Adapted with permission from the Lighthouse Writers Workshop
In attending a BWW program, you’re joining a community designed to nurture and support you as a writer and person. Like any community, we have codes of conduct that we expect everyone to understand and affirm prior to participation. We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, economic class, citizenship status, country or region of origin, veteran status, or religion (or lack thereof). We expect you to respect the pronouns indicated by individuals. We do not tolerate harassment of members or volunteer staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, nonconsensual photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. BWW participants violating these rules will be removed from activities at the discretion of the administrators.
Every BWW program seeks to be a welcoming environment for all attendees, regardless of background and identity. Participants are expected to actively contribute to this environment in the following ways:
- Arrive with an inclusive, welcoming, and sensitive spirit that is respectful of others’ identities. Many of us are still learning about how to expand our cultural awareness and realize these are longer conversations; we encourage you to browse our growing resource list here.
- Contribute to conversations and activities when possible, and encourage others to do the same. It’s natural to want to fill silences in a discussion, but we love it when contributions are balanced with inviting others, especially softer-spoken peers, into the conversation.
- Talking about writing often involves talking about challenging subjects, such as race, gender, violence, and trauma. Come to these conversations with a sense of openness and curiosity. Refer, once again, to the resource list for more thorough discussions.
- Communicate with your host if something is troubling or not meeting your expectations. If you can’t, or have reason to not want to discuss it with your host, please contact the BWW Ethics Committee.
- Please understand that our administrators, volunteer staff and hosts have the authority to decide what is safe, appropriate, and respectful, and will act accordingly to remove people or in some other way address situations that don’t meet these standards.
- BWW does strongly encourage the use of Content Advisories (Trigger Warnings). If you’re unfamiliar with this topic, please visit this website for some examples of things that would qualify. In general: if you’re writing about something that would be harmful physically, mentally, and/or emotionally to others in real life (such as graphic violence), list it as a content advisory. See out Content Advisory policy here for more details.
Feedback and Critique
Many of our workshops involve giving and receiving feedback on works in progress. Remember that peers who share drafts are trusting you with their personal creative work, and they deserve the respect, privacy, and attention we all want our work to receive.
- Each host will set workshop guidelines, but unless otherwise stated by the host, participants are expected to provide verbal feedback in the workshop and signed, written feedback in addition. If you miss a workshop, make sure to email the writer your feedback promptly; in all cases, work should be promptly returned to the writer.
- Hosts will provide directions for submitting work, including formatting and deadlines, and your peers have the right not to review work that doesn’t meet the stated criteria.
- Only submit work you are comfortable sharing; it’s the nature of workshops that a critical—which is not to say negative—perspective is taken to help each writer in their efforts to take the work to the next level.
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property
Writers who share work at a BWW workshop should expect it will be treated with the utmost discretion. To that end, never discuss or share a fellow writer’s work-in-progress outside of class without their permission. BWW does not support or tolerate plagiarism. When a writer submits a piece to a workshop, we assume that it’s their own original creative work. If a writer suspects that their intellectual property has been compromised by a member of the BWW community, they can file an incident report. For reporting steps and timelines, see below.
Communication and Other Matters
Often our hosts use e-mail to coordinate workshop details and distribution of materials. Please use your classmates’ emails for class-related communication only. Email addresses should not be used for unsolicited political, personal, religious, or marketing purposes. Likewise, please be conscious of your host’s time when asking even class-related questions; our volunteer staff tend to be generous with their attention but may take a while to respond to individual queries.
Occasionally, in keeping with the informal nature of our events, food and alcohol are consumed at BWW. If you have food allergies or concerns about alcohol being present in class, please let us know. We will treat all disclosures with confidence but want to do what we can to assure that all members can comfortably participate.
Additional Resources on Being a Good Literary Participant
- “What Julio Cortázar Might Teach us About Teaching Writing,” by Pasha Malla, which challenges the idea that nothing outside of craft is fair game in a workshop. (But also makes cultural literacy all the more important.)
- “What Makes a Good Workshop Citizen” (conversation on GrubStreet’s blog), where dedicated writers and instructors talk about what makes someone a valuable member of a writing class.
- “Make No Apologies for Yourself,” by Khadijah Queen and Jillian Weise, on writers and disability.
- “Who Gets to Write What?” by Kaitlyn Greenridge, on cultural appropriation and writing from perspectives that aren’t our own.
- “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Peggy McIntosh’s foundational work on white privilege.
