Equality activities for organisations

4. Principles of safer space

The purpose of the principles of safer space is to increase the safety of acting in organisational premises. They function as a basic set of rules meant to guarantee a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere for all participants. Participants should be made to commit themselves to following these rules – in any possible problem situations, you can then appeal to their binding nature when resolving the situation.

All HYY’s organisational premises must have valid principles of safer space that have been collectively agreed by the organisations. The principles must be on display on the wall of the premises.

There are many different formulations for the principles of safer space. In addition to general principles, we recommend having special considerations for all the different premises used by the organisation. Below is one version for the principles of safer space:

  • The basic rule is to treat others like you would wish to be treated yourself. However, please remember that every one of us is an individual, and our personal boundaries, for instance, may differ quite dramatically. Do not make generalisations based on your own preferences.
  • Do not make assumptions about another person’s identity, gender, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. You cannot know another person’s experiences, thoughts or situation in life. However, as we still constantly make assumptions about other people, try to at least be aware of yours.
  • Do not define another person’s experience or identity for them.
  • Be open and listen. Respect other people as human beings and do not question or judge them for being different.
  • There is no room for violence, intolerance or discriminatory behaviour or language in our community. This also includes prejudice related to the background or appearance of other people.
  • If you notice that someone is in a bad way, do not leave them alone. Look after them yourself or make sure that someone else does. Do not assume that a person who is in an incoherent state is drunk – to the best of your ability, ensure that their condition is not caused by an attack or some other serious situation. If you feel that you are not able to help them yourself, ask for additional help from others.
  • Do not harass anyone verbally, by touching them or by staring at them. No means no. Stop or change your behaviour if someone asks you to. Something that feels good to you may not feel the same for another person. Try to interpret the situation and the other party. The safest way to act is to ask, listen and respect.
  • If you see or experience harassment or inappropriate behaviour, contact the organisers immediately. Immediate action will be taken against harassment.
  • If you need any help or support for problem situations, just ask for it.

The following principles of safer space are especially suited for discussion events:

  • Make way for other people! Make sure that everyone is heard and able to participate in the discussion. Do not dominate the discussion – give others the opportunity to participate and define their perspective, too.
  • Speak in such a way that everyone can understand you: try to use language that is understandable to people outside your own reference group, too.
  • Do not speak in a hostile manner towards other people – whether they are present at the event or not.
  • Listen and respect!