspective. We expect debates to be conducted with civility and respect, as comrades committed to the same struggle.
- Debate and disagreements sometimes lead to conflicts. When handled properly, conflicts can lead to personal and organizational growth. If handled poorly, conflicts often have a detrimental impact on DSA’s cause, members, our community, and DSA itself.
C. Code of Conduct Standards and Values
As a member of DSA, I will:
- Uphold the integrity and reputation of DSA by ensuring that my professional and personal conduct is demonstrably consistent with DSA’s values and standards.
Recognizing my role in DSA’s mission to challenge injustice in all of its forms, and to build economic and social democracy, I will respect all peoples’ rights, and I will contribute to an organizing and working environment characterized by mutual respect, integrity, dignity and non-discrimination, by, at a minimum:
- refraining from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech;
- participating in an authentic and active way;
- exercising consideration and in my speech and actions;
- sharing analysis and opinions rather than accusations;
- complying with applicable Community Agreements during meetings and other events;
- addressing conflicts and disagreements in a professional and respectful manner, and seeking assistance from an HGO or DSA chapter leader or staff when necessary. This does not require that a member who is the subject of harassment or other conduct that potentially violates DSA’s anti-harassment policy attempt to deal with a harasser.
2. Treat all people with respect and dignity and challenge any form of harassment, discrimination, intimidation, exploitation or abuse.
I will ensure that my relationships and behavior in the context of my role as a DSA member are not exploitative, abusive or corrupt in any way.
I will not use any grievance process–or encourage or assist anyone in using any grievance process– to rid a DSA chapter of people with whom I or they disagree politically, and/or with whom I or they have been engaged in conflict.
I will not attempt to silence or marginalize any fellow member, and I will not try to influence others to silence or marginalize any member.
If I have concerns about a member’s conduct, I will report that conduct to a HGO, and not take matters into my own hands.
I will not engage in any conduct prohibited by the DSA Meeting Code of Conduct, including
- Violence, threats of violence or violent language directed against another person;
- Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language;
- Posting or displaying sexually explicit or violent material;
- Posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information (“doxing”);
- Personal insults, particularly those related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability;
- Inappropriate photography or recording. You should have someone’s consent before taking their photograph and/or recording their voice;
- Inappropriate physical contact. You should have someone’s consent before touching them;
- Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes: sexualized comments or jokes; inappropriate touching, groping, and unwelcome sexual advances;
- Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following (online or in person);
- Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior;
- Disruption of community events, including meetings, talks and presentations, including anyone who is in substantial disagreement with the principles or policies of the organization, as provided by the DSA Constitution.
3. Recognize and avoid possible conflicts of interest.
I will disclose any financial, personal, family, or close intimate relationship interest in matters of official DSA business which may impact on the work of DSA.
If I wish to keep any personal relationship private, I will not participate in any DSA committee, working group, or other DSA-related interaction or work where my private relationship, if known, would give the appearance that I was favoring (or disfavoring) the person with whom I am in a relationship.
4. Be responsible for the use of information, equipment, and resources to which I have access by reason of my membership in DSA.
- I will respect the confidentiality of sensitive information to which I gain access by virtue of my membership in DSA.
- I will not use membership, financial or other data to harm DSA or any DSA members.
- I will not create or maintain any social media accounts in DSA’s name without the permission of the local DSA Chapter.
D. Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior
Unacceptable behavior from any member will not be tolerated. Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately.
If you engage in unacceptable behavior, DSA leaders/organizers may take any immediate action they deem appropriate, including expulsion from a meeting, conference or event.
Depending on the gravity of the offense, until the chapter can investigate whether the unacceptable behavior violated any applicable code of conduct or DSA’s harassment policy, you may be prohibited from further participation in the organization.
Nothing in this code prevents a local chapter from implementing its own expulsion process.
E. Reporting Guidelines
Anyone who is subject to, or witnesses any unacceptable conduct, should report that conduct to a chapter HGO (harassment grievance officer), or DSA officer (including the elected chapter leadership and/or meeting or committee chair).
The HGO or DSA officer will determine whether the conduct rises to a potential violation of DSA’s anti-harassment policy (Resolution 33), and if so, can assist with filing a grievance for a potential violation of DSA’s harassment policy. The HGO will investigate violations of this code of conduct pursuant to the standards established by the National DSA for investigations under Resolution 33, and will make recommendations to the local chapter leadership on remedial action. Such action is at the discretion of the local chapter and can include no-contact orders, suspension, and, where appropriate, expulsion.
Expulsions can be appealed to the National Political Committee (NPC) of DSA. If the conduct does not violate Resolution 33, but is determined by the local chapter leadership to warrant expulsion, it will be heard under the National Expulsion Appeals Policy. If the conduct was held to violate Resolution 33 and was determined by the local chapter leadership to warrant expulsion, it will be heard under Resolution 33’s appeals process.
Those who have been expelled should contact the National Harassment Grievance Officer to initiate their appeal to the NPC. A chapter who has expelled a member and is recommending that the member also be expelled from the national organization should contact the National Harassment Grievance Officer to ensure that the expelled member does not attempt to rejoin the organization in another chapter or as an at-large member without satisfying any conditions related to their expulsion and return to the organization.