0 INTRODUCTION TO THE SAFER SPACE MISSION STATEMENT
See here for what Safer Spaces and General-Purpose Safer Spaces are, and here for these in a Uni/Campus/Uni Town/Society context.
With us, moreover, why we do activities is more important than what the activities themselves consist of. People are more important than activities... Our Safer Spaces' main rule and operating principle is as follows.
0) Safer Space Culture of Respect principle: With us, those who say they are upset are believed without having to say why. Apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it.
Within this Culture of Respect,
1) all our activities are based on friendly conduct.
2) We are foremost about continually continually meeting new people and making friends.
To be involved in these socs is to Consent To Be Met.
But not a card to intrude beyond welcome.
3) We can provide a Thoughtful Service that meaningfully accommodates New, Shy and Different Peoples who do not deliberately hurt others.
4) Many societies are based on similarities between members, and have or form consensuses. We don't do these things. We are, rather, a General-Purpose Safer Space: we simultaneously accommodate a very wide range of different people, whether Out or Closeted.
Items 0.9) and Safer Spaces Rule 8) describe some of this range non-exhaustively.
We have this Mission Statement and Rules instead of these 'normative features' of most other groups...
5) Safer Space Tolerance Principle: we welcome all people who are tolerant toward all other tolerant people.
[We define 'tolerance' here free from any kind of negative connotations!]
This is an important part of simultaneously accommodating many people who are very different from each other.
6) Each person at ours is welcome to have and express their own worldview and to describe themself in terms of that worldview.
But not to push that worldview onto other participants.
Others aren't to be labelled contrary to their own worldview or what they identify as (Outly or Closetedly).
Nor is one to go around 'trying to convince' others of one's own worldview.
7) Our people listen to awarenesses about people who are different from them.
Our people are sometimes willing to spread such awarenesses to people who aren't in these Safer Space societies, but only if these are willing listeners.
In a nutshell, our people don't impose ourselves on others, whether inside our own Safer Spaces or unto people or groups outside of these Safer Spaces.
8) The Threefold Way. Our Safer Spaces require three kinds of participants to function fully and properly.
i) Multiple peoples who need Safer Spaces, including some who may not have Safer Spaces elsewhere to turn to (whether because there aren't others or because the other ones aren't in practise approachable).
ii) Helpful, kind and supportive people. These ensure the activities remain, and become furtherly suitable to, i).
iii) People who enjoy the activities themselves, provided that they do not do so at the expense of i) or ii). These are necessary for the meaningful inclusion of Closeted people, for these can then pose as participants who are there for the fun of the activity... Without this, Closeted people almost never turn up to activities. In particular, if one runs a soc for people X which is, or is seen as, solely for people X, then in practise only Out-X people gop there rather than Closet-X people as well.
This is a good place to point out that 0)'s 'without having to say why' is another practical means of inclusion of Closeted people.
Moreover, simultaneously including many different peoples can be rendered broad enough to simultaneously include Out-X and Closet-X.
Closeted people also rather benefit from not having others' labels, worldviews or consensuses imposed on them. These are needed so that going to our activity does not imply belonging to i) [which renders activities unapproachable to a sizeable proportion of Closeted people].
9) A non-exhaustive list of peoples included in i) that these Safer Spaces are designed to be meaningfully inclusive of is as follows.
i) Closeted people. By this, we indeed mean Closet-X for X being anything legal and consensual that one is not out about. E.g. Closet-LGBT+, Closet Mental Health, or Closeted about any other X mentioned on this page! For some Xs, Closeted are a large majority, e.g. for ii) and iii) below. By which being inclusive of ii) or iii) without doing what it takes to be inclusive in practise of Closeted people in practise only manages to be inclusive of a small proportion of ii) or iii).
iii) The Currently Bullied.
At ours, Survivor is broadly defined, by the totality of opinion from Survivors as to what the true diversity of Survivors is. In particular, this includes Avoidant Survivors (more or less the 17/20ths who according to recent surveys don't go to the police about it). And Non-normative Survivors (e.g. the Survivor is sexually non-normative and/or the attack they were subjected to was and/or the Survivor is socially non-normative. in many other places these are either told 'they're not a Survivor' or the significance of the non-normativity is not catered for or 'dismissed as irrelevant'. No, Survivors have the moral rights to self-determination and to what is and is not significant about ourself and about attacks we've been subjected to.)
At ours, bullying is likewise broadly defined, by the totality of opinion from people who've been bullied as to what the true diversity of bullying is. See Safer Spaces Rule 8.iv-v) for specifics.
