DSA-LSC Endorses Petition to Fix DSA's Harassment Grievance Policy

- Caucus Statement

At the 2017 convention, DSA passed a harassment grievance policy, often known as Resolution 33. This was a positive development, as previously, DSA did not have any coherent process for handling these problems. Unfortunately, this policy and its implementation have proved to be inadequate to handling the wide variety of internal conflicts and abuses that DSA experiences.

Some of the problems with the Resolution 33 policy are:

  • It covers only harassment based in membership in one of a list of protected classes
  • The protected classes include occupation and socioeconomic class, while to be a socialist involves a class analysis opposing the bourgeoisie and occupations that exist to support them, such as police
  • The confidentiality requirements have been interpreted in a way that makes it very difficult to assess how the policy is functioning
  • It has proved to be easily weaponized, with numerous cases of retaliatory grievances or preemptive retaliatory grievances.
  • The policy is fundamentally reactive, and does not provide any measure to prevent harassment in the first place, and does not do enough to allow elected leaders or local HGOs to protect people actively enduring forms of abuse or negative interpersonal conflict. For people who endure this, this failure can result in both the primary trauma caused by the problem behavior, as well as secondary trauma as it becomes clear that the organization they thought had their back is in fact unable to protect them.
  • It institutes a carceral or criminal justice approach to the harm to members caused by problem behavior and interpersonal conflicts, centering consequences for the target of the grievance instead of the safety of the DSA community. As socialists we rightly criticize the carceral state, but the Resolution 33 policy mirrors the same broken system we oppose.

LSC has been discussing these issues internally for some time, not least because our own bylaws have a harassment policy similar to resolution 33. We are still working to come up with a solution, because these are difficult problems with no clear solutions.

Several DSA members approached LSC to sign on to a petition regarding Resolution 33. While the proposal in the petition does not address all our concerns with the policy, we believe that implementing the proposal would be a step in the right direction. It would provide members with a greater understanding of how the policy is functioning in practice, and would provide for greater accountability for those responsible for implementing it. We support this proposal, and we encourage all DSA members to support it as well.