Austin Democratic Socialists of America

Harassment Grievance Officers (HGO’s)

Email the Harassment Grievance Officer's confidential email at hgo@austindsa.org

Mission Statement

As Harassment Grievance Officers, our priority is to support safe and effective co-organizing for social justice. We strive to be active advocates for open and equitable communication, both within and outside of the Austin DSA community. We facilitate opportunities for understanding among and between parties whose experience with being granted credence differs––whether this is due to preconceptions regarding race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, class, religion or lack thereof, ability, language, or any other marginalizing factor. Recognizing that conflict is intrinsic to transformation, our process involves opportunities to more deeply reflect on what we each bring to collaboration. Through workshops, consultation, and mediation, we develop strategies for sustaining interpersonal trust, vital to pursuing democratic socialism.

National DSA Resolution 33

Passed at the 2017 DSA Convention, local chapters are required to have Harassment Grievance Officers. Democratic Socialists of America is committed to creating a space that is welcoming and inclusive to members of all genders, races, and classes. The following policy provides guidelines to ensure that everyone is able to organize without fear of harassment, abuse, or harm. The resolution can be found here.

Who We Are

Nik Sturm (She/Her/Hers)

Nik Sturm
Bilingual in English and Spanish.
I’m an advocate for LGBTQIA+, immigration, and environmental justice. I’m passionate about finding positive solutions for conflicts while maintaining the integrity of our goals for democratic socialism.

Courtney Alexa Szigetvari (she/her/hers)

Courtney Alexa Szigetvari
I am a credentialed advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking in Texas (as well as Connecticut and Florida) with over five years of experience in the field.

Sheila F. (she/her/hers)

Sheila F.

I am a passionate about supporting safe and effective socialist organizing by drawing on my background in trauma-informed counseling and the principles of transformative justice and loving-kindness.

How to Contact HGOs

If you are experiencing harassment or have a grievance, please use the form below:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1w7TvAoEY_qZ7bTESeAEEnmp0wIee4wZFwwDLzOh52zM

Please expect a response no later than 7 days from submission. If your situation requires more immediate attention, you may contact us confidentially via email: [email protected]

Only the Austin DSA HGOs have access to this email.

What can you expect from Austin DSA’s HGOs

  • We are not attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas. We may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice. If you are in need of legal aid or advice, please feel free to contact the following resources:
  • We are not online mediators. We do not monitor or intervene in online organizing and discussion spaces. If you feel you are being harassed or bullied in an online DSA space, please direct this to our attention by submitting a concern here.
  • Please refrain from sharing screenshots and records of other personal communications. Confidentiality is important. Unless requested for further contextual information, screenshots are discouraged. Keep in mind that our goal is to reach a positive resolution for all parties involved.

Our Methodology

We respond promptly to concerns that come to us from members of the Austin DSA and partner organizations, either via our confidential email or through conversations.

We request that those presenting concerns first fill out a harassment/grievance form, and offer assistance in filling this out, if needed. The intention behind the form is to initiate a process of thinking through the conflict as it exists on a continuum; as a situation that came of certain set of factors that might be more deeply understood. Together with those involved, we explore the dynamics of the current situation in order to figure out a possible resolution.

We meet regularly to reflect on our own methods and to contemplate how we might bring the principles of democratic socialism and advocacy into alignment with transformative justice. As HGOs, we feel it is vital to our sustained work to raise questions and express hesitations among each other while supporting one another in endeavors that are often reft with emotion and difficulty.

We expect active involvement and cooperation from our comrades in resolving the conflicts that are brought to us. Toward this goal, we serve to act as buffers in heated interpersonal situations, as well as listeners or mediators. While it is always our intention to approach situations with open minds, we are also particularly attentive to the ways systems of power influence conversations. Thus, our general stance is to take special care to ensure room for those whose perspectives are often marginalized so as to not reproduce these structures of dominant authority.

We consider this methodology “living,” in the sense that it is informed by our experience so far, and does not account for scenarios we have not yet encountered.

Community Agreements for Respectful Discussion

When attending Austin DSA general body meetings or committee meetings, please respect our community agreements for respectful discussion.

      • Assume good faith in your fellow comrades
      • Know whether you need to “step up” or “step back”
      • Please ask yourself “Why I am Talking?”
      • Please recognize and respect others feelings, background, and cultural differences
      • We have “one mic” so do not interrupt or speak while others are talking
      • Respect the facilitator when they use Progressive Stack
      • Have a sense of humor

Reading Links

http://www.calcasa.org/2017/04/what-does-transformative-justice-look-like-survivor-focused-trauma-informed-community-accountability-to-ending-sexual-violence/
http://criticalresistance.org/resources/addressing-harm-accountability-and-healing/