At ours, people are of course also free to view themselves as Survivors of Bullying. Bullying and being a Survivor often come hand in hand as well, e.g. sexual abusers often employ 'non-sexual' bullying to try to 'control' a Survivor. Also some non-normative people experience 'normatively non-sexual' bullying as sexual.
Survivor usually means that attacks have ceased and one has survived them. By which Survivor, Survivor of Bullying and Currently Bullied form a quartet with the case in which sexual attacks are ongoing, such as Trapped in Domestic Violence. Ongoing cases mean fresh mental and/or physical wounds, as well as the continued presence of a still-active abuser.
iv) The Socially Anxious.
v) Geeks and Alternative Subcultures.
vi) Anactivists: our Safer Spaces are explicitly neither political spaces nor activistic spaces, because this covers a very widespread need among peoples i) to iv) that is not covered elsewhere. If one is political or activistic elsewhere in life, one is expected to 'leave that by the door' when participating at ours, much as some taverns in historical times required visitors to leave their swords by the door.
10) Our Safer Spaces currently are (the shields are links):
As a Why-first rather than what-first Safer Space provider, what the activities we offer involve doing is much more mutable than the Safer Space character of the Mission Statement is. We are foremost a Safer Space!
A. COMMON DECENCY AND SENSIBLENESS
This first half of our Rules are standards of sensibleness and common decency that one can generally expect in anykind of society.
Conduct Rule Prime 0) To be involved in these socs is a Promise that all actions carried out in connection with these socs is Grounded on Friendly Conduct. This is known as the Be Friendly Rule.
Some of our Safer space Socs meet by going to Events, though this and Our People's other socs all also have Soc-Parenting schemes that parallel the College Parenting scheme, and many of us additionally meet by doing the CakeFaerie Activity.
Conduct Rule Prime 1) Our Safer Space societies are about continually meeting new people and making friends.
To be involved in these socs is to Consent To Be Met.
But not a card to intrude beyond welcome.
This is known as the Meeting People Rule.
Common Decency 1) We are inclusive of and friendly toward all legally protected minorities: women, LGBT+, BME, the Disabled...
Common Decency 2) We are also Women's Safety Conscientious, and Personal Safety Conscientious more generally.
Any person present's personal safety issues about not being unaccompanied take precedence over tactics or what form the activity takes.
Safer Spaces 1) We are explicitly a Safer Space. Thus we have not only Section A's rules but also the Mission Statement and Section B's Safer Space Rules :)
The Safer Spaces' Serious Rule Prime) is:
"A person is upset if they say they are, and without having to say why. Apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it.
Conduct Rule Prime 2) Our Safer Spaces' games/activities are each Only a Game.
* Thus these is No Excuse for Nasty or Inappropriate Behaviour During the activity or over its organizing.
* Being only a game, Real Life Issues override issues internal to such games. In particular, Nasty and Irresponsible are adjudicated by real-life criteria.
* Being 'killed', 'betrayed', 'lied to' or 'plotted against' in a game are no grounds for taking real-life offense. By the same token, there's nothing real-life wrong with `revenge' by similar real-life acceptable game methods in other of our games.
* Meeting people and making friends, inclusion and being a Safer Space are more important than our activity or outcome.
* I.e. we are a 'Why Society", not a 'What Society': why we do activities is more important than what the activities are (or the outcomes of games or who 'killed' who).
* This is known as Only a Game Rule, Why over What Rule or 'It's Game as in Icebreaker Game' Rule.
Security 1) Each activity being only a game, it is No Excuse for Trouble or Nuisance. In particular, do nothing illegal, or which may be mistaken by onlookers as highly illegal.
* If you can't provide a reasonable explanation for exactly what you are doing to any Porters/Fellows/Police Officers who challenge you over doing it, then you shouldn't be doing it.
Safety 1) And these are all Harmless games. So do nothing at all likely to cause injury to anyone, whether Bystander or Participant (including yourself), or cause material damage.
Safety-and-Security Rule Prime) `Trouble', `nuisance', `harmless', `at all likely to cause injury or material damage' are assessed as risk rectangles: (likelihood) x (consequences). For instance, consequences include how much material damage, and, among injuries, place much more weight on those which may be permanent: eye safety, traffic accidents...
This means that some Safety and Security Rules consider very likely occurrences with relatively minor consequences, but also highly unlikely occurrences with very bad consequences.
Additionally, if a group running icebreaker events only thinks in terms of likely occurrence events and very bad consequence events, rather than in term of risk, they would likely miss out comparable risks which are `square': somewhat less severe consequences for occurrences that are unfortunately somewhat likely.
