Protecting the Consensual Flame

For many years the Transformus Board of Directors has understood that part of our duty as leaders of the community is to extend (within the limited powers available to us) as much protection as possible to both individual participants as well as to the community as a whole. We do this because any culture that does not make every effort to protect its members will not survive and doesn’t deserve to.

We recognize that one of the primary threats we all face is the presence of predatory individuals that are attracted to the spirit of freedom at our events. This spirit of freedom that we all cherish can’t survive if predatory individuals are allowed to harm our community members, and if this spirit is lost our culture is damaged beyond repair. These people don’t just threaten their potential victims – they threaten everyone.

In 2013, we added an 11th principle to the ten traditional ones of burner culture: the principle of Consent. This was done consciously to establish the cornerstone of our effort to protect the community from these predatory threats. Rather than try to establish a long list of rules as the basis for enforcement, we chose the single idea that every individual has the right to expressly grant or deny permission to any other person that intends to directly affect their experience.

Our policy can be stated simply: we have no tolerance for any act (overt or covert, physical or verbal) that violates the right of any participant to consent to that act.

This principle applies to intentional actions directed towards individuals. It does not generally apply to collective actions in which all participants have the option to accept or decline – for example, a sound camp playing music you don’t like is not a violation of your consent. However, the board always reserves the right to take appropriate action in any case where, in our judgment, the health and safety of our community is threatened.

The board’s ability to enforce the principle of consent is limited to the environment of the events we are responsible for, which are private events. The only direct actions available as a remedy are to eject an offender from an ongoing event, and/or to suspend anyone deemed as a potential threat from attending future events. At a private event, the organizers have the right to determine who can attend and who can’t. The only legal restrictions on this broad power are that denying permission must have a rational basis and it can’t violate anti-discrimination laws.

Our goal is the protection of the community. Therefore, our rational basis for denying entry is our possession of credible evidence that the person being denied poses a potential threat to the participants at our events.

It’s very important to understand what a decision to suspend someone is, and what it isn’t. It is done solely because the board has written evidence from multiple credible sources that a potential threat exists. We don’t act on rumors, or on a report from a single source. Our opinion of an individual, good or bad, is not relevant. We act on the basis of written, documented reports.

A decision to suspend someone is not a verdict of guilt or innocence. That’s not our mandate. Our mandate is protection. It is an act taken to protect the community, based on strong and credible evidence. The board, as volunteer leaders, do not have the time or the resources to conduct evidence-based trials. We may (but are under no obligation to) contact persons who are the subject of reports. Every case is a judgment call and in every case the board chooses to decide based on what is the safest course, given the full extent of what we know. We try to make an appropriate response to each occurrence, and that may be an action short of a suspension, depending on many factors.

All evidence in reports presented to the board are strictly confidential and will always remain confidential. Any other policy would destroy the ability of the board to receive these vital reports and therefore destroy our ability to protect the community.

We have long recognized that the ability of board members to properly investigate the reports we receive is limited by the time available, when our primary duty is to ensure our events are well organized and conducted. So we’ve appointed a Conduct Committee consisting of five highly trusted participants whose duty is to assist the board in collecting, organizing, recording, and assessing reports of consent violations. These committee members are appointed officers of the board and conduct their duty privately and in strict confidence. This is done to protect all the individuals involved in this process – the reporters, the accused, and those doing the investigation.

If you have anything to say to the committee you can always contact them by sending an email to [email protected]. You can also contact the board directly at [email protected], or any of the planning committees at [email protected] for Transformus, or [email protected] for Ignite!. Reports of potential consent violations to the board or the planning committees will wind up at the Conduct Committee. No email is ignored, and if any serious incident is involved, you can expect the committee to follow up by contacting you unless you expressly say you don’t want that to happen.

At an event, problems with consent should be reported to the organization as soon as possible after the problem action by contacting Rangers or anyone with a radio who can inform leadership. This will insure a prompt, serious, and compassionate response.

We hope this has clearly explained our policy, the rationale behind it, and how we implement it.

Protecting the Consensual Flame,

your Transformus LLC Board of Directors