Minds Eye Society has a Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy, but what exactly is harassment? Harassment includes more than just unwanted sexual advancements or unwelcome sexual conduct. It could include any comments that focus on race, gender, age, or religion. Any physical contact without player consent is not allowed, but harassment goes beyond that and can include another player looking at you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Derogatory or offensive comments and conduct that makes another player feel uncomfortable should be addressed with that player. It is when that conduct continues, after the player has been told to stop, then it becomes harassment.
First Step: Communication
A player cannot expect someone to stop making them feel uncomfortable if they don’t let the other person know that something is bothering them. If a player is uncomfortable going to the other person directly, then speak with an officer and ask that the issue be addressed. MES members should feel that they can approach a staff member about an issue that makes them feel uncomfortable, no matter what that issue is.
If the harassment continues, the player should inform a member of staff as soon as possible and allow staff to handle the situation.
Jacob makes a joke that makes Suzie feel uncomfortable. Suzie explains that she is offended by the joke and asks that Jacob stop. If Jacob tells another joke that has the same topic or begins to tease Suzie based on the topic, it becomes Harassment.
However, if Jacob’s character does or says something in play that makes Suzie uncomfortable out of play, then Suzie can leave the area or the scene. Remember that it is acceptable for a character to do things that may make others feel uncomfortable, but if a player becomes uncomfortable then they should either leave the scene or address the matter with an officer. It is also important to note that if Jacob’s character does something that intentionally makes Suzie uncomfortable based on her asking him to stop telling his joke earlier, (i.e. his character tells the same or similar joke) then that is harassment. The MES harassment policies always remain in force even during role play. Players should never use their character as a pretext to justify harassment.
Harassment via Physical Contact
Physical contact can be a real issue. Some people just don’t like being touched. Others may be uncomfortable getting a hug from someone they barely know. A member may have an issue with shaking hands. It is every player’s right not to be touched. Members should be very sure that they have another player’s permission before initiating any form of physical contact. To one person it may be just a pat on the shoulder or handshake, but if it makes the other person uncomfortable in any way, don’t do it.
If a player tells someone that they don’t feel comfortable with physical contact, that player should not be criticized or subjected to comments like, “It was only a hand shake.” or “fine, you don’t want a hug from me, I guess you don’t like me.” These types of comments are inappropriate and also constitute harassment.
Sexual Harassment can take many forms and physical contact is only one. Another that is just as serious, yet harder for some to address and identify is the “Creepy Look.” No one should feel that they are being leered at or that another player is “checking them out” in an inappropriate way. If a player feels that someone is giving them a “creepy look” and making them feel uncomfortable, they should bring this to the attention of the member and/or Coordinator staff.
Another form of harassment is one that is sometimes experienced by staff members. A Player sends an email into a staff member that perhaps requests a character sheet, prestige audit or some other official communication. An hour later, the member sends another email asking why they haven’t been responded to yet. Six hours later another email is sent to the officer demanding they respond immediately. During this time, the officer has been at work, at a party, or somewhere in real life unaware of the first email, let alone the following two. The officer responds in an email with, “I have received your email and I will get back with you. Please be patient and do not send another email until I have had a chance to take care of this.” If the player continues to send emails demanding a response then this is also harassment.
In most situations 48 hours is a good expectation to get a response from a staff member. If it involves an investigation, the response may take up to 30 days per the Membership Handbook. Be aware that officers are volunteers and they have lives outside of MES. Repeatedly bothering an officer about a topic, and not stopping when asked, is another form of harassment. Try to be patient and allow a reasonable amount of time for an officer to respond.
The Boundaries of Handling Harassment in MES
What should a member do if the harassment spills over outside of Minds Eye Society? Here members need to understand the jurisdiction limitations of MES. If harassment occurs on a social media site or email and is posted on an official MES page or MES mailing list, then the harassment policy of MES applies. However, if a member posts something in a personal Facebook page, then it falls outside the jurisdiction of MES. Minds Eye Society does not have the authority to say what a member can or cannot post in electronic communications that are not MES lists or MES sanctioned forums or social media pages.
If at any time there is a concern of harassment that is physically dangerous in nature, appropriate means of dealing with a physically dangerous situation should be implemented. This could start with an Immediate Corrective Action and go as far as getting local authorities involved if necessary.
The Minds Eye Society’s No Tolerance Harassment Policy is in place to protect members from all forms of harassment within the jurisdiction of the organization. Once an issue has been brought to an offending member, it should stop. If it does not, then it becomes harassment. If an issue arises that makes a member feel uncomfortable and they want it to stop, the member should be respectful but communicate these issues so that they can be handled and dealt with in a way that causes the least amount of stress possible.