Some more specific rules are as follows.
Safety-and-Security 2) Remember that while you might know something is safe, members of the public may not. Do not cause alarm.
Security 3) Be aware that both the security forces and the public are particularly easily alarmed at present. Avoid behaviour that may cause them to mistake you for a criminal or a terrorist.
Security 4) Each of our specific activities has Out of Bounds Areas, and/or limits on when in the day they can be done. :
If the activity in question permits being on university property, we strongly recommend you carry your uni ID if you possess any.
Security 5) Do not annoy or inconvenience non-participants either.
Safety-and-Security 3) Exercise common sense at all times.
Participants are entirely responsible for their behaviour.
The Safer Spaces do not condone any course of action that leads to confrontation with people in authority.
Avoid inconveniencing other people, especially Police, the general public, Porters and other uni staff.
Safer Spaces icebreaker activities are No Excuse to break any laws.
Common Decency 3) All Safer Space activities are No-Force: none of these are about physical strength or violence.
You are not allowed to move anything that someone else is holding still.
This includes gates/doors, weapons, and especially other people. Anyone breaching this rule will find any consequent in-game actions disallowed.
This is known as the No-Force Rule.
Common Decency 4) Personal safety concerns of anyone present always take precedence over tactics, rules of splitting up, or weapons choices.
Common Decency 5) You are not photograph or video people at or around Safer Space events without the explicit permission of all the people featured.
Common Decency 6) Raising Serious Rules concerns - Safety, Security, Common Decency, Friendliness, Inclusion, Safer Space - is No Excuse to be unfriendly.
SAFER SPACE RULES
These are our own people's extra standards of decency, purpose, and conventions amongst ourselves. It plays a part somewhat akin to other Socs' Constitutions, though one needs a bit more than that too.
Safer Space version of Conduct Rule Prime 0) Being involved in our Safer Spaces is a promise that all actions carried out in connection with these are Grounded on Friendly Conduct, now additionally as per Our People's Safer Space Mission Statement
In a nutshell:
Safer Space Rule Prime) with us, those who say they are upset are believed without having to say why, apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it.
Note 1) Anyone who actively refuses to adhere to this at, or whilst organizing, our Safer Spaces, is flatly not wanted at any of our Safer Space activities. We exist foremost out of consideration for all people in difficulty who don't deliberately hurt others and treat all our other participants with our Safer Space's Culture of Respect that goes above and beyond common decency. Thus we cannot admit any of the very few people who are deliberately hurtful, for then people under plenty of other circumstances would not feel safe or welcome here. Or who are irresponsible to the point that the continuation of our soc's activities would be validly questionable by the Authorities on whose terrain these take place.
Note 2) Us being a Safer Space, there is Doubly no Excuse for nasty or inappropriate behaviour, and anyone testing this will be informed. And, if necessary, banned from us. And will be Deaned or reported to the Police whenever real-life considerations imply this is the prudent course of action for the Custodians of a Safer Space that is being aggressed.
Note 3) What constitutes nasty or inappropriate behaviour is, on our Safer Space turf, additionally adjudicated in accord with having a wider than usual awareness of unfairly marginalized people.
Safer Space 1) We are a general-purpose Safer Space. This means, among other things, that we are designed to be truly inclusive of those who Do Not Identify with why they need a Safer Space. E.g. people who are LGBT* and out often offer combinations of social activities and safer space practises, but closet-LGBT* people may not feel OK using these. And Survivors very generally aren't Out about that nor form social groups based on that. Nevertheless, Survivors often do appreciate social places where there's no unstoppable background of random teasing with a the occasional malicious individual that probes boundaries for who can be hurt how. With our Safer Spaces, we don't ask why, and coming to our activities doesn't imply one is facing adversity. This is because we are designed to have all three of helpful people, people who need a Safer Space and people just there because they like a soc's activity itself.
Safer Space 2) We are a Culture of Respect that includes all who do not deliberately hurt others or are irresponsible as per these serious rules. At ours, if you are called anything you don't want to be called, or treated in any way you find hurtful, at ours you can simply put an end to it, regardless of whether it is associated with a legally protected characteristic, and regardless of whether you are willing to explain why.
Safer Space 3) We mark such statements, to make them entirely unambiguously of this kind and to be taken seriously, with the word SafeOut: someone here is causing it. This is for problems arising between people of ours. If there's a problem whose cause is external to our people, we use SafeOut instead. SafeOut immediately stops the activity so that it cannot get in the way of people perceiving and dealing with the problem.
