Transformative Justice: Empathy as Policy

NOTE: We use the word “reporter” instead of “victim” in this section. Firstly, because we are open to receiving third-party reports. Secondly, because this policy is written to reflect the types of reports we receive and to make it easier for folks to submit reports they may have deemed “not serious enough”.  Processes surrounding any situation where intervention is required at an event exists separately. (LINK TO EVENT REPORTING POLICY)

WHAT KIND OF REPORTS DO YOU TAKE?

If something, or somebody, involved in our community made you uncomfortable – we want to know. You don’t need to worry about it being “bad enough” – our goal is to create an environment where our members feel comfortable sharing their concerns, and to foster positive change, not to deal out punitive justice. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I REPORT?

Most importantly: We will listen, and we will believe you. 
From there, it depends. If you aren’t sending us an email, two members of the KST Core team will take your report. This allows us to better monitor ourselves and makes sure that we can minimize the bias of only having a single perspective on what has been reported to us. This can be in person, on a phone call, or via text / email – depending on your own comfort. If you are uncomfortable making the report yourself, third-party reports are also OK — but generally we will need to be able to speak to the victim to take direct action, as we believe in victim-led resolution.

WHAT IF MY CONCERN IS ABOUT A CORE TEAM MEMBER OR VOLUNTEER?

We hold ourselves and others in positions of trust to a higher standard. If your concern is a safety concern about a Core Team member, they’ll step down from their duties until the issue is resolved. They will not be involved in any of the internal discussion about the issue, and their involvement in the conversation will only be with your consent. We also hold our volunteers to a higher standard, so if the concern is about a volunteer, we’ll automatically remove them from any high-trust volunteer roles until the concern is resolved.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I REPORT SOMEBODY?

Our goal is to function in a framework of Transformative Justice – we want to encourage our community, as a whole, to be better. That means caring about individuals, too. We ask that people who bring concerns to us consider what they would like to see happen. Ultimately, healing and accountability look very different to different people, and we have no interest in acting as “law enforcement” or assuming we know how to heal somebody’s hurt. If something is bothering you but you keep justifying it to yourself as being trivial, please strongly consider letting us know. 


Eg.  We may receive a report where a person reporting has witnessed behaviour outside of our event that made them uncomfortable. They simply want us to be aware in case we receive other reports about that person.

Other times, they simply want the person made aware that their actions are making people uncomfortable, but weren’t comfortable confronting them personally. These reports also allow us to better consider and direct our policy – to know if there are things we should be communicating to the community to help make our spaces as comfortable as possible.

WHAT IF SOMEBODY MAKES A REPORT ABOUT ME?

This is the part that terrifies everybody.  We want to be very clear: Everybody makes mistakes, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. What matters most now is how you respond.

The specifics will depend on the severity of the report and the reporter’s desired outcome, but we do not act as prosecutor or judge in trying to determine who is right. That means you aren’t the defendant – we are telling you how your actions were perceived, not arguing their intent. 

What we’re asking of you is that you be receptive to feedback. Once again, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. There is no need to insist you didn’t mean it “that way.” We aren’t ascribing intent to you, we’re talking about the effect.

We also may have cases where a report is a jumping-off point and you may never know about it. It could mean that we add a talking point to our messaging because we don’t think an expectation has been communicated clearly, and checking in on the situation again once we’ve changed our messaging. It could also be a conversation prompt, something we use to bridge a topic with you.

Eg. We receive an anonymous report that somebody often seems like they’re leering at people. The reporter wants us to be aware, because it made them a bit uncomfortable and they’re concerned others may feel the same.

At an event, we notice what seems like the behaviour the person was reporting on. It looks unintentional, but easy to misinterpret. So a member of the Core Team finds an opportune moment to start a conversation with you, see how you’re doing, and if needed, slip a comment like “Oh yeah, everybody’s costumes are so great, I always have to stop myself from staring so I don’t make anybody uncomfortable.” into the conversation.