Regarding Harassment, Bullying and Conflict Resolution in DSA

FAQs Regarding Harassment, Bullying and Conflict Resolution in DSA

In order to strengthen DSA and our ability to both hold members accountable for unacceptable behavior, and help us work through legitimate disagreements productively, we are investing member dues in three main areas of internal work around Harassment, Conflicts and Bullying. Unlike many organizations, we don’t just have a token policy and consider our work done. Rather, we invest considerable financial resources, and considerable local member volunteer time, in continuing to build out the policy to create a resilient culture in DSA. 


There are different kinds of conflicts in DSA, and the following policies democratically adopted by the membership nationally and/or within specific chapters provide avenues to address violations. Those policies include:

As of the 2021 national convention, chapters who wish to suspend or expel members for violating Resolution 33 or Codes of Conduct must follow the general procedures outlined in Resolution 33. Chapters may use expulsion provisions from their chapter bylaws in circumstances where neither Resolution 33 nor the National Code of Conduct apply. Regardless of what provision is used to analyze whether there has been a violation, members are entitled to a procedurally fair process, consistent with Resolution 33, in the following ways:

  • Having the initial grievance submitted in writing; 
  • Giving the accused the opportunity to respond to the grievance; 
  • Having HGOs or chapter leaders conduct an investigation to gather evidence and speak to witnesses, 
  • Maintaining confidentiality while the grievance process is ongoing, 
  •  Producing witten findings, based upon evidence, when an outcome is reached. 
  • Once there has been a finding, informing the accused party who has been suspended or expelled that they may appeal that ruling to the NPC.

When a grievance is appealed, the National Political Committee (NPC), DSA’s elected national leadership, will review the evidence to ensure the proposed outcome was consistent with that evidence and resulted from a procedurally fair process, in order to make an evidence-based determination regarding the merits of the case. 

  • To limit bias and further ensure a procedurally fair process, information about grievances will be presented anonymously to the NPC. 
  • Chapters and parties may not contact or lobby the NPC about their desired outcome; efforts to do so may be considered additional evidence of impermissible retaliation and/or cause NPC members to be recused from consideration of the appeal.

DSA’s Harassment Policy is found in Resolution 33, passed at the 2017 Annual Convention, which was amended at the 2021 Annual Convention. Between the biannual conventions, the National Political Committee (NPC) makes decisions about grievance matters to clarify Resolution 33.

Codes of Conduct: Resolution 33 was amended in 2021 to require chapters to adopt Codes of Conduct. Chapters may adapt the National Code of Conduct to fit the Chapter’s specific needs, use its own Code of Conduct, or use the National Code of Conduct. Chapters with questions regarding codes of conduct can contact the NHGOs for assistance.

Confidentiality and Anti-Retaliation Provisions: Confidentiality is critical to the grievance process, as it plays an important role in ensuring that the process is legitimate, protects survivors and is fair to those accused of harm. Retaliation against those who participate in the grievance process is prohibited and can cause additional harm in the grievance process. In 2021, Resolution 33 was amended to provide additional clarification concerning confidentiality, and to provide specific examples of prohibited forms of retaliation. Please review Section 2e (confidentiality) and 3f (retaliation) to learn more about the new changes to Resolution 33.

Expulsions: Resolution 33 was recently amended to provide additional clarification concerning expulsions. If your chapter has voted to expel a member, due to a violation of Resolution 33, chapter codes of conduct, and/or a violation of the chapter’s bylaws, the chapter can make a recommendation for expulsion from the National organization, so that a member cannot participate as an at-large member or in any National working groups or committees. A member has the right to appeal the chapter’s recommendation for National expulsion to the NPC. If you are a member who has been expelled, or a chapter leader or HGO who is handling the member’s expulsion, please reach out to Paula via email at [email protected] to receive the applicable appeal form. If a chapter does not reach out to National, the member will be expelled from the chapter only, so if the conduct is serious enough that the member could cause harm elsewhere in DSA, it is important to notify National to complete the expulsion process.

National Harassment and Grievance Officers (NHGOs) carry out the program and provide training and leadership development within chapters based on professional best practices. The NHGOs work with Harassment Grievance Officers (HGOs) and chapter leaders to ensure compliance with Resolution 33 and to provide support for conflict resolution in their chapters.

  • Paula Brantner is the National Harassment Grievance Officer, and she will answer any questions you have via email at [email protected]. (She works as an outside consultant for DSA, so cannot always respond immediately, but she will respond or refer you to the appropriate person within DSA.)
  • Ana Avendaño assists Paula on investigations, trauma-informed process, mediation, restorative justice, codes of conduct, and training, and her services will be referred to chapters on an as-needed basis. (Ana’s services will be arranged through Paula, so please initiate requests for her work through Paula.)

Trainings: Here is the most recent version of our trainings. If you have specific training needs for your chapter or have questions about what was covered in training, please reach out to Paula via email at [email protected].

Annual Reports: Resolution 33 requires chapters to submit data annually about grievances processed. This information is included in Annual Reports submitted to DSA’s membership following the end of the reporting period. The annual reporting period runs from July 1 to June 30 each year. The third Annual Report covers July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021, and will be posted here when finalized.

Want to learn more about DSA’s Grievance Program? Here are more harassment, bullying and conflict resolution resources we have for DSA members and leaders.

First, tell us who you are so that you may access the appropriate information:

I am a DSA member with questions about DSA’s harassment policy and the grievance process. Start here if you’re not sure or want a general overview of policies and procedures.

I am a DSA member who is a party to a grievance, or who has been suspended or expelled from my chapter and would like to appeal.

I am an HGO or chapter leader who has had HGO training by the National HGO.

I am an HGO who has not yet been trained by the National HGO.

I am a chapter leader involved in getting our chapter’s grievance policy up and running.