Safer Space 4) Know that potential disalignments between tolerant, comfortable, closeted and looking non-abusive can occur. Thus we are not to react too quickly and uninformedly in the event of a SafeOut: someone here is causing it. Any decisions that need to be made about serious rules problems are made solely by our Safer Space Custodians. These are highly trained, and highly vouched for as good and firm people.
Safer Space 5) Whilst we seldom need to use it, our Disclaimer is entirely and immutably part of the Serious Rules.
Safer Space 6) Our Safer Spaces are Accepting and Inclusive of the Diversity of people. Note 1) contains the only exceptions. In a nutshell, all Tolerant and reasonably responsible people can get on fine with all others, and can do so without having to `group-conform' on any further grounds. We don't do `fitting in for fitting in's sake' here: concepts such as `coolness', `fashion' and `aesthetics' have no meaning at our socs. We are considerate toward people who are shy or different, whether or not they identify as such, and toward new and part-time members rather than being solely or primarily for keen and active members.
Safer Space 7) Different Activities Interest and Favour Different People, so Inclusion and Diversity mean a wide range of activities should be run.
Safer Space 8) Diversity of People specifically but non-exhaustively includes the following.
i) No bigotry or -phobia toward the legally-protected minorities: women, LGBT, on grounds of race or disability (invisible or otherwise).
ii) We are Ace (Asexual)-friendly, Poly-friendly, Pan-friendly, Nonbinary-friendly, Genderfluid-friendly, Kinkster-friendly, Million-Labels-friendly, Acategorical-friendly (see link buttons on our main website for what these mean!) Nor is there here is no discrimination here based on 'class'.
iii) As per 0.3), we are Closeted-people friendly and meaningfully indirectly supportive toward these, Survivor-friendly and Currently Bullied elsewhere friendly.
[Comment: Elsewhere, things 'for people X' are almost always in practice only thought out for Out-X rather than Closet-X as well. Things 'for Survivors' elsewhere are almost always in practise only used by Survivors who are one or both of Out and Confrontational, whereas 17/20ths of Survivors are Avoidant rather than Confrontational according to recent surveys. Many of these require spaces that are both apolitical and anactivistic. So do Non-Normative Survivors, who aren't even 'defined' as Survivors by many other groups running things 'for Survivors', out of these groups not having asked the totality of Survivors how we consider 'Survivor' to be defined. Or out of ignoring 'politically inconvenient' feedback, Geek Survivor feedback, Alternative Subculture feedback, sexually non-normative peoples' feedback. Or out of having feedback procedures which are sufficiently unsafe that between no and almost no Closeted or Avoidant Survivors have felt safe enough to give feedback there. E.g. one of the main 101's of having a dangerous abuser is making no mention of it in electronic form, so online feedback isn't considered to be safe enough to use, so feedback systems offering no alternatives to this aren't used by large swathes of Survivors.]
iv) No bullying here includes no discimination on grounds of age or occupation (This includes whether one is at a uni and with whatever 'rank'. We are Tolerant Socs whose regular termly meetings in practise happen to be mostly attended by students, rather than Student Socs or Uni Socs, the formats of which can and sometimes do mean that people are excluded for no better reason than their being grads/ex-cam/older/mature, at Anglia Ruskin etc. Our position is that in uni versity towns, such Tolerant Societies have at-least-equal rights to Student or Uni Socs as regards existing and meaningully effective advertising. The main reason for at-least-equal is that Safer Space provision is scarcely only a matter of providing leisure resources. Though Tolerant Socs that are not Safer Spaces sometimes also exist in university towns.)
v) No bullying here doesn't exempt internal bullying, covert bullying, bullying by 'popular people', bullying by gatekeeper professions/vocations, or bullying within or between any kind of political/activistic groups. At ours, 'bullying' is defined to cover all the aspects that Survivors of Bullying consider it to cover.
vi) We are personal safety conscientious. Many Closeted people, Avoidant Survivors and Currently Bullied people require this.
vii) Continuing on from Item 0.3, more concepts that have no meaning at our socs are `power' and `politics', by which our Serious Rules aspect is run by Safer Space Custodians with volunteer co-organizers being part of with the practical side of running meetings. This guarantees we are run by a mixture of people who put the wellbeing of vulnerable others before their own ambitions, and people who actually care about our activities and our people. As opposed to these being excluded by politicians, or the running of a soc being confined to the small subset of members that happen to also be politicially inclined, usurped by whoever happens to `have more power', or having people who care being left out by having too rigid a number of `committee posts' to accommodate them all.
