Harassment, Sexual Violence, and Domestic Violence Policy

Matters under the Young Democrats of America  Harassment, Sexual Violence, and Domestic Violence Policy may be referred to the Judicial Council by the President, the Chair of the Judicial Council, by a majority vote of the National Committee; upon receipt of a petition signed by no fewer than twenty-five (25) members of the National Committee. A complaint by either a survivor of, or witness to, or advocate for a survivor of an overt act; or upon receipt of a petition signed by no fewer than six (6) members of the Judicial Council submitted to the Chair of the Judicial Council and the President. 


YDA Policy Summary 

Young Democrats of America (“YDA”) is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in this organization’s programs and activities can work together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, violence, or intimidation. Every member of the YDA community should be aware that the organization strictly, absolutely, and wholly prohibits harassment, sexual violence, and domestic violence, and that such behavior violates both law and organization policy, and are crimes. 

YDA will respond promptly and effectively to reports of harassment, sexual violence, and domestic violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline and/or cooperate with law enforcement authorities regarding any behavior that violates this Policy on Harassment, Sexual Violence, and Domestic Violence (hereinafter, the “Policy”). 

 

YDA’s Beliefs and Commitments 

Sexual violence and domestic violence are crimes that are completely incompatible with YDA’s core tenets of tolerance, inclusion, and community. Harassment of any kind creates a culture of exclusion that, too, is incompatible with the core tenets of YDA. Harassment, sexual violence, and domestic violence will not be tolerated. 

 

Definitions of Prohibited Conduct 

 

Harassment 

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a person’s sex, national origin, race, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or other immutable characteristics. Harassment can include but is not limited to: 

  1. Unwelcome sexual advances; 
  2. Unwelcome requests for sexual favors;
  3. Other verbal or physical harassment; 
  4. Offensive remarks about any of a person’s characteristic(s) listed above;
  5. The use of social media or mobile technology to portray another individual in a sexually explicit way without their freely given, voluntary, and conscious consent;
  6. Stalking. 

Though this Policy does not prohibit outright teasing, offhand slights, or isolated incidents (unless extremely serious), harassment which is frequent or severe such that it creates a hostile, uncomfortable, or offensive environment, or when it results in an adverse decision by the individual being harassed (such as the victim leaving a conference or meeting prematurely, or leaving the organization as a whole), will fall under this Policy’s definition of “harassment” and therefore be subject to the disciplinary process for harassment outlined within this Policy. 

 

Sexual Violence 

Sexual violence of any kind will not be tolerated by YDA. Sexual violence is any act of a sexual nature--including the touching, fondling, or penetration of another individual or the use of an object to touch, fondle, or penetrate--performed on an individual, or in which an individual is made to perform on another, without their freely given, voluntary, and conscious consent to such act. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual battery, and sexual assault. 

An individual cannot consent to a sexual act if that individual is underage, unconscious, asleep, intoxicated due to alcohol, drugs, or another substance, or is otherwise incapacitated. Lack of protest, silence, or lack of resistance do not by themselves constitute consent. A prior sexual or romantic relationship between the persons involved is not by itself an indicator of consent. 

 

Domestic Violence

Conduct by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim--or a person with whom the victim shares a child in common--that intentionally or recklessly causes bodily injury to the victim, another, or an animal, or places the victim or another in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. 

 

Retaliation 

Retaliation includes threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse organizational actions against a person based on their report of harassment, sexual violence, or domestic violence. Retaliation is strictly prohibited by the YDA.

 

Accusations of Harassment, Sexual Violence, or Domestic Violence 

Any substantiated accusations against a YDA member, volunteer, or otherwise YDA-associated individual, which allege that they have committed sexual violence or domestic violence against another, are potential grounds for immediate, permanent, and total exclusion from participation in all YDA activities and events. 

Any accusations against a YDA member, volunteer, or otherwise YDA associated individuals, which allege that they have harassed, as defined below, another individual shall be reviewed by the Judicial Council, and a record of the incident kept.

The YDA Judicial Council is responsible for making all such disciplinary decisions set for in this Policy. A decision by the Judicial Council to terminate or suspend YDA’s association with an individual accused of sexual violence, domestic violence, or harassment shall be appealable, within Sixty (60) days of the decision, by said individual to the elected Officers of the Young Democrats of America. The appeal hearing shall take place in the timeliest manner possible which allows for the President or Executive Vice President and at least four (4) other Officers to be present either in person or by conference call. Reversal of disciplinary decisions made by the Judicial Council in regards to this Policy through the appeals process must be unanimous to take effect.

If a member of the Judicial Council or a YDA National Officer learns of conduct prohibited by this Policy (through personally witnessing it, through another YDA member, or by any other means), and the conduct occurred at a convention, conference, meeting, or other event that is still in process and ongoing, then the Judicial Council shall gather, in a timely manner not to exceed 24 hours from the time the alleged incident first came to the Judicial Council Chair’s attention to discuss the alleged conduct. Under these circumstances, the purpose of this meeting shall be whether, separate and apart from any subsequent disciplinary decisions, The individual should be removed from the ongoing and in process convention, conference, meeting, or event When making this determination, the board members present shall consider: 

  1. The physical well-being and safety of the victim, accused, and general YDA community; and 
  2. The likelihood of retaliation against a reporting victim, the accused, or others. 

If a two-thirds (2/3rds) majority of the Judicial Council decides the physical well being of any of the above-mentioned parties is potentially compromised, or if a two-thirds (2/3rds) majority of the Judicial Council present decides that the chances of retaliation occurring against one of the above-mentioned parties is more likely than not, then the Judicial Council shall instruct the YDA Officers to make all reasonable efforts to remove the accused from the in-process and ongoing convention, conference, meeting, or other event.

