WWOOF operates largely on the honor system with members trusting one another to be respectful, honest and to fulfill the mission of WWOOF. All members make themselves vulnerable in order to be open to new learning and growing possibilities. Members can help avoid potentially negative situations by setting appropriate boundaries with one another from the start. Respect for others is critically important in maintaining an environment which supports this community.
Harassment is persistent unwanted attention which is disturbing or pestering in nature. Harassment is not limited to the sexual realm, and all forms in which it can manifest are unacceptable. This includes unwanted teasing, joking, displays of affection/admiration, or any other persistent demand for an individual’s attention which prevent them from pursuing their own goals. Nonverbal harassment includes distribution, display or discussion of any written or graphic material or gestures that ridicules, denigrates or shows hostility or disrespect toward an individual or group with a protected status.
Sexual Harassment is any kind of unwanted conversation, attention or touching which is sexual in nature by any member, regardless of gender.
Harassment of a sexual nature can involve one person taking advantage of an individual who may not feel comfortable confronting the situation for any number of potential reasons. It is important that each individual be conscious of their role and how it may affect others. It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to a safe, conscious and consent-based community environment.
Identity Harassment is occurring any time unwanted and repeated reference to one’s identity is taking place. This includes but is not limited to age, class, religion, race, sexual orientation, language, nationality, disability, body type, gender identity or expression, marital status or other protected status including epithets, slurs and negative stereotyping. Attempting to minimize the seriousness of such behavior (e.g. “I was only joking”) does not excuse the behavior.
Criminal sexual contact – sexual touching without consent – is a criminal offense and will not be tolerated. WWOOF encourages victims of criminal sexual contact or other criminal sexual behavior to make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency or agencies and contact WWOOF Admin as soon as possible.
Non-criminal harassment may be dealt with more cooperatively. WWOOF members live close together, and may have differences. Although WWOOF members should strive to be mindful and respectful of others, we are only human. Mistakes happen, and we are all growing. Not every issue or event results in membership revocation.
If somebody is harassing you, speak up. Although it is better to speak directly to the person who is doing it, that may not be possible. A person who is already disrespectful may not be able to listen or may have already framed the relationship in terms that leave you no voice. If you are not comfortable speaking to that person
directly, speak to a person of authority at your location or to WWOOF Admin.
If somebody is harassing somebody else in your presence, this should be considered a safety issue since it indicates the others around you are also at risk because of bad behavior. You may:
• Confront the harasser directly if you feel comfortable that it will not escalate the situation or draw hostility in your direction.
• Deflect or distract the harassment by engaging with the subject. An example of this would be introducing a new topic or activity.
• Stand by and/or follow up with the subject afterwards. Offer emotional support. Harassment is a deeply isolating experience.
• If the conflict is unresolved, report the incident to WWOOF Admin for assistance.
If somebody objects to your behavior, listen and try to see it from their point of view. Do not refuse to listen just because they are angry. If you have crossed a perceived boundary, anger is almost always inevitable. A person
who feels hurt or frightened is not required to express themselves in a way that makes you comfortable. Understand that the objection is based on a perceived hurt or distress in which you are involved. Almost certainly their reaction to your conduct involves other emotionally laden experiences in their past – that is not a reason for you to dismiss them as hypersensitive, overreacting, or out to get you.
If the individuals involved cannot resolve the problem to their mutual satisfaction, they should take the matter to WWOOF Admin.
Principles of Dispute Resolution
Every allegation of harassment is taken seriously, and is not to be dismissed out of hand
. Harassment is generally thought to be under-reported. If someone reports an incident or pattern of incidents, it is not a defense to say, “There is no evidence.” An individual’s word will be given a significant amount of weight on its own.
A person who has been deemed to have harassed another can have no expectation of secrecy or confidentiality. WWOOF will not protect harassers and enable them to continue to abuse
others. Other WWOOF members will be warned as necessary, and will be notified that they do not have to tolerate harassment from that person if it occurs.
WWOOF admin reserves the right to revoke the membership of anyone for any behavior it deems inappropriate. If a person’s WWOOF membership is revoked and that person then tries to rejoin the organization without permission, they may face legal action.
Publication of this Policy
Any person whose conduct has been complained of will be given a copy of the policy, asked to read it, and then write at the bottom: “I have read and understood this policy,” sign it, date it, and return it to WWOOF Admin. This document was adapted from and used with permission from Bodhi Manda Zen Center.