2012 Ban Policy
Reasons for bans
Reasons for bans can fall into two categories:
- Dangerous, threatening, illegal, or legally risky behavior. This can be considered grounds for an immediate ban. Stealing, pirating software, throwing things, and threatening a volunteer are examples of this. These are things that are purely unacceptable and do not require a warning before a ban is used.
- Violation of policy. These are lesser problems, but still serious. Breaking the public forum code of conduct <http://wiki.freegeekvancouver.org/article/Public_forum_code_of_conduct>, and failing to follow the direction of staff, board members, or core volunteers are examples of this. Before these result in a ban, the person should be given a clear warning. As part of a warning, a staff member can request a cooling off period during which it's agreed that the individual will take a break from Free Geek Vancouver.
Delivery of bans
Staff and board members should be able to give both warnings and bans. If a core volunteer or anyone else thinks a ban is warranted, they can speak with a staff member or director. (At least one should always be in the building.)
If possible, bans and warnings should be given first verbally, even though they should be followed up in writing or email. This is to avoid surprising someone with an "official" communication they did not expect.
Bans and warnings should always leave a paper trail, both with the person being banned or warned, and with Free Geek Vancouver. An email is probably easiest, but if that's not possible, a printed note should be given and a copy kept on-site.
Content of paper trail
Bans should specify
- why the ban was given
- how long it will last for
- whether and when a warning was given first, if applicable
- how to contact the board of directors and ombudsperson for recourse.
Warnings should specify
- why the warning was given
- whether a cooling off period was agreed to
- how to contact the board of directors and ombudsperson for recourse
- an indication that a ban may result as a next step.
To keep warnings and bans accountable, they should be discussed and minuted at staff meetings (once a week). Minutes are also available to the board, which will keep them informed. Bans and warnings should be reported to the monthly meetings as well, though in a way that does not identify anybody: "1 person was banned for stealing; 1 person was given a warning for breaking the public forum code of conduct on the mailing list."
If a warned person continues to behave in the same manner, staff or directors may ban them from the premises.
If a banned person comes on-site, they should be asked to leave; if they will not, then the police should be called as a next step. (Bans need to be taken seriously, both by staff/directors and by people being banned.)
Note that bans are already documented on the wiki as applying not just to the premises but also the mailing lists. (See <http://wiki.freegeekvancouver.org/article/Public_forum_code_of_conduct>.) Bans also apply to all Free Geek Vancouver events, except when that is impossible (e.g. we have a table at a larger event) or if the directors grant permission given at least a week's warning.
Note that bans are not and should not be frequently used.