- “7 Casually Racist Things that White Authors Do,” by Mya Nunnally, which explores the everyday forms of racism that show up in writing.
- “White as the Default,” by Marissa Rei Sebastian, talking about the need for more diverse characters in books and the assumption that unless otherwise noted, all characters are white.
- “Who Can Tell My Story?” by Jacqueline Woodson, another great piece on cultural appropriation.
- “I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked,” by Claudia Rankine, in which the brilliant Rankine examines her interactions with white men and asks them about their privilege.
- “How Women See How Male Authors See Them,” by Katy Waldman, a hilarious piece following the two-dimensional and objectifying way women are sometimes portrayed by men.
- “Thomas Pynchon Shows Us How White Writers Can Avoid Appropriation,” by Ariel Saramandi, on how Pynchon wrote responsibly about an African country.
- “Race, Publishing, and H.P. Lovecraft: A Conversation with Daniel José Older and Victor LaValle,” by Leah Schnelback, on the racist legacy of Lovecraft, the revolutionary power of happy endings, and marginalized voices in publishing.
- “Reckoning with the Insidious Myth of Positive Discrimination” by Monica Ali, on how people of color are judged in a literary landscape still heavily weighted in favor of white men.
- “What Should I Call You?” Vanderbilt University’s guide to using gender inclusive pronouns in classrooms.
- “When Defending Your Writing Becomes Defending Yourself,” by Matthew Salesses (NPR).
- “Who’s At the Center of the Workshop and Who Should Be,” by Mattew Salesses (Pleides blog).
- Much more from Matthew Salesses in his book, Craft in the Real World (Catapult, 2021).
- Book/memoir about the need to create healthy, sustaining writing communities: The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop (Haymarket, 2021), by Felcia Rose Chavez.
Please note the above resource is a finite list of an infinite subject. If you know of resources, that would be a good edition to the above, please send them to the Ethics Committee.
BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP POLICY FOR VIOLATIONS OF CODE OF CONDUCT
BWW takes violations of our code of conduct seriously. We adhere to the following guidelines when handling reported violations of our code. These guidelines apply across BWW programs, including all in-house programming, and community engagement. People who fail to observe the code of conduct may receive a warning or be prohibited from participating in BWW programming for a determined period of time.
If a host, volunteer staff member, or community member feels someone has violated the BWW Code of Conduct, they should fill out an incident report . All incident reports are reviewed by our ethics committee. If necessary, one of them will reach out to the person submitting the report for more details. While incident reports may be filed anonymously, please know it’s much harder to address a problem, if we can’t ask questions.
When an incident report indicates behavior from an individual is detrimental and destructive to programming or is harmful and disrespectful towards another member’s identity or person, the following process is initiated:
1. Someone from the Ethics Committee speaks directly with the person who submitted the complaint, asking permission to discuss their complaint with the individual alleged to violate the code.
2. The reported individual has the right to share their side of the story in writing with BWW’s Ethics Committee. If the incident warrants it, the individual may request a meeting with the Ethics Committee to discuss the incident.
3. In order to protect the privacy and safety of our community, complainants’ names will not be revealed, but the individual reported does have a right to hear specifics about the complaint itself.
4. If the violation is a form of hate speech or presents a danger to BWW’s community and mission, the Ethics Committee has the right to skip to step three. The Ethics Committee reserves the right to take further action, if necessary.
First violation: Warning. The Ethics Committee will email the individual, informing them that they’ve been purported to have violated the code of conduct, including details from the incident report. They will receive specific details about subsequent steps, should they violate the code of conduct again. As part of this process, the individual will sign the incident report, indicating that they agree to perform within the standards in the future. If necessary, the Ethics Committee will meet with the participant in question to explain the seriousness of these issues and how they can be addressed.
Second violation: Participant will not be permitted to participate in BWW events for a period of six months. Upon returning, participant must again sign their incident report and code of conduct.
Third violation: Participant will be asked to permanently leave BWW by the managing director.
BWW acknowledges that different violations of code of conduct require different responses, and sometimes the participant may be asked to leave some BWW programs, but not others.
During any of the above steps, participants have the right to appeal judgment. If a participant wishes to appeal, they must send an email of their case to the board chair within 14 days of receiving their incident report. Appeals will be reviewed by the BWW Board in Executive Session, and the decision or update on the appeal will be emailed to the participant within 14 days.
Judgments are made when the incident report is sent to the individual in violation of the code. In the case of an appeal, judgments remain in place until the result of the appeal is decided.