Safer Space 9) As a Safer Space providing organization, we believe that providing soc events that are primarily about taking one's mind away from problems elsewhere within a guaranteedly Safer Space environment are a valuable alternative in addition to specialized support groups for people under specific circumstances. We also belive it is a widespread mistake for so high a proportion of icebreakers and Soc squashes to be in the first three weeks of Michaelmas. That is from the perspective that many shy and different people simply don't adapt on that timescale, and it is these who benefit the most from welcoming and tolerant Socs. Thus the regular events that we provide All Year Round are all IceBreaker Events. Our ideal is Service, not Success , so we Guarantee that a range of Safer Space activities are Available, Approachable, Advertised and Activating (going to one of our Events or websites allows one to find out about other Events and Welfare provisions, whether by us or by others).
More on SafeOut
N.B. SafeOut greatly helps in preserve a high standard of Safety and Security.
N.B. SafeOut includes being safe in raising Common Decency, Friendliness and Safer Space matters.
SafeOut Rule 0) In the unlikely event that you know or feel that there is a breach of Serious Rules during a Safer Space activity, the immediate way to deal with it is by clearly stating the word "SafeOut".
SafeOut Rule 1) SafeOut stops all play until all participants present understand why it was evoked and that the reason for it no longer applies.
SafeOut Rule 2) SafeOut covers all Safety and Security matters, most commonly traffic or bystanders.
SafeOut Rule 3) Safeout also covers Common Decency, Friendliness and Inclusion matters.
SafeOut Rule 4) SafeOut moreover includes "SafeOut: one of us is causing it" and is how Safer Spaces' Serious Rule Prime) is implemented. This Rule also specifies the nature of what happens during all our SafeOuts; see Sec II.5 for more.
Comment I) SafeOut is the most significant practical rule in the entire set: if there is any Serious Rules problem, immediately freeze play and nip it in the bud.
Comment II) Many of these Safer Space issues, and the nature of SafeOuts, are necessary in practise for the inclusion of elsewhere little-known, understood or served minorities such as, but not limited to, Closeted people, Survivors and Socially Anxious people.
SafeOut Rule 5) SafeOut can solely be used to defend oneself and not to personally attack anyone else. Like all other Safer Space things, SafeOut is an abuse-free zone. SafeOut's is to ensure that anybody causing upset, deliberately or otherwise, backs off and apologizes. And that there are no repeats of what caused it.
Comment III) Do not hesitate to start a SafeOut. It does not matter if you think it the matter might be ‘too trivial’, or something that ‘I could probably solve myself’, or ‘about a past occurrence’ or because there’s been another SafeOut recently or there’s been none for ages. If you’re not comfortable making a SafeOut yourself, you can bring the issue up quietly with an Organiser and they’ll sort things out on your behalf. (Asking them "Can I talk to you for a moment?" and then immediately walking away from the group is an easy way to speak with them alone.) The ‘Not having to say why’ includes not having to state that SafeOut is being evoked on behalf of someone else.
Comment IV) You can use "SafeOut. Must leave now." if you have to leave immediately for unspecified personal reasons. Such are not to be impeded from leaving on any grounds.
SafeOut Rule 6) You may not ignore or trivialise current or past SafeOuts, nor hold them against anyone in any way (e.g. gossiping or joking about it after the fact). It is in fact technically possible to be banned from the Safer Spaces solely for disrespecting a SafeOut.
Post-scriptum. Some things we are not.
a) We are neither a political nor an activistic group.
b) As well as being explicitly Safer Space activities, none of our Socs are role-playing clubs. At ours, it's game as in 'icebreaker game' and not as in certain types of 'gaming'.
c) Our societal interactions are primarily in person and not on chat channels or social media. We leave it to some other group if anyone wishes to provide and protect genuine Safer Space versions there. Nor do we accept anybody setting up any chat channels or social media groups in our societies' names or that in any way falsely impersonate any of our societies.
d) We are explicitly not a 'competitive' activity.
Post-post-scriptum. Specific activities' additional rules.
* Some of our Activities and Socs have additional Serious Rules of Common Decency and Safer Space Conduct and of Safety and Security, as induced by the particular forms of each Activity and Soc.
* Thus one should check each specific Activity. The above are common to all, but each of the CakeFaerie, SocParenting, Cambridge Safer Space WaterFighting, Sheila and her Dog and Society for the Promotion of Multiple Societies each have a number of extras specific to them.
* Best Wishes to all, now let's go make Cambridge a better place by providing Safer Spaces in a few nooks and crannies, and by more widely Giving Cake and taking our Soc-Children to our and others' Lighter-Hearted Societies!