 If a two-thirds (2/3rds) majority of the Judicial Council cannot be gathered to make the determination set forth above, then any decision by the Judicial Council (provided a quorum is reached through the presence of a forty percent (40%) of the Judicial Council at the meeting) that is present must be unanimous. Judicial Council participation by telephonic means or through electronic platforms like Skype or Google Hangout shall be allowed (for both quorum and voting purposes) provided the Officers are given access to the same information (including any written documentation) that is provided to Officers who are present in person. If a member of the Judicial Council must be recused from the proceedings (such as if a member of the Judicial Council is a complainant, defendant, or for any other reason that might pose a conflict of interest to their participation), their recusal shall not count towards the vote total or to establish a quorum. 

 

Suspension and Exclusion Mechanism

If an individual’s membership in YDA is terminated or YDA suspends its association with an individual accused of sexual violence, domestic violence, or harassment, the following items take immediate effect: 

  1. The Judicial Council shall send the name of the individual to all elected and appointed officers, including regional directors, caucus chairs, and the accused’s and the complainants’ chartered unit president, with a summary of the Judicial Council’s disciplinary decision and length of the disciplinary action. 
  2. The individual shall be disallowed to participate in any functions of including but not limited to conventions, conferences, meetings, and all other events.
  3. The individual shall be ineligible to register for conventions, conferences, meetings, and all other events. The Treasurer and Secretary shall ensure that any registration fees are immediately returned to the individual. 
  4. The individual shall be ineligible to participate in any meetings of the National Committee or any session of the National Convention. The individual shall also be ineligible to send or receive proxies. 
  5. The YDA Parliamentarian, Sergeant at Arms, and Officers are empowered to ensure the physical removal of the individual at any YDA conventions, conferences, meetings, or any other events by all legal means.

 

Confidentiality 

The regional delegates to the YDA Judicial Council along with all YDA elected officers shall ensure that the identities and incident details surrounding survivors of harassment, sexual violence, or domestic violence are completely kept confidential; violation of confidentiality pursuant to this policy shall constitute malfeasance pursuant to Section 650 of the YDA Charter, Section 655 and 940 of the YDA Bylaws. Any YDA appointed officer who violates confidentiality shall be subject to dismissal and removal by their appointing officer.

 

Law Enforcement Involvement  

If the YDA Officers learns of sexual violence or domestic violence accusations against a member, and the Officers believes the safety or well-being of another individual is compromised due to conduct of the accused, then the Board reserves the right to report any crimes or policy violations to local law enforcement authorities, and shall cooperate fully with these authorities. 

 

Resources and Victim Assistance 

YDA commits to making, at each conference and meeting, the following resources available to any individual who requests such resources, or as otherwise required by this policy: 

  1. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233); 
  2. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673); 
  3. The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline; 
  4. The number to and location of the local law enforcement agency (if unknown, the hotlines above may be able to provide this information); 
  5. The number to and location of the nearest hospital that is equipped to perform sexual assault forensic exams (if unknown, the hotlines above may be able to provide this information). 

 

Public Circulation of this Policy 

Aside from this policy being included in the YDA Charter, Bylaws, and Standing Rules, this policy shall be made available on the YDA website. This policy shall also be included or linked in any electronic communication that serves as a notice of meeting in Section 420 of the YDA Charter.

 

If You Have Experienced Harassment, Sexual Violence, or Domestic Violence 

Anyone who has experienced harassment, sexual violence, or domestic violence is urged to immediately seek help. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. Get to a safe place and seek help from a law enforcement officer, medical professional, confidential or crisis response, and/or a YDA Officer. YDA will help any individual get to a safe place, seek medical services, contact a law enforcement agency, and offer information, resources, and help with any other accommodations whenever possible. 

Under no circumstances shall anyone who comes forward requesting assistance and help from a volunteer, Officer, or member of YDA be disciplined by the organization for any violation of the organization's drug, alcohol, or other policies which may or may not have occurred when the harassment, sexual violence, or domestic violence took place. YDA’s sole concern is the safety of its community, and it shall neither inquire nor focus on any drug or alcohol policy violations a potential victim of harassment, sexual violence, or domestic violence may have committed when they were victimized. 

 

If You Are a Volunteer for and/or Member of the YDA, and Someone Needs Assistance 

  1. Ensure that they are safe and uninjured.
  2. If they are injured and need medical attention, assist them in receiving such attention. 
  3. If they would like to report to the police, ensure, and accompany them if they wish, that the person and their support system has transportation to the local precinct, or can call 911. 
    1. Suggest that certain things--such as taking a shower, or washing clothes--may be against their best interests if they want to report to police. Because their body, clothes, and/or personal space and belongings are potential evidence, it is in their best interest to leave as much undisturbed as possible before speaking to law enforcement.
  4. If they do not need medical attention, and are safe, and do not wish to report to law enforcement, then ask about any accommodations that may make them feel more comfortable. Including: 
    1. A change in room; 
    2. A change in hotel;
    3. Transportation elsewhere;
    4. A phone or internet access to reach support services or loved ones.
  5. Provide the following resources for them (if you do not have these resources readily available, please ask an elected or appointed YDA Officer for assistance): 
    1. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233); 
    2. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673); 
    3. The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline; 
    4. The number and location of the local law enforcement agency (if unknown, the hotlines above may be able to provide this information); 
    5. The number to and location of the nearest hospital that is equipped to perform sexual assault forensic exams (if unknown, the hotlines above may be able to provide this information).
  6. Let them know that you plan to notify an elected or appointed YDA Officer that a Harassment, Sexual Violence, or Domestic Violence incident occurred unless they wish to remain anonymous.