Reporting is a key element in creating a safer space. As an organizer, if you don’t get the information you need to enforce your code of conduct, you can’t enforce any of the values you want for your space.
Reporting doesn’t come naturally to everyone, because we have a negative image around it. Here are a few things that usually prevent people from reporting:
- They don’t know they should tell.
- They don’t know who to tell.
- They don’t trust the organizers to do anything about it.
- They are afraid the organizers will do something about it.
- They don’t want to be identified.
We’re going to discuss good practices to encourage reporting!
Let people know!
Tell people any chance you have that you welcome reporting, and give examples of what you want to be reported. I suggest to overshoot, because people are going to under-report anyway, and I highly doubt you’ll ever get submerged by reporting.
One good way is to add to your announcements something like: “I’d like to show you XX, YY, ZZ who are organizers, please address them your questions or concern, even if it seems small to you!”
I recommend you dance with new faces, and mention to them something along the lines of “Hey, I’m an organizer here, so please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. It’s really important for us to create a welcoming environment for everyone, and we always welcome feedback”.
Creating trust is hard, especially if you start from a place where trust has already been broken in the past.
Depending on their identity, people may not always feel comfortable confiding in people. Try to have a diverse group of people (race, gender, sexual orientation, dance role…) in your organizing team so it’s easier to find someone to talk to.
When someone comes to report something, listen to them, validate their feelings, do not minimize their experience, and do not make excuses for the person who made them uncomfortable. Listen, ask questions, give them a lot of agency in the process. More about that on the page about restoration.
It’s also important to have a good relationship with your community. Most of the time, people will not report to an organizer, but will talk to their friends, and their friends might mention it to you. If you are friendly to your community, you’ll improve the chance of hearing about something that happened.
Take measured action! People will stop reporting if they feel like nothing changed. People will stop reporting if they feel like any report results in dramatic action.
Safety in multiplicity
Try to multiply the ways you’re getting reporting. It allows for people to find the method that is the most comfortable to them.
Talk to your volunteers and the DJ
The most identifiable people in your dance scene are the people at the front desk taking money and the DJ. Make sure you tell them what to do if someone comes to them, and who to reach out to.
I recommend creating a contact sheet with pictures and phone numbers of people to contact in case someone has something to report.
Watching the dance floor/one on one conversations
The most direct way is having one on one conversations. People will sometime reach out to you if you’ve made clear they can do so. You can also check in on people when you see them having closed off body language after a dance.
It allows you to address any problem right when it happens, but doesn’t allow for anonymity. For anonymous reporting, you can have a reporting box.
Having a box where people can leave comments about the dance provides a way to report that might feel more comfortable. I recommend designing the box to receive both positive and negative comments. If it’s only negative, it might attract unwanted attention when people leave a note. It can also contribute to positive reinforcement of good behavior if you publicly read the positive notes.
You can use a Google form to create online reporting. It is a great way to offer a possibly anonymous way to report from the safety of one’s home. It lacks in reactivity, because you’re probably not going to check it during the dance, but it might be the most comfortable for some.
You can also simply use reporting via email or instant message.
There’s a project that I’d like to support but don’t quite feel equipped to do by myself. It’s developing the Callisto reporting tool for the dance community. It’s an awesome tool of anonymous reporting. If you want to learn more, take a look here.
With those elements in place, you should be all set to hear about what’s going on in your dance community! The next step is dealing with an incident.