We have borrowed these ground rules directly from Iowa State University's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committes https://instr.iastate.libguides.com/c.php?g=862840&p=6185814. They developed these ground rules for a book discussion series called "Is Everyone Really Equal?", drawing a lot on Robin DiAngelo's work. I will add that any contributions that break these rules (or otherwise act in problematic ways) will be unceremoniously removed, and contributors may be blocked from the forum. These decisions are not up for debate.
Forward: "This group is intended to be a forum for discussion of ideas and for learning about differing viewpoints, not for debate. [...] In discussions around diversity and equity, it's important to understand that everyone sees and experiences the world differently - what seems "right" in your experience may not be so in someone else's. Everyone is asked to consider different perspectives, for the purpose of sensitivity, learning, and growth. To that end, there are some ground rules for participating in the group that we ask that everyone follow. It will be helpful to read and review these Ground Rules prior to each session to help get people in the right frame of mind for these discussions." (1)
We will modify these as a group to meet DEI needs.
Recognize: We recognize that we must strive to overcome historical and divisive biases, such as racism and sexism, in our society.
Acknowledge: We acknowledge that we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group(s) and about members of other groups. This is true for everyone, regardless of our group(s).
No Blame: We agree not to blame ourselves or others for the misinformation we have learned, but to accept responsibility for not repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.
Respect: We agree to listen respectfully to each other without interruptions. Only one person speaks at a time. However, this does not mean we should ignore problematic statements. See information here on calling in and calling out. Both approaches are valid and can be done with care and respect, with the goal of helping each other learn. We acknowledge that we may be at different stages of learning on the content and discussion topics.
Individual Experience: We agree that no one should be required or expected to speak for their whole race or gender. We can't, even if we wanted to.
Trust: Everyone has come to the table to learn, grow, and share. We will trust that people are doing the best they can; we all make mistakes and have bad days; when these occur, let's challenge and encourage each other to do better. We acknowledge once again that we may be at different stages of learning on the topic.
Share the Air: Share responsibility for including all voices in the discussion. If you have a tendency to dominate discussions, take a step back and help the group invite others to speak. If you tend to stay quiet, challenge yourself to share ideas so others can learn from you. If you are exceedingly quiet, do expect that the facilitator will call on you in meetings to participate.
Not Experts: The facilitators are not experts. They are here to help facilitate the process. They and everyone in the group are here to learn. We also recognize that everyone has an opinion. Opinions, however, are not the same as informed knowledge backed up by research. Depending on the topic and context, both are valid to share but it's important to know the difference. To engage in deep learning, we will want to lean more toward informed knowledge and gain practice reflecting and speaking thoughtfully on difficult topics.
Ask for help: It's okay not to know. Keep in mind that we are all still learning and are bound to make mistakes when approaching a complex task or exploring new ideas. Be open to changing your mind, and make space for others to do so as well.
(1) Forward and Ground Rules from Ground Rules and Tools for Productive Discussions (NCAR); also from the ISU Principles of Community, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (UMichigan), Library Juice Academy, and Is Everyone Really Equal. These Ground Rules are not static and continue to be refined over time particularly as we seek to decenter expectations of "comfort" and silence as strategies for non-engagement.
Ground Rules: Original Sources
Ground Rules & Tools for Productive Discussions From National Council for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) . Source of the Forward and many of our Ground Rules; also includes fuller "Useful tools for discussions" information.
ISU Principles of CommunityISU's principles address Respect, Purpose, Cooperation, Richness of Diversity, Freedom from Discrimination, and Honest and respectful expression of ideas. -Approved Feb. 9, 2007.
Examples of Discussion GuidelinesFrom CRLT at Univ. Michigan